Derek Ridgers

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Derek Ridgers
Background information
Birth name Derek Ridgers
Born (1952-10-20) 20 October 1952 (age 62)
Chiswick, London, England
Genres Photography
Occupation(s) Photographer
art director
Years active 1971–present
Website Official website

Derek Ridgers (born 20 October 1952), is an English photographer with a career spanning over thirty years. He is best known for his photography of music, film and club/street culture – photographing everyone from James Brown to The Spice Girls, from Clint Eastwood to Johnny Depp – as well as photographing politicians (Tony Blair), gangsters ('Mad' Frankie Fraser), artists (Julian Schnabel), writers (Martin Amis), fashion designers (Vivien Westwood) and sportsmen (Tiger Woods).

He has also photographed famous and sometimes influential British social scenes such as skinhead, fetish, club, punk and the New Romantics.

Early life[edit]

Born in Chiswick, West London, Derek Ridgers trained as a graphic artist at Ealing School of Art 1967–71,[1] and where one of his fellow students was Freddie Mercury. Ridgers's love of music led him to attend many live events of the time, one of which was The 14 Hour Technicolour Dream. He talked about the experience on Gideon Coe's BBC6 Music show on 21 June 2011.[2]

Following art school, Ridgers went into advertising, where he worked as an art director for ten years.[1] One of his clients was a camera company and he picked up the product and gave it a try. When he parted with the agency he decided to take up photography.

One of the first concerts at which he took photos was one by Ron Wood, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend at the Finsbury Park Rainbow, 13 January 1973. In his website blog, Ridgers reminisces about the night.[3]

Professional career[edit]


The emergence of punk rock in the late seventies fascinated Ridgers.[4]

Among his first published work were pictures taken on a second-hand Nikkormat, bought as a cheap camera to take to punk nights at the Hammersmith Palais. Ridgers used a flash on a home-made bracket. During this time he photographed a very early Adam and the Ants, The Slits, Penetration, The Clash and The Damned.[5]

Before long his pictures were attracting attention, and he had an exhibition at the ICA in 1978.[6]

New romantics[edit]

After leaving advertising to become a professional photographer, Ridgers began working for music and style magazines such as NME[7] and The Face and building up a body of work that would help establish a reputation as one of the foremost documentarians of contemporaneous British pop and street culture,[citation needed] founded on photography of skinheads, punks and new romantics.


Ridgers's early photography of skinheads led to several situations where he was personally at risk from some of them until he became accepted as an observer. They were approachable and friendly.[8]

Many of these photographs were later collected together in the 2010 book Skinheads.[n 1]

Morrissey/Skinhead photograph[edit]

Morrissey asked for a print of one of Ridgers's skinhead portraits; he used it during his Your Arsenal tour. As well as being used on the tour passes, the image was enlarged enormously and used as the stage backdrop for the tour and for Morrissey's 'Madstock' Finsbury Park gig of August 1992.[9]


Ridgers has become probably the longest-standing photographic chronicler of the British fetish club scene; starting from the early days of its inception as a little-known underground scene – for example, Ridgers attended the start of the Skin Two club in 1982, which was first held in Stallions nightclub in Soho – and right up until the Rubber Ball[vague] and quasi-mainstream acceptability. His work also appeared in Skin Two magazine under the editorship of Michelle Olley. She wrote of his book (Stare) of this work:

Every midnight tribe is here – hippies, punks, ravers, goths, teds, mods and every pretty boy and dirty girl in between, shot in situ in their un-natural habitat. [. . . The book] manages to bring the glamour vixens and club kids together, creating a heady mix of reportage and eroticism. Uniquely, this is 'thrill of the moment' erotic realism, coming as it does directly from the subject, and not the photographer. He shoots it as he sees it, which makes this a rare and precious record of a certain kind of cheekiness, at a certain point in the evening, at a certain time in history.[10]

Straight portraiture[edit]

