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Brian Griffin

Born in 1948. Lives and works in London.


Considered “the photographer of the decade” by the Guardian Newspaper in 1989, “the most unpredictable and influential British portrait photographer of the last decades” by the British Journal of Photography in 2005 and “one of Britain’s most influential photographers” by the World Photography Organisation in 2015, Brian Griffin has been a freelance photographer, filmmaker and TV commercials and music video film director since 1972.


Born in Birmingham in 1948, Brian Griffin grew up in the Black Country. At sixteen years old, he worked in a factory, making conveyors for five years. In 1969, at twenty-one, he went to Manchester Polytechnic (1969 – 72) to study photography, one year before Martin Parr. After finishing the photo school in 1972, Griffin came straight down to London intending to be a fashion photographer and met Roland Schenk, the charismatic art director on Management Today, who offered him a job as a corporate photographer in November 1972. Brian Griffin continued working with him until the middle of the eighties.


Brian Griffin has been early on recognized as one of the most eminent British photographers of the seventies and eighties and as part of the “British Photographers of the Thatcher Years” with Martin Parr, Paul Graham, Graham Smith, Jo Spence and Victor Burgin, with whom he has exhibited in many iconic exhibitions: Young British Photographers at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford in 1975 that toured in Europe and the United States; Portraits of Our Time at the Photographer’s Gallery in London in 1978; Three Perspectives on Photography: Recent British Photography, Hayward Gallery, 1979, among Martin Parr, Graham Smith, Jo Spence, Victor Burgin; Ten Contemporary British Photographers at the MIT in 1982; British Contemporary Photography Coming of Age at the Houston Fotofest, the Texan photo festival in 1986.


Following his first solo show Rock ‘n’ Roll and The Office at the Contrast Gallery in London in 1981, during the eighties, Brian Griffin had a lot of solo shows in UK, France, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Austria or Japan, including the ones at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1984, at the photo festival Rencontres d’Arles in France in 1987, and at the National Gallery in London in 1988.


Brian Griffin has published twenty books between 1978 and 2015. Brian Griffin often self-published his own books. Until 1990, he self-published six: Brian Griffin Copyright in 1978, Y in 1983, Open in 1986, Portraits in 1987, Portraits, Second Edition in 1988, and Work in 1989. Work went on to be awarded the Best Photography book in the World at the Barcelona Primavera Fotografica 1991. The Life magazine used the photograph “A Broken Frame” on its front cover of a special supplement “The Greatest Photographs Of The 80’s”.


In November 1991, after twenty years, Brian Griffin “walked away from photography,” as he himself remarked, and begun a worldwide-recognized carrier in advertising commercials and music videos during the nineties. He returned to photography in 2002. Since 2000 he has published 12 books and has had more than fifteen solo shows and four retrospectives: Influences (Retrospective) at the Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland in 2005, Face to Face: A Retrospective at Birmingham, UK in 2010, Brian Griffin: Annual Report 1974-2013, at the photo festival Foto/Industria in Bologna, Italy in 2013, and the latest one No Compromise (Retrospective) at the Kolga Tiblisi Photofestival in Georgia in 2015.


Brian Griffin has won many awards for his carrier as a photographer and filmmaker, including four ‘Most Outstanding Awards’ by the British association D & AD (Design and Art Direction) between 1984 and 1989. In 1987, he granted the ‘Freedom of the City of Arles, France’ during the photo festival Les Rencontres d’Arles. His book WORK won two prizes: the ‘Most Outstanding Award for Photography in a Book’ by D & AD in 1989 and the ‘Best Photographic book in the world’ by the pioneering Spanish festival Primavera Fotografica in Barcelona in 1990. Brian Griffin also won ‘Best Commercial of the Year’ by the Bafta Academy awards in 1992 for Forte/Saatchi & Saatchi. His short movie Claustrofoamia made in 1994 received the ‘Golden Monkey Award’ for Best Film at the Mons International Short Film Festival in Belgium and the ‘Certificate of Merit’ at the Chicago International Film Festival, both in 1995.


In 2009, Brian Griffin became the patron of the Derby Festival of Photography and continues to be the Festiva’ls patron. In September 2013, he received the ‘Centenary Medal’ from the Royal Photographic Society in recognition of a lifetime achievement in photography. On March 3rd, 2014, he received an Honorary Doctorate by Birmingham City University for his lifetime contribution to the City of Birmingham.


Brian Griffin’s photographs are held in the permanent collections of major art institutions including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Arts Council of Great Britain, London; the British Council, London; the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Museum Folkwang, Essen; the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; the Art Museum Reykjavik, Iceland; the Mast Foundation, Bologna; and the Museu da Imagem, Braga, Portugal.





BORN: in 1948, in Birmingham, UK.






