David Bailey

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David Bailey
David Bailey at East End exhibition opening.jpg
Born David Royston Bailey
(1938-01-02) 2 January 1938 (age 77)
Leytonstone, London, England, UK
Nationality British
Occupation Photographer
Years active 1959–present
Spouse(s) Rosemary Bramble (1960–64)
Catherine Deneuve (1965–72)
Marie Helvin (1975–82)
Catherine Dyer (1986–present; 3 children)

David Royston Bailey, CBE (born 2 January 1938) is an English fashion and portrait photographer.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

David Bailey was born in Leytonstone, East London,[3] to Herbert Bailey, a tailor's cutter, and his wife, Sharon, a machinist. From the age of three he lived in East Ham.[4]

"In the winter", he recalled, the family "would take bread-and-jam sandwiches and go to the cinema every night because in those days it was cheaper to go to the cinema than to put on the gas fire. I'll bet I saw seven or eight movies a week."[5]

I remember our house being bombed when I was three. It was in Leytonstone – Alfred Hitchcock was born in the next street – in the East End, and we moved to East Ham. Some days you went to school and some days you didn't, and some days at school you went into the shelter.[4]

I remember watching the doodlebugs [V-1 flying bombs] in the sky. A V-2 rocket knocked out a cinema in Upton Park where I used to go. I was not happy, I thought Hitler had killed Mickey Mouse and Bambi.[6][page needed]

I remember looking through the railings, waiting for my mum to take me home from Plashet Grove school. And I remember that for once in my life I got something right: when we were asked, "Who built the Suez Canal?" I said, "The French." I got it right by accident: I thought everyone who was foreign was French. After that, it was downhill all the way.[4]

Bailey developed a love of natural history, and this led him into photography. Suffering from undiagnosed dyslexia, he experienced problems at school. He attended a private school, Clark's College in Ilford, where he says they taught him less than the more basic council school. As well as dyslexia he also has the motor skill disorder dyspraxia (developmental coordination disorder).

We were posh East End, if that's possible, but I had cardboard in my shoes and was at the social bottom of this cheap private school; some of the parents had tobacconist's shops, which was a bit posher.[citation needed]

In one school year, he claims he only attended 33 times.[4] He left school on his fifteenth birthday, to become a copy boy at the Fleet Street offices of the Yorkshire Post. He raced through a series of dead end jobs, before his call up for National Service in 1956, serving with the Royal Air Force in Singapore in 1957. The appropriation of his trumpet forced him to consider other creative outlets, and he bought a Rolleiflex camera.

He was demobbed in August 1958, and determined to pursue a career in photography, he bought a Canon rangefinder camera. Unable to obtain a place at the London College of Printing because of his school record, he became a second assistant to David Ollins, in Charlotte Mews. He earned £3 10s (£3.50) a week, and acted as studio dogsbody. He was delighted to be called to an interview with photographer John French.

Professional career[edit]

One of Bailey's images of London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray

In 1959, Bailey became a photographic assistant at the John French studio, and in May 1960, he was a photographer for John Cole's Studio Five, before being contracted as a fashion photographer for British Vogue magazine later that year.[6][page needed] He also undertook a large amount of freelance work.[7]

Along with Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy, Bailey captured and helped create the 'Swinging London' of the 1960s: a culture of fashion and celebrity chic. The three photographers socialised with actors, musicians and royalty, and found themselves elevated to celebrity status. Together, they were the first real celebrity photographers, named by Norman Parkinson "the Black Trinity".[8]

The film Blowup (1966), directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, depicts the life of a London fashion photographer (played by David Hemmings). This character was inspired by Bailey.[9] The "Swinging London" scene was aptly reflected in his Box of Pin-Ups (1964): a box of poster-prints of 1960s celebrities including Terence Stamp, The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Jean Shrimpton, PJ Proby, Cecil Beaton, Rudolf Nureyev, Andy Warhol and notorious East End gangsters, the Kray twins. The Box was an unusual and unique commercial release. It reflected the changing status of the photographer that one could sell a collection of prints in this way. (The strong objection to the presence of the Krays on the part of a fellow photographer, Lord Snowdon, was the major reason no American edition of the "Box" ever appeared and that a second British edition was not issued.) The record sale for a copy of 'Box of Pin-Ups' is reported as "north of £20,000".[10]

Bailey's ascent at Vogue was meteoric. Within months he was shooting covers and, at the height of his productivity, he shot 800 pages of Vogue editorial in one year.[11] Penelope Tree, a former girlfriend, described him as "the king lion on the Savannah: incredibly attractive, with a dangerous vibe. He was the electricity, the brightest, most powerful, most talented, most energetic force at the magazine".[11]