As well as his portrait-reportage work, Ridgers also began to amass commissions to photograph music and film stars of the era. Working predominantly for NME, but also for national newspapers and other publications, he has photographed artists as varied as Frank Zappa,[11] John Lee Hooker,[12] The Ramones,[13] Prince,[14] The Spice Girls,[15] JG Ballard,[16] Richard Harris[17] and Martin Amis.[18]


Ridgers had already collaborated with the writer James Brown at NME. When Brown left to become the editor and co-founder – with Tim Southwell and Mick Bunnage – of Loaded magazine, Ridgers was asked to contribute.[19] Ridgers was present at the inception of a magazine that at its height sold 400,000 copies a month – thus bringing Ridgers's work to its widest ever regular audience.

As well as photographing a wide range of musicians, actors, writers and athletes, during his long tenure as a cover/features photographer at Loaded Ridgers would first establish his own page of club photographs called 'Getting Away With It',[20] which would run for the next fifteen years (until 2010), becoming one of the longest running features in the magazine's history.[21] Many of these black and white fetish club scene photographs were later collected together in the book Stare: Portraits from the Endless Night.

By this time, Ridgers had amassed such a large number of anecdotes during his life as a photographer that Loaded also gave him his own page, "The Derek Ridgers Interview", in which he told behind-the-scenes stories relating to many photo shoots over the years.

When We Were Young[edit]

"When We Were Young" by Derek Ridgers

When We were Young: Club and Street Portraits 1978 – 1987.[n 2] collects together portraits of young skinheads, punks and new romantics from the seventies through to late eighties; many, like Boy George, Steve Strange and Spandau Ballet, were photographed while still unknown.

Derek Ridgers's compulsion to photograph London clubs over two decades was an extraordinary one. He has produced thousands of remarkable photographs of remarkable people, transient beings moving across an urban landscape, experimenters, flamboyant souls who cared more than anything about how they looked and whose greatest fear was of being ordinary.

But it was the ordinariness that Derek Ridgers glimpsed in these costumed characters that makes his photographs so powerful. Ridgers's photographs are an undeliberate chapter in a decade of English social and cultural history which changed the way we thought about music, fashion and consumption. It was the decade of the handmade and the customised, of Oxfam shopping, conspicuous sexuality, of excess, wide success and dismal failure.

Played out against the backdrop of a rapidly changing London cityscape and a revolution in politics and economics, the style cultures that Derek Ridgers photographed meant far more than style.[22]

Of Ridgers's photographs of this period, Val Williams writes:

While Meadows' subjects[n 3] revealed themselves as gauche, inhibited and curious, Ridgers's young men and women inhabited the camera's gaze as performers in a very particular arena. But it was the ordinariness that he glimpsed in these costumed characters that makes his photographs so powerful – the people he photographed wore beauty like a mask. The worlds that Ridgers photographed were small ones, peopled by young men and women who were captivated by the idea of image. His photographs do not search souls, they look at surfaces; these are not so much portraits as documents. . . . His subjects knew the rules of photography, knew not to smile or gesticulate – they were always still, needing to be recorded, longing for celebrity. Ridgers's photography captured the transitory nature of culture, a fleeting glimpse into what arrives, passes and is gone.[23]


During his career, Ridgers has worked for many publications, including Time Out, The Sunday Telegraph, NME,[24][25] The Face, Loaded,[26][27] The Independent on Sunday,[1] The Guardian, The Observer,[28] The Sunday Times, The Independent, GQ, GQ Style, Melody Maker and Sounds.[29][30][31][32][33]


In 2010, Ridgers collaborated with designer and printer Danny Flynn in an exhibition at Ketchum Pleon entitled Every Bodies Enemies. The pieces combined Ridgers's portraits of musicians, film makers and actors, such as Keith Richards, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, Dennis Hopper, John Lee Hooker, David Lynch, Elvis Costello and Skin with Flynn's unusual screenprinting technique of printing using everyday powders such as sugar, salt, custard and raspberry powder.[34]

Examples of the work produced for the Every Bodies Enemies gallery show, London:

Sunday Times Magazine 50th anniversary exhibition[edit]

In February 2012 the Sunday Times Magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary[35] with a photographic exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London of some of the photographs it had shown since its launch in 1962 as the UK's first newspaper colour supplement.[36] Photographs by 60 photographers were shown, including Derek Ridgers's portrait of Keith Richards.