Honorary Doctorate Birmingham City University, 2014                   

Manchester Polytechnic School of Photography 1969-1972        





TV Commercials/ Music Video film director 1991 -                             

Co-established Produktion 1991                              

Established Brian Griffin Studio 1980               

Freelance Photographer 1972-                  

Worked for British Steel Corporation, Birmingham 1964-1969    





Victoria & Albert Museum, London

National Portrait Gallery, London

Arts council, London

British Council, London

West Midlands Arts, UK

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK

Stills gallery, Edinburgh

Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany

Mast Foundation, Bologna, Italy

City Museum, Braga, Portugal

Art Museum Reykjavik, Iceland

Baugur Group, Iceland





No Compromise (Retrospective), Kolga Tiblisi Photofestival, Georgia, 2015

DisCover Photography, Lodz Fotofestiwal, Poland, 2014                              

Brian Griffin: Annual Report 1974-2013, Foto/Industria, Bologna, Italy, 2013               

Mediterranees, Marseille – Provence 2013, France, 2013

Still Waters, Museum and Art Gallery, Derby, UK, 2013

Welcome to Hofn, Hofn, Iceland, 2012               

The Back Country, Arles-Beijing 2012, Beijing, China.

The Black Country, New Art Gallery Walsall, UK, 2011                     

The Black Country, College des Bernardins, Paris, 2010                  

Face to Face: A Retrospective, Birmingham, UK, 2010                     

One Man Show, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, France 2009                          

One Man Show, England & Co Gallery, London, UK, 2008                             

One Man Show, Ardenandanstruther Gallery, Petworth, UK, 2008                           

One Man Show, University of Falmouth, UK, 2008                          

TeamPhoto, St. Pancras, London, UK, 2007

The Water People, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2006                         

The Trip, One man show, German Gymnasium, London, 2005                    

Influences (Retrospective), Art Museum, Reyjkavik, Iceland, 2005                             

Gallery at Sketch, London, 2004                                                                                                               

Forum Stadt Park, Graz, Austria, 1990                                                                                                   

Perspektief, Rotterdam, 1990                                                                                                   

Hippolyte Gallery, Helsinki, 1990                                                                                                              

Pokjoinen Valokuvakeskus, Finland, 1990                                                                                            

Fotografiskt Galleri, Stockholm, 1990                                                                                                    

Photographer of the Decade, Poseurs, Birmingham, 1990           

2nd encontros da imagem, Braga, Portugal, 1988

WORK, National Portrait Gallery,London, 1988

WORK,  Stills Gallery, Edinburgh International Festival, 1988        

Galeria Artu $al, Barcelona, 1988                              

Pendle Photographic Gallery, Nelson, UK, 1988                 

Picture House, Leicester, UK, 1988                          

Impressions Gallery, York UK, 1988                         

Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal UK, 1988

Visage Gallery, Chester UK, 1988

De Moor, Amsterdam, 1987       

Portraits, Cite Des Photographes, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, France, 1987

Augenweide, Olympus Gallery, Hamburg,Germany, 1986                             

Razzle Dazzle Pop, ICA London, 1984

Brian Griffin, Olympus Gallery, Tokyo, 1984

Auras, Olympus Gallery, London, 1983

Brian Griffin, Manchester Polytechnic, 1983

Brian Griffin, Savile Club, London, 1983                

Foto Factory, Sweden, 1982

IKON Gallery, Birmingham, 1982

International Foto Festival, Malmo, Sweden, 1982

Galerie Viviane Esders, Paris, 1982

Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, 1982

Rock ‘n’ Roll and The Office, Contrast Gallery, London, 1981       





Entre Margens, Porto, Portugal, 2013               

Reference Works, New Library of Birmingham, UK, 2013

Photo 50, International Art Fair, London, 2013

Road to 2012, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2010                  

No Such Thing As Society, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales, 2008                              

Madame la Presidente, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, France, 2007

Between Today and Yesterday, Turnpike Gallery, Leigh, UK, 2007                             

A Question of Identity: Self-Portrait Photographs 1850-2000, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2005                   

Aspects of Architecture, Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, UK, 2004

Time Out Portraits, Tom Blau Gallery, London, 2004

Circling the Square, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2003

Collecting photographs, Focus Gallery, London, 2003

Le Cheveu, L'Espace Gallery. Montreal, Canada, 2003

People and The City: A Cultural Portrait of Birmingham, Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum, UK, 2003                

Seeing Things: Photographing Objects 1850-2001, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2002 

Meet, Chamber of Pop culture, London, 1999                    

UNDER/EXPOSED, Stockholm, 1998                       

Beyond The Portrait, Derby City Museum, UK, 1992                       

Interarte, Visor Centre Fotografic, Valencia, Spain, 1988

150 Years of Photography, Manes Hall, Prague, 1988

Through The Looking Glass, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1988

