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The news broke this morning that David Bowie has passed away.

We woke up to find out that a seemingly immortal guardian of pop music was mortal after all. The news was a huge blow to the music world but Bowie was equally admired for his extroverted, adventurous style choices and commitment to alternative culture.

David Bowie was a shapeshifter, a style icon and a shimmering beacon for misfits everywhere. Barely a year passed without a transformation and Bowie taught thousands that it’s OK to be yourself, even if who you are is someone else entirely.

Nobody caught that spirit of liberal self-expression better than Japanese photographer Masayoshi Sukita. Sukita first shot Bowie in Japan in 1972 and their friendship continued for 40 years.

“It’s very hard for me to accept that Sukita-san has been snapping away at me since 1972 but that really is the case… May he click into eternity,” Bowie says in the book Speed of Life which collects some of Sukita’s most iconic portraits of the singer.

In the wake of Bowie’s untimely death we have put together a small selection of our favourite photographs from the pair’s near-lifelong collaboration. They are photographs that show Bowie for what he really was, a fashion frontrunner and a true chameleon.