Karl Ferris - Hypergallery

Karl Ferris

Early days

Karl Ferris is best known as the principal innovator of psychedelic photography. An English photographer beloved of the British Rock elite of the 1960s - Eric Clapton, Cream, Donovan, The Hollies and Jimi Hendrix - Ferris was sought after as a style consultant and personal photographer, to help create their public images we are now so familiar with.

Seeing Karl Ferris’ portfolio for the first time, in 1967, Jimi Hendrix said

You’re doing with photography what I’m doing with music – going far out beyond the limits and blowing minds.

Ferris went on to develop an intimate creative relationship with Hendrix, and other musicians and movers, that bore some of the most iconic imagery of the 1960s.

Having cut his photographic teeth as assistant to Master photographer Harold Nygard in Canada, Ferris’ creative explorations at the vanguard of the swinging sixties was equally indebted to his passion for fashion, and his time immersed in the Beatnik lifestyle of the early 1960s.

Armed with a portfolio of shots of jazz musicians and models from Vancouver, Ferris returned to the UK and began his photographic career in style – arriving on the scene at the wheel of his brand new Triumph Spitfire.



A spell in Ibiza in 1964 photographing summer fashions and partying with the likes of Bridget Bardot and Francois Hardy was followed by several sessions for British Vogue. During this time Ferris developed his experimental way with colour and made more connections in the flourishing London music scene. Then, in 1966, the Psychedelic scene really took hold, along with its own performance enhancing drug: LSD.

Ferris discovered The Fool in Ibiza and they opened a studio together which had a huge influence on the psychedelic scene in London at the time – they worked with The Beatles in that short period, among others.

A master innovator, Ferris took his experience with infrared technology in the RAF and his instinct for boundary pushing to the epicentre of psychedelic scene, hitting his stride just as the movement took hold. His lightshows drew the attention of Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd, in their early days in Notting Hill. His innovations in photography and fashion secured commissions from the likes of the Walker Brothers, The Hollies, Donovan and of course Jimi Hendrix. His legacy is undisputed and unforgettable.

I think psychedelia is really coming back into vogue. The resurgence of interest in the counter-culture that began in the 1960s, the benefits for our way of thinking, all these things that I was part of, has new relevance now.


Jimi loved my work and we really got on famously – we had both lived in Vancouver and swapped stories about living there.


I told him if I was to do the cover for him then I would really need to absorb his music for inspiration. So he brought me along to the Olympic Studios where he was recording Axis Bold As Love and I was blown away.


The whole lifestyle seemed to change in the summer of 1966. People were experimenting with mind expanding drugs, and I was starting to respond to all of this.