Here is first in a series of bios on some of my favorite photographers…..
Born in 1938 in London, David Bailey’s youth had nothing to do with photography. Growing up in London’s East End, he felt his career choices were limited to “…a boxer, a car thief, or maybe a musician.” Of course, he became none of those things, but did hold down a few odd jobs to earn money; he was a carpet salesman, tallyman, shoe salesman and a window-dresser. Eventually, he became inspired by photography while in the British Royal Air Force in the mid-1950s after discovering Henri Cartier Bresson’s work. Bailey began readingLIFE and other American photo magazines, and soon thereafter purchased his first camera.
Three years after his first camera purchase, and at the tender age of 22, Bailey was taking photos for British Vogue. Known for his signature stark backgrounds and dramatic lighting, Bailey quickly became sought after for his extraordinary fashion and celebrity photography. Bailey was responsible for photographing some of the most famous people in Britain during that time period, including: fashion designer Mary Quant, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Mia Farrow, Catherine Deneuve, Michael Caine, Twiggy and Penelope Tree. Bailey also photographed fashion trends in London and New York for AmericanVogue and Glamour, and his work showcased the cultural and fashion turn of the 1960s, including the punk movement.
Besides his groundbreaking photographic endeavors, Bailey himself was often the subject of gossip via his personal life, and became almost as famous as the celebrities he photographed. But throughout it all, Bailey maintained his personal sense of style and art, citing Picasso as one of his greatest inspirations. His work has remained consistent and his signature minimalist style has rarely varied in his career.
Bailey’s numerous publications showcase his work and highlight his time with a variety of celebrities. Goodbye Baby and Amen focuses on the years that made him famous and includes photographs of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and popular actors, artists, writers and politicians.David Bailey’s Box of Pin-ups (his first book of portraits), and David Bailey’s Rock and Roll Heroes(featuring Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, The Who, Seal, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Sting and Dave Stewart)demonstrate his intimacy with groundbreaking artists. Most recently, Bailey’s work has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Italian Vogue, The London Times and Talk.