Brian Griffin (1948-2024)

British photographer passed away in his sleep on 29 January 2024, aged 75. His portraits of 1980s pop musicians led to him being named the “photographer of the decade” by The Guardian in 1989. Among his many photographs were some stunning pieces of Kim Wilde from the early Eighties.

He grew up in Lye and attended Halesowen Technical School. At age 16, he started working in a factory. After joining a local camera club, Griffin studied photography at Manchester School of Art, which became part of Manchester Polytechnic whilst he was there and from which he graduated in 1972. After college, Griffin moved to London to work as a fashion photographer. At the recommendation of Lester Bookbinder he instead took a job as a corporate photographer for the London-based business magazine Management Today, and later other publications. By the 1980s, Griffin had become known as a corporate photography expert. His first solo show was in London in 1981.

Around this same time, Griffin began working in the music industry, landing his first music gigs with Stiff Records. His work shooting businessmen translated well to many of the groups of the time who also dressed in suits and ties, such as the Jam and Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Over the next few years, he photographed such as acts as Siouxsie Sioux, Kate Bush, Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Toyah Willcox, R.E.M., Billy Idol, Iggy Pop, Ringo Starr, Queen and Peter Gabriel. His work appeared on many album covers of the era, notably that of Depeche Mode’s A Broken Frame (1982), often cited as one of the best color photographs ever shot.

In 1989, he left still photography behind to focus on TV commercials, music videos, and films. For many years, he owned a production company, where he worked as a commercial director. Griffin returned to stills in the early 2000s. In 2010, his portraiture retrospective Face to Face was exhibited in Birmingham. His work is held in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, both in London.

Kim Wilde - © Brian Griffin
Kim Wilde – © Brian Griffin