American Vogue '​s creative director Grace Coddington, then a model herself, said "It was the Sixties, it was a raving time, and Bailey was unbelievably good-looking. He was everything that you wanted him to be – like the Beatles but accessible – and when he went on the market everyone went in. We were all killing ourselves to be his model, although he hooked up with Jean Shrimpton pretty quickly".[11]

Of model Jean Shrimpton, Bailey said:

She was magic and the camera loved her too. In a way she was the cheapest model in the world – you only needed to shoot half a roll of film and then you had it. She had the knack of having her hand in the right place, she knew where the light was, she was just a natural.[7]

Since 1966, Bailey has also directed several television commercials and documentaries. From 1968 to 1971 he directed and produced TV documentaries titled Beaton, Warhol and Visconti. As well as fashion photography, Bailey photographed album sleeve art for musicians including The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull. One of Bailey's most famous works depicts the Rolling Stones including Brian Jones, who drowned in 1969 while under the influence of drink and drugs. He is seen standing slightly apart from the rest of the group.[7] Bailey was hired in 1970 by Island Records' Chris Blackwell to shoot publicity photos of Cat Stevens for his upcoming album Tea for the Tillerman. Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) maintains that he disliked having his photo on the cover of his albums, as had previously been the case, although he allowed Bailey's photographs to be placed on the inner sleeve of the album.[12]

Bailey in 2011

In 1972, rock musician Alice Cooper was photographed by Bailey for Vogue magazine, almost naked apart from a snake. Cooper used Bailey the following year to shoot for the group's chart topping 'Billion Dollar Babies' album. The shoot included a baby wearing shocking eye makeup and, supposedly, one billion dollars in cash requiring the shoot to be under armed guard. In 1976, Bailey published Ritz Newspaper together with David Litchfield. In 1985, Bailey was photographing stars at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium. As he recalled later: "The atmosphere on the day was great. At one point I got a tap on my shoulder and spun round. Suddenly there was a big tongue down my throat! It was Freddie Mercury."[13]

In 1992, Bailey directed the BBC drama Who Dealt? starring Juliet Stevenson, story by Ring Lardner. In 1995 he directed and wrote the South Bank Film The Lady is a Tramp featuring his wife Catherine Bailey. In 1998 he directed a documentary with Ginger Television Production, Models Close Up, commissioned by Channel 4 Television.[citation needed]

In 2012, the BBC made a film of the story of his 1962 New York photoshoot with Jean Shrimpton, entitled We'll Take Manhattan.[14]

In October 2013 Bailey took part in Art Wars at the Saatchi Gallery curated by Ben Moore. The artist was issued with a stormtrooper helmet, which he transformed into a work of art. Proceeds went to the Missing Tom Fund set up by Ben Moore to find his brother Tom who has been missing for over ten years. The work was also shown on the Regents Park platform as part of Art Below Regents Park.[citation needed]


On 16 June 2001, as part of that year's Queen's Birthday Honours, Bailey was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire "for services to Art".[15]

He was awarded The Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography in 2005.[16]


Bailey takes a keen interest in art. An exhibition of his paintings and mixed media works was held at London's Scream, opening in October 2011. It presents portraits and paintings inspired by his childhood, influences, inspiration, fears and desires.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Bailey has been married four times: in 1960 to Rosemary Bramble; in 1965 to the actress Catherine Deneuve (divorced 1972); in 1975 to American fashion model and writer Marie Helvin; and in 1986 to the model Catherine Dyer (born 20 July 1961), to whom he remains married. He is a long-time vegetarian and refrains from drinking alcohol. An art-lover with a long-held passion for the works of Picasso, he now lives near Glastonbury, Somerset. Bailey has three children.[citation needed]

On 26 January 2012, the story of his relationship with Jean Shrimpton was broadcast on BBC Four in a film, We'll Take Manhattan, with Aneurin Barnard playing the part of Bailey.[18]

He was named one of GQ's 50 best dressed British men in 2015. [19]


  • Box of Pin-Ups, 1964
  • Goodbye Baby & Amen, 1969
  • Warhol, 1974
  • Beady Minces, 1974
  • Papua New Guinea, 1975
  • Mixed Moments, 1976
  • Trouble and Strife, 1980
  • Bailey NW1, 1982
  • Black & White Memories, 1983
  • Nudes 1981–1984, 1984
  • Imagine, 1985
  • If We Shadows, 2001
  • The Lady is a Tramp, 1995
  • Rock & Roll Heroes, 1997
  • Archive One, 1999 (also titled The Birth of the Cool for USA)
  • Chasing Rainbows, 2001
  • Art of Violence, Kate Kray & David Bailey, 2003 (also titled Diamond Geezers)
  • Bailey/Rankin Down Under, 2003
  • Archive Two: Locations, 2003
  • Bailey's Democracy, 2005
  • Havana, 2006
  • NY JS DB 62, 2007
  • Pictures That Mark Can Do, 2007
  • Is That So Kid, 2008
  • David Bailey: 8 Minutes: Hirst & Bailey, 2009 With Damien Hirst
  • EYE, 2009
  • Flowers, Skulls, Contacts, 2010
  • British Heroes in Afghanistan, 2010


