“I’ve been repeatedly asked to write my autobiography – I have seen an awful lot of famous people at their best and worst – but I’m not interested in making money trading their secrets or mine. I want my pictures to tell a story, not sell a story. […] I have always tried to give people dignity in my pictures. That is what it’s all about for me.”
“The quality of stardom has been absolutely debased. These days, all celebrities look the same. There’s no one like Ava Gardner, who was incredible looking and didn’t need a posse of stylists fluttering around her. And there’s never been a greater looking guy than Paul Newman. Stars then were individuals. Now it’s like they all come out of the same factory.”
Standards have fallen where photography is concerned. Now when you go to a film premiere, the photographers look at their pictures as they take them and when they have “the shot,” they just stop shooting. Photography is all about shooting and capturing a moment spontaneously, not worrying about what picture you have already taken.
“Any time I shot Sinatra has to be the greatest of my career. It was an amazing compliment for me as a photographer too, because to work with him – whether you were a musician or a photographer or whatever – you had to be the best.
He was a fantastic character, Frank Sinatra, he really was everything you think and see, but I didn’t want to become his buddy and have someone else end up taking the pictures.”
“I was waiting to do her portrait (i.e. Brigitte Bardot) and I was on the last shot of a roll, so I had one frame left. And suddenly the wind blew up and I shot it. I couldn’t wait to get back and get it developed to see whether I’d got it or not. And I was thrilled to death when I saw the negative. It’s a fab picture.”
“Audrey Hepburn was an absolute doll, and I wish I’d worked on more of her films. You don’t often see pictures like this of her, because mostly you see very posed stuff. But she was sensational to photograph. This was a scene where she got flung in a swimming pool, and she hated being flung into the water, but she was so professional you’d never know it. She was fabulous: she loved all that.” (photo above)
“The famous shot of Audrey Hepburn was just incredible. We were in a garden in the south of France and she was just a total pro – so great to work with. We were shooting and the dove just landed on her shoulder – she looked down and I got the shot and two frames later it flew away again. Incredible.” (left photo)
“The Morning After” – Terry O’Neill’s famous photograph that shows Faye Dunaway by a deserted Beverly Hills Hotel swimming pool, having won an Oscar the previous night for Network. She was married to O’Neill at the time and, about this shot, he said: “I set up the whole thing. I said to her, that if she won, I knew exactly the photograph I wanted to take. I’d seen people the day after, when it has suddenly dawned on them what winning an Oscar means. I wanted to capture that 6.30 a.m. moment of realisation.”
photos: Terry O’Neill | 1-Paul Newman and Ava Gardner | 2-Paul Newman on the set of Pocket Money in Tucson Arizona, 1972 | 3-Jane Fonda | 4-Michael Caine and Giovanna Ralli, during the filming of Deadfall | 5-Sean Connery on the set of Goldfinger | 6-Frank Sinatra during the filming of The Lady in Cement | 7-Romy Schneider, Saint Tropez | 8-Brigitte Bardot, Spain, 1971 | 9-Audrey Hepburn, during the filming for Two for the Road, 1967 | 10-Audrey Hepburn, the South of France | 11-Faye Dunaway, Los Angeles, 1977 | Click on images to enlarge
Quotes by Terry O’Neill