Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 17:01 UK

Tennis Girl poster photographer dies

Martin Elliott with the photo - Apex pictures
Martin Elliott won worldwide fame with the shot

The photographer behind Tennis Girl, one of the world's biggest-selling posters, has died at the age of 63.

Martin Elliott took his most famous shot in 1976 of his then girlfriend dressed in tennis gear, hitching her skirt to reveal a bare bottom.

The image, which featured in a calendar, shot to fame and more than two million copies were sold worldwide.

Mr Elliott died at his home in Truro, Cornwall, last week following a 10-year battle with cancer.

He took his most famous picture, featuring 18-year-old Fiona Butler, on a university tennis court while studying photography in Birmingham.

The pair borrowed a white tennis dress, racket and balls for the shot which was taken from behind as Ms Butler raised her dress, showing her left cheek.

'Schoolboy's fantasy'

The picture was sold to poster chain Athena but Mr Elliott retained the copyright.

It was first published as part of a calendar for the 1977 Silver Jubilee before being made into the poster that hung on schoolboys' bedroom walls around the world.

The poster was derided by critics at the time as a "schoolboy's fantasy" but it went on to become one of the most famous pictures in the world.

It is not a picture I would buy
Martin Elliott

On his own website, Mr Elliott called it "the most published photograph in the world".

It has been parodied by various celebrities including Alan Carr and Kylie Minogue and was often seen in the background of the satirical puppet show Spitting Image.

The photographer once said in an interview that it was "not a picture I would buy", putting its appeal down to the seaside postcard spirit of the image.

Mr Elliott never revealed how much he made from the photo, but his widow Noelle, has said the couple had "done well" out of it and were still receiving royalties for it to this day.

Ms Butler, who was not paid for her work, has always maintained she will never be embarrassed by the photograph.

After qualifying, Mr Elliott went on to work in advertising and had a studio in Birmingham.

He retired to Cornwall 11 years ago after living in Stourbridge, in the West Midlands, and Portishead, Somerset.

His funeral will take place in Truro on 9 April.

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