Norman Parkinson: 10 Things You Might Not Know

Norman Parkinson, the fashion photographer famous for his work with the Beatles, died in 1990 but his memory and photographic legacy lives on. If he were still alive, Sir Parkinson would have turned 100 years old yesterday, on the 21st April 2013. To celebrate his centenary, Google UK changed their logo for one day to incorporate an illustration of the iconic photographer, in a tribute to his memory.

Sir Norman Parkinson, CBE is considered by many to be one of the most influential photographers of the 20th Century. As well as his work with the Beatles, he was a fashion and portrait photographer for Vogue and received several prestigious awards for his efforts.

Here are 10 little-known facts that you may not be aware of about the man behind the camera:


1. He was born Ronald William Parkinson Smith in 1913 and attended the prestigious Westminster School in central London before starting his career as an apprentice photographer in 1931. He was later fired from his apprenticeship at Speaight & Sons for misusing the equipment.


2. He worked as a reconnaissance photographer for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.


3. Norman Parkinson was one of the first fashion photographers to take models out of the studio and photograph them on the street. He said: “I never work in studios if I can help it, because working in a studio is such hard work.”


4. Brian Ferry was first introduced to Gerry Hall by a photograph taken of her by Parkinson, which captivated the musician. She later posed for Siren – Roxy music’s 5th studio album.


5. Parkinson also discovered Nena von Schlebrügge at age 16 and brought her to London for Vogue magazine. As well as being a top model during the ‘50s and ‘60s, she is the mother of actress and model, Uma Thurman.


6. Zandra Rhodes told Vogue magazine that Norman Parkinson once guarded her car for half an hour after she had run out of petrol so that she wouldn’t get a ticket.


7. In 2013, he was included in a collection of First Class stamps released by the Royal Mail on the theme of “Great Britons”.


8. Norman Parkinson married 3 times over the course of his life – Margaret Banks, who he married in 1935 and divorced in 1940; Thelma Woolley, who he married in 1942; and finally model, Wenda Rogerson, who he married in 1947 and lived with until she died in 1987.


9. He and his wife, Wenda, moved to Tobago in 1963, where they set up a pig farm and sold sausages.


10. In 1969, Parkinson was invited to be an official photographer for the royal family. He later photographed the Queen Mother for her official portrait on her eightieth birthday.


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