Photographer and filmmaker, David Bailey, is one of the most famous British photographers of the age – perhaps most known best as the man who captured the ‘Swinging Sixties’ in iconic black and white photos.
He grew up in London’s East End, living through the Blitz in World War I. After serving in the Royal Air Force in his 20s, he discovered a love of photography and took a job as an assistant to society photographers David Ollins, John French and then John Cole before being contracted as a fashion photographer for British Vogue.
Here, he found his metier shooting cover girls (such as Jean Shrimpton) and became one of the most influential talents at the magazine. He had an eye for glamour and style, and a knack for getting his subjects on side using his personal charm and charisma. His famous subjects were often ‘best mates’ and part of his dazzling London social circuit. Top model of the day, Jean Shrimpton was his girlfriend and Mick Jagger was just his “girlfriend’s sister’s fella” before he was a famous rock star.
As well as a passion for people and what makes them tick, Bailey had an instinctive understanding of light and the photographic craft. He knows how to place his subject graphically, bringing out their innate drama and attraction, that exudes from his prints.
In 2014, The National Portrait Gallery held his retrospective exhibition Stardust which showcased his work over the ages, with portraits of everyone from Kate Moss to Francis Bacon – he also has numerous works in London’s National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection and is world renowned for his craft.