Terry O'Neill: What I've Learned, At Esquire Townhouse

The legendary British photographer on a life less ordinary

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 A self-taught photographer who became a legend in his field, Terry O'Neill went from a trainee priest and jazz drummer to one of the chief curators of popular culture in the 1960s and beyond.

In an engrossing and often hilarious discussion with the BBC's Stephen Smith, Terry took Esquire Townhouse guests through a series of his iconic photos, as well as recounting some of his most interesting and amusing anecdotes concerning the Queen, The Beatles, The Stones, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie and... you get the picture.

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The  Beatles and The Stones were the first two jobs I ever had as a newspaper photographer. I photographed anyone who was anyone after that.

You'll never find any great pictures of The Beatles. Four became one. With The Stones, you had five individuals. 

We were all convinced that this was going to come to an end. We couldn't believe we were getting paid for this. And paid well.

Band photography, it's all rubbish today. It's sad to say, but you don't see any creativity in music shots. The industry doesn't give you the same access any more.

Audrey Hepburn was an incredible woman. She understood photography, she could see the picture and how it needed to be framed.

Michael Caine: 'the boy'. He hasn't changed one bit since the day I met him.

The 60's were a time where youth was given a chance. I don't know who decided that, but it worked out for us.

Sean was the best bond of all, although I do like Daniel Craig.

Ava Gardner

I could do a book of people smoking. All the great stars smoked. It was the easiest prop to use. 

Ava Gardner was the greatest looking woman I ever photographed. She was Sinatra's Achilles heel.

Sinatra and Kennedy were the two strongest presences I have ever encountered. When they were in a room you could tell immediately. There's no one like them around any more.

It was heartbreaking listening to Bowie's last album.  It was like his own obituary.

This [above] was voted the second most iconic rock photo of all time. I don't know what came first.

I was never tempted by drugs. I saw what it did to people. How some of these people are alive I don't know.

I've only ever had to wait a long time for Naomi Campbell. But you knew that, so you'd arrive late too.

© Terry O'Neill/Iconic Images

Elton John hated being photographed. You wouldn't believe it, but he could only do something after hiding behind those outfits.

I obsessed over getting the queen wrong when I photographed her. But I needn't have, she was an absolute pro. The Duke of Edinburgh on the other hand... he liked screwing with you.

I hated being married to Faye Dunaway. You were being constantly regarded by everyone. I prefer to be unknown.

I was self taught. All this talk of lighting and what not is over my head. 

I'm amused by selfies. Where's it going to end?

Modern photographers are all looking for a perfect picture, but it doesn't exist.

For the first time in my life, I'm realising that I'm going to die, which is a bit of a downer. But I can't complain. I've had the best life anyone could have possibly had. 

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