The website Shaper of the 80s covered Ridgers's involvement in the exhibition with an article that included a short interview with Ridgers and that began:

What we see is a charismatic mugshot of wrecked old Scary Stone, Keith Richards, snapped back in late 1985 when the face of the “10th greatest guitarist of all time” was engraved with a tiny fraction of the million lines it boasts now. He was settling into his marriage to the model Patti Hansen, and Derek persuaded the rock star to pose for him after a chance encounter at the Savoy hotel in London. He says: “There was no PR entourage whatsoever. He couldn’t possibly have been any more helpful. I guess that’s what makes him the guy he is.”[37]


Selected books by Derek Ridgers[edit]

Selected books featuring the work of Derek Ridgers[edit]

  • Skinhead – by Nick Knight
  • Fashioning London: Clothing and the Modern Metropolis – by Christopher Breward
  • Fashion as Photograph: Viewing and Reviewing Images of Fashion – by Eugenie Shinkle
  • New Romantics: The Look – by Dave Rimmer
  • Moshpit Culture – by Joe Ambrose and Chris Charlesworth
  • Popular Culture: The Metropolitan Experience – by Iain Chambers
  • In the Flesh: The Cultural Politics of Body Modification – by Victoria Pitts
  • Cultural Studies: Vol 1 – by James Donald
  • Liminal Acts: A Critical Overview of Contemporary Performance and Theory – by Susan Margaret Broadhurst
  • The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion – by Malcolm McLaren, Paul Gorman, and Paul Smith
  • Rap Attack 3: African Rap To Global Hip Hop – by David Toop
  • Love Lust Desire – by Michelle Olley
  • Turquoise Days: The Weird World of Echo and The Bunnymen – by Chris Adams
  • Fetish: Masterpieces of Erotic Fantasy Photography – by Tony Mitchell
  • Vintage: Art of Dressing Up – by Tracy Tolkien
  • My Favourite Model – by Various


Derek Ridgers's work has been exhibited internationally since the seventies in cities as far ranging as London, Paris, Moscow, Adelaide and Los Angeles, and in venues such as the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Museum of Modern Art, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Museum of London, Britart Gallery, Selfridges and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • Punk PortraitsICA, London (1978)[1]
  • Skinheads – Chenil Studio Gallery (1980)[1]
  • The Kiss – Photographers' Gallery, London (1982)[1]
  • One Man Show – City Centre Art Gallery, Dublin (1990)[1]
  • Every Bodies Enemies (with printer Danny Flynn) - Ketchum Pleon, London (2010)[42]
  • The Endless Night: 35 Years of Nightclub Portraits – The Museum of Club Culture, Hull (2012)[43]
  • Unseen – The Society Club gallery, London (2012)[44]
  • Afternoon at the Seven Palms and Other Stories – The Society Club, London (2013)[45]
  • All Or Nothing - G511ERY gallery, London (2013), and Ketchum Pleon, London (2014)[46]
  • Derek Ridgers - London Youth - Galerie Koll & Friends, Berlin (2015)[47]

Other exhibitions[edit]

