A Rotherhithe photographer, who was behind countless album covers for stars including Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode and Elvis Costello, has died aged 75.
Brian Griffin, who lived in the area for over forty years, passed away peacefully in his sleep on January 26 in his Rotherhithe flat, sources close to him have confirmed.
A well-regarded photographer with a studio in Rotherhithe Street, Birmingham-born Griffin was famous for his creation of many classic album covers.
His cover for Depeche Mode’s A Broken Frame in 1982, depicting a woman cutting grain in an East Anglian field, was hailed as one of the most important shots of its time.
Some other notable works include Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces, Iggy Pop’s Soldier, and Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp! cover, of his white pointed boots on a pavement, which Griffin described as ‘the easiest and most famous’ he had ever shot.
Griffin snapped such a large number of pop artists of the ’70s and ’80s in fact, it would be far quicker to list those he didn’t photograph.
Along with covers he also shot The Clash, Queen, Cliff Richard, the Specials and even Kate Bush after she had reportedly seen the Depeche Mode cover and ‘wanted something similar’.
His website reads of the latter: “I remember Kate Bush sitting on the pavement at 6:30 am waiting for me outside my studio in Rotherhithe Street.”
He is also responsible for photographing business leaders and making them into surrealist art, for an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery – featuring Margaret Thatcher and Len Murray.
In 1989, The Guardian newspaper named him ‘The Photographer of the Decade.’
Even with his star-studded pursuits, he remained grounded in Rotherhithe, residing at Canada Wharf and would regularly stroll down Maltby Street in Bermondsey and to the Mayflower Pub.
Of living in the area, he said, “My work brought me down here and I liked it so I stayed.”
Having gotten to know the locals over the years, they too were muses of his. He reportedly photographed some residents for some of his exhibitions.
Despite his clear talent, Brian didn’t set out to be a photographer. In a 2022 interview with the Bermondsey Biscuit, he revealed it was ‘decided’ for him, driven by his wish not to meet the same fate as his family in the Black Country.
They had all worked in factories and many had died at an early age. Deciding to pursue his hobby instead, he took up a photography course at Manchester College of Art and Design.
After graduating he ventured to the Big Smoke and ‘knocked on every door in London’ to find a job. When he landed one his first assignment was at Convoys Wharf in Deptford.
Griffin’s work wasn’t exclusively photography – he also shot some music videos and surreal short films.
His cause of death is not yet known.
If you are a resident and were photographed by Brian Griffin please get in touch: email@example.com for a tribute piece being put together. Any other tribute messages should be sent here also.
The main image used in this article was taken by Simon Hyde. You can view his work at www.simonhyde.co.uk