The Morning After: Faye Dunaway by Terry O’Neill
09th September 2021
Terry O’Neill is one of the world’s most prolific and collected photographers. Capturing the iconic, honest, and vulnerable moments of his famous sitters for over 50 years, he is known for his unique snapshot aesthetic. Depicting the frontline of fame, it was his long-term relationship and marriage with Faye Dunaway that resulted in some of the most memorable images of the American actor and his career. Faye Dunaway was one of the most popular actors in the 1970s, playing neurotic, ambitious women with incredible magnetism and allure.
In one of O’Neill’s best known photographs, he portrays her the morning after Oscar night in March 1977, the lack of sleep and evidence of a turning point in her career just beginning to dawn on her. This glassiness of sleep, her candid pose, and the abruptness of pausing to eat presents this scene as effortlessly glamourous. This image is one of a series of images taken on this morning, and one O’Neill is personally proud of, ‘I look at this picture often, and I’m still so proud of it. It’s still the best Oscar picture ever taken. And modern photographers should take that as a challenge.’
Faye is dressed in a silk gown and high heels, slumped in a chair by the swimming pool at the Beverley Hills Hotel. Her feet are scattered with that day’s newspapers, announcing the previous night’s Academy Awards news, Faye’s own achievement placed in the foreground of the composition laid casually on the breakfast table. She had won her award for her performance in Network; however, she seems less than euphoric with her success. Her gaze is beyond the boundary of the image, looking stunned and yet lonely in her accomplishment, ‘she isn’t sure quite who she is anymore. I waited for her to look away from the camera, and I got the shot’. Wanting a more organic and honest image of an Oscar winner than the standard press photos, this moment was pre-planned when the couple met on a magazine shoot the week before.
Rightly nicknamed by O’Neill as ‘The Morning After’, he has noted the thought process behind the image; ‘I wanted to capture the look of dazed confusion, to capture that state of utter shock that Oscar winners enter, where they go to bed thrilled, then overnight, it dawns on them that they’ve changed, that they’ve just become a star. And not just a star, a millionaire.’ Dunaway had gone to bed at 3am and yet agreed to photograph with O’Neill at 6:30am before anyone else was at the pool. The resulting photograph conveys this morning-after sentiment, a beautiful combination of lethargy and slight melancholy, whilst also revealing the true nature of fame behind the scenes.
The ArtistBeginning his career at the start of the 1960’s, Terry O’Neill focused his lens on youth culture, film, music and fashion, capturing the frontline of fame for over six decades. Photographing icons such as The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, Twiggy and The Rolling Stones, O’Neill quickly developed a reputation as the defining photographer of the ‘Swinging Sixties’. Continuing to work closely with stars throughout the following decades, O’Neill’s photographs became popular covers of international magazines and newspapers such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and The Sunday Times.Artist Page
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