David Bailey is perhaps one of the worlds most famous living photographers. His work on portraits and fashion are hugely famous and revered within the community. He has taken pictures of some of the biggest names in the celebrity and fashion world.
He was born on the second of January 1938, in the east end of London. It was during the height of the second world war and particularly the blitz, and these experiences shaped him as he revealed later in life.
He had learning difficulties and really struggled at school. Back then nobody recognised his obvious dyslexia, developing a more creative mind. He developed a love for natural history that started leading him down the path towards photography. He is said to have only attended school thirty three times one year, and left once he was 15 to pursue his other interests. He became a copy boy on fleet street, and had several other jobs that lead to nothing.
He was called to serve his national service in 1956 and joined the Royal Air force in Singapore. Needing a way to channel his creativity he purchased a rolleiflex camera. By 1958 his passion was ignited and went after it with both hands. He bought a Canon rangefinder and began to work his way up within the business starting off at the very bottom. He struggled to attend college due to his poor academic record, so it was Baileys only option.
In 1959 he became an assistant at the John French Studio, before becoming a primary photographer in his own right. His big break came when fashion magazine Vogue contracted him to work with them. Bailey thrived during the swinging 60’s in his home of London, and he photographed some of the biggest names of the time such as Mick Jagger, The infamous Kray Twins, The Beatles and many many more.
As his meteoric rise gathered pace, he shot to the top of vogue. Soon shooting cover photos and in one year contributing over 80 pages to the editorial. Models worshipped him for his talent, and his good looks, becoming the biggest name at the magazine. He had many interesting and infamous pieces of work with rock star Alice Cooper, especially the controversial “Billion Dollars Babies” album cover.
Fame, infamy and endless talent all merge together to crate the perfect recipe for the modern day photographic legend. David Bailey was a force of nature, and his word still carries the utmost weight, and must be paid attention to even today.