David Royston Bailey CBE (born 2 January 1938) is an English photographer.
In 1959 he 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.[page needed] He also undertook a large amount of freelance work.
Along with Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy, he captured and helped create the 'Swinging London' of the 1960s: a culture of high 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 as "the Black Trinity".
The film Blowup (1966), directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, concerns the work and sexual habits of a London fashion photographer played by David Hemmings and is largely based on Bailey.
The "Swinging London" scene was aptly reflected in his Box of Pin-Ups (1964): a box of poster-prints of 1960s celebrities and socialites 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, and 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 fellow photographer Lord Snowdon was the major reason no American edition of the "Box" ever appeared, nor a British second edition issued.) The record sale for a copy of 'Box of Pin-Ups' is reported as "north of £20,000".
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. 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".
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".
Of supermodel 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.
Since 1966, Bailey has also directed several television commercials and documentaries. From 1968 to 1971 he directed and produced the TV documentaries entitled "Beaton", "Warhol" and "Visconti".
As well as fashion photography, Bailey has been responsible for record album sleeve art for performers including The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull. One of Bailey's most famous works depicts the Rolling Stones. It features 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.
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 gave consent to allow Bailey's photographs to be placed on the inner sleeve of the album.
In 1972 rock star Alice Cooper was photographed by Bailey for Vogue magazine, almost naked covered with a snake. Cooper used Bailey the following year to shoot for the groups chart topping 'Billion Dollar Babies' album, with one billion dollars and a baby wearing mascara, being shot under armed guard.
In 1976, Bailey published Ritz Newspaper together with David Litchfield.
In 1992 Bailey directed the BBC Drama "Who Dealt?" starring Juliet Stevenson, story by Ring Lander Snr. 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.
Bailey was awarded the CBE in 2001.
In 2005, he was involved in a feature titled "British Rule" for GQ, charting the British influence on rock n' roll, photographing several artists including Paul Weller, Jarvis Cocker, Razorlight, Brian Eno, M.I.A., Ian Brown, The Futureheads, Belle & Sebastian, Damon Albarn, Dizzee Rascal, Kaiser Chiefs, Robyn Hitchcock, Super Furry Animals, and Colin Blunstone for the spread.
In 2010, he visited Afghanistan to photograph British troops raising money for the charity Help For Heroes.
In 2011 Jerome de Missolz released a documentary called 'David Bailey: Four Beats to the Bar and No Cheating".
He maintains that his style of photography remains the same:
I've always tried to do pictures that don't date. I always go for simplicity.