  • Contemporary British Photography – The Developed Image, Adelaide, (1983)[citation needed]
  • Les Mythes de nos NippesMuseum of Modern Art, Paris (1983)[citation needed]
  • Moe de Vie – Moscow (1984)[citation needed]
  • The FacePhotographers' Gallery, London (1984)[citation needed]
  • Portraits – East Studio, Canterbury (1986)[citation needed]
  • NME ExposedTerrence Higgins Trust, UK touring show (1995–96)[citation needed]
  • Rock and Roll Attitudes – Maison Europenne de la Photographie, Paris (1998)[citation needed]
  • Rock and Roll Years – Proud Gallery, Brighton (1999)[citation needed]
  • IconsNational Portrait Gallery, London (1999)[citation needed]
  • Look at Me: Fashion And Photography In Britain 1960 To The Present Day – Milton Keynes Art Gallery (2001)[48]
  • Golden – Britart Gallery, London (2002)[citation needed]
  • Very Public ArtSelfridges, London (2003)[citation needed]
  • Black British StyleVictoria and Albert Museum, London (2004–05)[49]
  • The London LookMuseum of London (2004)[50]
  • How We Are NowNational Portrait Gallery, London (2007)[51][52]
  • How We Are: Photographing Britain. Tate Britain, London (2007).[53]
  • Club F**K 20th Anniversary – Antebellum, Los Angeles (2009)[citation needed]
  • Every Bodies Enemies (with Danny Flynn) – Ketchum Pleon, London (2010)[54]
  • Observers: Photographers of the British Scene from the 1930s to Now – Galeria de Arte do Sesi, São Paulo, Brazil (2012)[55][55]
  • Sunday Times Magazine 50th Anniversary Exhibition – Saatchi Gallery, London (2012)[37]
  • Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s – The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, USA (2013)[56][57]
  • Ibiza: Moments In Love - Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2013)[58]
  • Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980sVictoria and Albert Museum, London (2013)[59][59]
  • Observers: British Photography and the British Scene - SESI - São Paulo, Brazil (2012)[60]
  • Behind NME Lines - NEO Bankside, London (2012)[61]
  • Selected Works - Comme des Garçons Dover Street Market, London (2012)
  • London Fashion Week (with silversmith Andrew Bunney) - 2012[62]
  • The Sunday Times Magazine 50th Anniversary Exhibition - Saatchi Gallery (2012)[63]
  • Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s – The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, USA (2013)[56][57]
  • Ibiza: Moments In Love - Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2013)[58]
  • Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980sVictoria and Albert Museum, London (2013)[59][59]
  • Highlights - Galerie Hilaneh von Kories, Hamburg (2013)[64]
  • Pump Me Up - The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC (2013)[65]
  • 50 Years of British Style - Ben Sherman, Spitalfields, London (2013)[66]
  • Ibiza: Moments in Love - Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2013)[67]
  • Club to Catwalk - LONDON FASHION IN THE 1980s, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2013)[68]
  • Mauvais Genre - Addict Galerie, Paris (2014)[69]
  • Accrochage de Photographies - Addict Galerie, Paris (2015)[70]
  • One Nation Under a Groove - South Bank Centre, London (2015)[71]
  • Work, Rest and Play: British Photography from 1960s to Today - Touring Exhibition, China (2015)[72]
  • Metropolis - White, Milan 2015[73]

Permanent collections[edit]

Ridgers's photography is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.[1]

Other interests[edit]

Ridgers is a keen amateur poker player after developing his taste for the game when he covered the World Series of Poker in 2000 for Loaded magazine, photographing the event and the participation in it of the British champion Dave Ulliott ('Devilfish').[74]

Ridgers is a lifelong fan of the English football team, Tottenham Hotspur, is a Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust board member, and has designed the Trust ads and literature.[75]


  1. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "". Schaden.comaccessdate=2014-07-26. 
  3. ^ Williams is referring to the people Daniel Meadows photographed during his bus journey of 1973–74.
  4. ^ Ridgers's page at is here [2]. Un/seen is here [3] at
  5. ^ Unpublished is here [4] at
  6. ^ Afternoon at the Seven Palms is here [5] at