Towards A Bigger Picture, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1988

Kodachrome Classics, Photokina, Cologne, Germany, 1988

Createurs d’Images Createurs de Mode, Musee des Arts de la Mode, Paris, 1988

Tate Gallery, Liverpool UK, 1988

Norwich Arts Centre UK, 1988

Foto Biennale, Enschede, The Netherlands, 1988

XYZ Fotografie, Ghent, Belgium, 1988                                                                                    

IF sas, Milan, Italy, 1988                                                                                              

Fotografia Oltre, Chiasso, Switzerland, 1988                                                                                       

Galeria de l’Ancienne Poste, Calais, France, 1988                                                                                               

3rd Foto Biennale, Vigo, Spain, 1988                                                                                      

78:33:CD, The Gallery Downstairs, Burnley, Lancashire, UK, 1987                              

Disc Cover: The Art of the Record Sleeve, City of Edinburgh Art Gallery, Edinburgh, 1986 

Contrariwise: Surrealism and Britain, 1930-1986, Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea, Wales, 1986

Cricket and Modern Art, Art Gallery, Scarborough, UK, 1986

50 Years of Modern Colour Photography, Photokina, Cologne, Germany, 1986                 

European Portrait Photography, Foto Galerij, Antwerp, Belgium, 1986                   

20 For Today, National Portrait Gallery, London, 1986                   

British Contemporary Photography: Coming of Age, Houston Foto Festival, Texas, 1986               

Human Interest: Fifty Years of British Art About People, Cornerhouse, Manchester, 1985              

London at Night, The Photographers’ Gallery, London, 1983       

Lichtbildnisse - Das Porträt in der Fotografie, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, 1982

Contemporary British Photographers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, 1982               

Half a Dozen Photographers, Stafford Art Gallery, UK, 1981                        

Photogallery, St Leonard’s on Sea, 1979

Three Perspectives, Hayward Gallery, London, 1979                        

Portraits Of Our Time, The Photographers’ Gallery, London, 1978                             

Young British Photographers, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1975                     





Himmelstrasse, Brown Editions, 2015

The Black Kingdom, Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2013

Business as Usual, Editions Bessard, 2013

Still Waters, Derby Museum and Art Gallery, 2013

Face to Face, Birmingham Library, 2010

Team, LCR, 2007

The White Glove, Self-Published, 2006

Loaf of White Bread, Self-Published, 2006

Baugur The Movie, Baugur Group, 2006

The Water People, Self-Published, 2005

Brian Griffin Influences, Self-Published, 2005

Film Stills, Self-Published, 2000

Work, Central Books Ltd (Self-Published), 1989

Portraits, Second Edition, Self-Published, 1988

Portraits, Self-Published, 1987

Open, Self-Published, 1986

Power, paperback, Travelling Light, 1984

Auras, Olympus Gallery, 1983

Y (with Barney Bubbles), Self-Published Paper,  1983

Power, Travelling Light, 1981

Brian Griffin Copyright (with Barney Bubbles), Self-Published, 1978





AF (Spain); Anglia TV; Art; ArtLine; Atlantica; BBC Radio 1 My Top Ten; BBC Radio 4 Kaleidoscope; BBC TV Newsnight; British Journal of Photography; Camera Work; City Limits; Clichés; Connaissance des Arts; Creative Camera; The Daily Telegraph; Diorama; Domus; El Pais; El Temps; European Photography; The Face; Foto (Netherlands); Foto Vision; The Guardian; Image; Images Magazine; Le Monde; Liberation; Life (USA); Morgan Post; Paris Match; Photoreporter; Popular Photography (USA); Sunday Times Magazine; Ten:8; Thames TV 01 For London; Time Out; US Camera; Valencian.





‘Centenary Medal’ from the Royal Photographic Society, 2013

‘Best Photographic book in the world’, Primavera Fotografica, Barcelona,  1990 (for WORK)

‘Most Outstanding Award for Photography in a Book’, D & AD, 1989 (for WORK)

‘Most Outstanding Award for Promotional Magazine’, D & AD, 1988 (for Broadgate)

‘Most Outstanding Award for Self-Promotional Item’,  D & AD, 1988 (for Portraits)

The Art Directors’ Club, 2nd International Exhibition – Merit, 1988 (for Portraits)

Granted the ‘Freedom of the City’ during the Photo Festival Les Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, France, 1987

Mead Annual Report Show - ‘Commendation for Photography’, 1985 (Hewlett Packard)

‘Most Outstanding Award for Photography’, D & AD, 1984 (A Broken Frame/Depeche Mode)