External video
Susie Bubble visits Bailey's Stardust on YouTube, TheArtFundUK
  • National Portrait Gallery 1971
  • One Man Retrospective Victoria & Albert Museum 1983
  • International Center of Photography (ICP) NY 1984
  • Curator "Shots of Style" Victoria & Albert Museum 1985
  • Pictures of Sudan for Band Aid at The Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA) *1985
  • Auction at Sotheby's for Live Aid Concert for Band Aid 1985
  • Bailey Now! Royal Photographic Society in Bath 1989
  • Numerous Exhibitions at Hamiltons Gallery, London. 1989 to now
  • Fahey Klein Gallery, Los Angeles 1990
  • Camerawork Photogallerie, Berlin. 1997
  • Carla Sozanni. Milan. 1997
  • A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans. 1998
  • Touring exhibition "Birth of the Cool" 1957–1969 & contemporary work
  • Barbican Art Gallery, London – 1999
  • National Museum of Film, Photography & Television, Bradford. 1999–2000
  • Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden. 2000
  • City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland 2000
  • Modern Art Museum, The Dean Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh 2001
  • Proud Gallery London Bailey /Rankin Down Under
  • Gagosian Gallery. Joint with Damien Hirst “14 Stations of the Cross” 2004
  • Gagosian Gallery. Artists by David Bailey. 2004
  • Democracy. Faggionato Fine Arts 2005
  • Havana. Faggionato Fine Arts 2006
  • Pop Art Gagosian London 2007
  • Galeria Hilario Galguera Mexico 2007
  • National Portrait Gallery – Beatles to Bowie 2009
  • Bonhams, London. Pure Sixties Pure Bailey 2010
  • Pangolin London. Sculpture + 2010
  • The Stockdale Effect, Paul Stolper Gallery, London 2010
  • David Bailey's East End. Compressor House, London, 2012.[20]
  • David Bailey's East End Faces London February/May 2013 [21]
  • Bailey's Stardust, National Portrait Gallery, London 2014[22]
  • David Bailey Stardust, PAC - Padiglione di Arte Contemporanea, Milano (Italy) 2015


  1. ^ Heaf, Jonathan (20 January 2012). "David Bailey photography interview - GQ.COM (UK)". gq-magazine.co.uk. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "BBC Four - David Bailey: Four Beats to the Bar and No Cheating". bbc.co.uk. 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  3. ^ The Houghton Mifflin Dictionary of Biography. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 15 July 2003. p. 96. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Passed/Failed: An education in the life of David Bailey, photographer", The Independent.
  5. ^ Stuart, Jeffries. "Out of his skulls". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ a b Levy, Shawn. Ready, Steady, Go!: The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London. New York: Broadway. ISBN 978-0-7679-0588-6. 
  7. ^ a b c "David Bailey: Godfather of Cool", BBC.
  8. ^ Pittman, Joanna (20 August 2009). "David Bailey:still snapping away at 71". The Times (London). Retrieved 20 August 2009. 
  9. ^ PDN Legends Online: David Bailey; retrieved November 15, 2013.
  10. ^ Petkanas, Christopher (24 January 2011). "Photographer Who Broke Molds". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c Ellison, Jo. "Rogue's Gallery". British Vogue. 
  12. ^ Islam, Yusuf; Davies (Alun). "A conversation with Yusuf Islam & Alun Davies". Interview (upon the anniversary of Island Records) of Stevens and Davies. England: YouTube. Retrieved 4 February 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ Wilkinson, Carl (17 October 2004). "Live aid in their own words". The Observer (London). Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  14. ^ Lampert, Nicole (21 January 2012). "We'll Take Manhattan: Jean Shrimpton and David Bailey's love affair started the Swinging Sixties | Mail Online". London: dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56237. pp. 7–8. 16 June 2001. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
  16. ^ Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Award
  17. ^ http://www.artlyst.com/events/david-bailey-hitler-killed-the-duck-scream "David Bailey 'Hitler killed the Duck' – Scream", ArtLyst. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  18. ^ "We'll Take Manhattan". BBC News. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "50 Best Dressed Men in Britain 2015". GQ. 5 January 2015. 
  20. ^ Exhibition notice, Create London. Accessed 28 July 2012.
  21. ^ "East End Faces, William Morris Gallery". The Daily Telegraph (London). 21 February 2013. 
  22. ^ Brown, Mark (5 September 2013). "Unseen pictures to feature in David Bailey show at National Portrait Gallery". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 

External links[edit]