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The man who photographed the most iconic stars of the 1960s

Published 29th August 2016
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The man who photographed the most iconic stars of the 1960s
Written by Jamie K. White, CNN
A young Sean Connery clutching a glass of vodka. An enormously groovy Jimi Hendrix, swathed in opulent clothes. A wide-eyed, long-lashed Twiggy, posing against a Union Flag.
This is the work of famed photographer Terence Donovan. His subjects were some of the most celebrated icons of the last century.
The list is a long one. "Almost a million negatives and a great number of photographic prints," said his widow, Diana, who inherited his archives after his death in 1996. The collection has already spawned two books. The third, and latest, is devoted to his work in portraiture.
"He was a consummate photographer and craftsman -- the lights, the camera, everything," Diana Donovan said of her late husband.
Photographer Terence Donovan
Photographer Terence Donovan Credit: Courtesy Terence Donovan Archive
The pages of "Terence Donovan: Portraits" cross industry and personality, much like the photographer himself, described by his wife as "enormously dynamic. Hugely amusing. Lovely to be with."
During his career, he was highly sought after for his obvious range and skill.
"He was completely and utterly dedicated to photography," Diana Donovan said.
This devotion began at a very young age.
Terence Donovan was born in East London in 1936 to a working-class family. Fascinated with taking pictures, he began his career at 11, studying at the London School of Photo-Engraving. He became an apprentice at 15 and opened his own studio at 22.
He was an instant success, his daybook filled to the brim with appointments, including commissions from the royal family, particularly Princess Diana.
"He created a name for himself," Diana Donovan said.
He was an architect of "swinging London" -- a cultural revolution in the 1960s that redefined art, fashion and dancing. Donovan was there to capture and influence it.
He captured the faces of fashion models for the illustrious pages of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. But he could also photograph his children.
His wife said he was able to adjust from "the tenderness of say, Daisy, his daughter, compared to the very formal portrait of Margaret Thatcher," which now hangs inside the walls of 10 Downing Street.
"He was hugely amusing, clever," Diana Donovan said. "He always made an effort to put the person at ease, making them feel confident."
No matter who it was, she said, "it was always going to be the best possible representation of what he saw through his lens.
"(Photography) was in his soul and in his spirit."
British photographer Terence Donovan was known for his celebrity portraits and fashion photography. He died in 1996. The book "Terence Donovan: Portraits" is now available as well as a retrospective exhibition currently at The Photographers' Gallery in London. You can see more of his work on Instagram.