Music Industry

British Murder Boys; Kate Bush; Elvis Costello and The Attractions; Depeche Mode; Devo; Echo and The Bunnymen; Peter Gabriel; Billy Idol; Joe Jackson; King Sunny Ade; Sir Paul McCartney; Mogwai; Pan Sonic; Panasonic; Pole; Iggy Pop; Psychedelic Furs; REM; Simple Minds; Siouxsie and The Banshees; Sly ‘n’ Robbie; Ringo Starr; Sting; Tindersticks; Throbbing Gristle.                                                                                 



Audi; Beefeater Gin; BMW; British Airways; British Rail; Courreges; Coutts & Co.; Credit Agricole; Ford Cars; Hewlett Packard; Hyatt Hotels; Ilford Film; International Wool Secretariat; KHD Deutz; Kodak; Levi Jeans; Lloyds Bank; London & Continental Railways; Marriott Hotels; Nike; Nissan; Olympus Cameras; P & O; Range Rover; Service Municipale; Sony; Smirnoff Vodka; Wrangler Jeans.



Arena Homme +; Broadgate; Comme des Garçons, SIX; Details; Esquire; The Face; GQ; GQ Italy; ID; Interview; Management Today; The Observer Magazine; Six; Spoon; Sunday Times Magazine; Time Out; The Times; L'uomo Vogue.


Annual Reports

ASDA; Baugur; CE Health; Coutts; Herbert Smith Solicitors; Hewlett Packard 1984 & 1988; Hewlett Packard Germany; London & Metropolitan; Lynwood Scientific; Metestates; National Freight Consortium; Reykavik Energy; Summit; TSB.






Film documentary for, and of, Sir Paul McCartney, 2004

Bluetown, 2000-2003 Feature film; written and directed.

The Curl, 1996 Short; written, photographed and directed.

Claustrofoamia, 1994 Short; written and directed.


TV. Commercials (Selection)

Access (Red Dress) GGT; Audi (Tunnel) BBH; BMW (Fate A + B), Jung von Matt; British Legion (PoppyAppeal) DFSD; Forte (For the World) Saatchi & Saatchi; British Airways (Dog, Cowboy), M & C Saatchi; Fuji Film (Fairground) Saatchi & Saatchi; BMW, Japan (Blind Spot); Coca Cola, USA (Summertime, Cooler); FIAT, Italy, Leo Burnett; IKEA, Germany (The Big Idea, Life In Reverse); Kodak, Italy, Leo Burnett; McEwans Lager (Rooms) CDP; Murphy’s Bitter (Winter Wonderland) BBH; Nissan (Journey) TBWA; Nissan (All or Nothing) TBWA; Roche Macaulay & Ptnrs; Sanatogen (Coal) WCRS; Tchibo (Privat Kaffee) Scholz & Friends; Tesco (False Economy) LHS; TGIF (Waiter) McCann Erickson.


Music Video (Selection)

Elvis Costello & The Attractions: “Sulky Girl”

Depeche Mode: “Only When I Lose Myself”

Echo & The Bunneymen: “Killing Moon”

Lodestar: “Down In The Mud”

Mogwai: “Xmas Steps / Stanley Kubrick”

Pan Sonic featuring Alan Vega: “Endless”

Panasonic: “Urania”

Vent 414: “Life Before You”



Winner of ‘Golden Monkey Award’ for Best Film, Mons International Short Film festival, 1995 (for CLAUSTROFOAMIA, 1994)

‘Certificate of Merit’, The Chicago International Film Festival, 1995 (for CLAUSTROFOAMIA, 1994)

Creative Circle - Best Director, 1992 (for Forte (For the World) Saatchi & Saatchi)

‘Best Commercial of the Year’, BAFTA Academy Awards, 1992 (Forte/Saatchi & Saatchi)





Les Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, France, 2009                          

One man show, England Gallery, London, 2008                 

National Gallery , Edinburgh, Scotland, 2007                       

National Portrait Gallery, London, 2004                

St. Martins College of Art, London, 2004                               

Art Museum Reykjavik, 2004                     

Derby University, 2004                 

Cambridge University, 2004                       

National Portrait Gallery, London, 2003                

Rhubarb-Rhubarb, Birmingham, 2003                   

BBC TV The Late Show, 1990                      

Encontros da imagem ‘90, Braga, 1990                 

Metro Cinema Derby, 1990                        

BBC TV The Late Show, 1989                      

National Portrait Gallery, London, 1989                

Silverman Hall, Nelson, 1988                      

3rd Foto Biennale, Vigo, 1988                    

Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh Festival, 1988                      

Theatre Antique, Arles, 1987                      





Visiting Professor at University of Derby, 2013                   





Patron of the Format Photo Festival, Derby, UK, 2009 and 2011