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Biography of Ridgers, in Val Williams and Susan Bright, How We Are: Photographing Britain, from the 1840s to the Present (London: Tate, 2007; ISBN 978-1-85437-7142), p.219.
  2. ^ Henry Real (21 June 2011). "BBC Radio 6 Music – Gideon Coe, 21/06/2011". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Ponytail Pontifications". Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Ponytail Pontifications". 10 May 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  5. ^ "Derek Ridgers Photo Gallery". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  6. ^ ""Punk And Chips: Punk Photographs by Derek Ridgers", Complete list of exhibitons since 1948" (PDF). Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "N.M.E. | Archived Music Press". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  8. ^ Derek Ridgers, "Skinheads: 1979–1984", Sabotage Times.
  9. ^ "MORRISSEY Flying the flag or flirting with disaster?". 22 August 1992. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Michelle Olley, introduction to Derek Ridgers, Stare: Portraits from the Endless Night. Goliath, 2007. ISBN 3936709211.
  11. ^ "Derek Ridgers: Portraits". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Derek Ridgers: Portraits". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "Derek Ridgers: Portraits". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "Derek Ridgers: Portraits". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "Derek Ridgers: Portraits". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  16. ^ "Derek Ridgers: Portraits". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  17. ^ "Derek Ridgers: Portraits". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  18. ^ "Derek Ridgers: Portraits". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  19. ^ Tim Hulse (5 October 1997). "JAMES BROWN, THE LATEST EDITION – Arts and Entertainment". The Independent. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Derek Ridgers Photo Gallery". Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  21. ^ [6][dead link]
  22. ^ Val Williams (Director of Photography at the London College of Communication and exhibition curator at the Tate and the Barbican)[vague]
  23. ^ Val Williams, "Marks on the flesh: Character, costume and performance in British photography"; in Val Williams and Susan Bright, How We Are: Photographing Britain, from the 1840s to the Present (London: Tate, 2007; ISBN 978-1-85437-7142), p.21.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ [7][dead link]
  30. ^ "Derek Ridgers Street Fashion Photography". 17 October 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  31. ^ "derek ridgers | Archived Music Press". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  32. ^ "The Face, The Archive – The Face Magazine: April, 1985". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  33. ^ "snuff | Archived Music Press". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  34. ^ Ketchum Break Through. "News" (in Spanish). Ketchum. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  35. ^ "50 years of the Sunday Times Magazine", Sunday Times, 20 January 2012.
  36. ^ "The Sunday Times Magazine 50th Anniversary". 18 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  37. ^ a b "Smile please, Derek — you’re one of the Sunday Times Mag’s 60 ace snappers in its birthday show", Shapers of the 80s, 3 February 2012. Accessed 5 March 2013.
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ "The Endless Night 35 Years of nightclub portraits 1977–2011", Museum of Club Culture, 2011. Accessed 28 February 2013.
  44. ^ "Derek Ridgers: Un/Seen | The Society Club". 29 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  45. ^ "Derek Ridgers presents Afternoon at the Seven Palms and Other Stories at The Society Club | The Society Club". 24 May 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  46. ^ <
  47. ^
  48. ^ "The UK Gallery, Museum, Heritage and Visitor Attraction Centre". 1 August 2001. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  49. ^ "Fix Up, Look Sharp" (PDF). Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  50. ^ [8][dead link]
  51. ^ "nick cave | The Society Club". 29 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  52. ^ "➤ Proustian frissons aplenty as Derek Ridgers' photographs revisit three decades | ➢➢ Shapers of the 80s ➣➣". 30 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  53. ^ See the exhibition catalogue: Val Williams and Susan Bright, How We Are: Photographing Britain, from the 1840s to the Present (London: Tate, 2007; ISBN 978-1-85437-7142).
  54. ^ "Pleon London Hosts Award-Winning Printmaker and Typographer Danny Flynn". Ketchum. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  55. ^ a b "Photobus ~ Exhibitions". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  56. ^ a b "Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s: Exhibits on". 1 March 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  57. ^ a b "Pump Me Up Party 02/22/2013 – Corcoran Gallery of Art". 22 February 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  58. ^ a b
  59. ^ a b c d "Club to Catwalk: About the Exhibition – Victoria and Albert Museum". 10 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^ "Derek Ridgers". Derek Ridgers. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  75. ^ "Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust – Members of the Board". 30 October 2008. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 

External links[edit]