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D;avid Bailey shakes up conventions and the traditions of photography. He likes the purified, the authentic, the taken on the spot. His approach is personal, unique. He lives his job as a passion, a way to express his will, his desires, his fantasies.

The enfant terrible of fashion was born in London in 1938. A self-taught photographer, upon his recognition, he initiated an upheaval in fashion photography and advertising through an intimate approach. Its models are real women who claim to be such, proud, and no longer considered as mere clothes-bearers. He is, often mistakenly, considered a fashion photographer due to his association with Vogue. His more personal work includes landscape, reportage and nudes; an approach to photography strongly influenced by cinema and documentaries.

In 1948, he came across a black and white photo representing a woman in prayer, signed Henri Cartier-Bresson. He then acquires a film camera. This photograph, the discovery of Stravinsky and Picasso, will mark a turning point in the choice of an artistic career. “I saw a Picasso in Look magazine when I was seventeen. I didnt know what a work of art was before this, and it got me excited. If Ive ever had a semblance of a revelation in my life, this was one. Picasso showed me that there were no rules. A bicycle wheel does not have to be round. He had a simple visual inventiveness, never complicated, never pretentious. This is what I strive to express in my photographs, simplicity. »


After applying to magazines and photographers, David Bailey became a photographic assistant at the John French studio in 1959 and, in May 1960, a photographer for John Cole, before being hired at the age of 22 as a fashion photographer for the British magazine Vogue. An image for the Daily Express representing Paulene Stone, kneeling with a squirrel in her hand, and shot in the studio, is the harbinger of Baileys creative talent. This image marks the beginning of a break with the standards of the time. He quickly obtained his first cover for Vogue in February 1961. In one year, he shot 800 editorial pages for Vogue, a meteoric rise.


1966, Michelangelo Antonioni, famous Italian director, is inspired by David Bailey in his film Blowup, which describes the surreal life of a London fashion photographer.


David Bailey immortalizes John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Yoko Ono, or the Rolling Stones, then signs the cover of The Who album. He captures the portraits of many celebrities, Mia Farrow, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Peter Sellers or Michael Caine, or more recently Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell.

Bailey is also the author of several television commercials and documentaries. From 1968 to 1971, he directed and produced television documentaries titled Beaton, Warhol and Visconti. In 2001, he received the distinction of Commander of the British Empire.



For this interview, we met the Master in his London studio. Today, at 80, David Bailey is still active and creative. He continues photography, he paints, he sculpts… It is the reflection of a world, of an era, the portrait of an endearing, insightful, honest, funny and innovative man.


Do you consider yourself a photographer, a portrait painter, an artist?

None of the three. I dont particularly like photography. Its just a means of expression, a medium. It is exactly like a brush. I dont like cameras either, but they are tools with which I can express myself, they are just tools.


What seduces you in a model?

Everyone is different so its up to you to find what you like in someone! And you have to do that before you photograph the right person. The actors are precisely difficult to photograph because they are always playing the comedy. But I love everyone, I love masons, ice cream vendors, poets… Everyone!


Do you like to destabilize people?

- Find the rest of David Baileys interview in Normal °11 -

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