England Swings to Bailey

john and paulOne of the most iconic personalities of England’s Swinging Sixties was the photographer David Bailey. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, how about the movie Blow Up? Bailey was the inspiration for Antonioni’s movie about a hip and jean shrimptonhandsome London photographer who had great success with the girls.

Inspired by Cartier Bresson and the work he saw in Life Magazine, David Bailey was only 22 years old in 1960 and on his way to becoming the hot fashion photographer. He photographed Mary Quant fashions, the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, Maryanne Faithfull, Mia Farrow, Julie Christie, Peter Sellers, Michael Caine, Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy. His style was to get inside the action, which was contrary to tradition of using the camera to be an outside observer. His work typically had high contrasts between the light and dark tones.

In 1964 he did a boxed set of photos called Box of Pin-ups , a packaging concept no one had done before, and the photos were cropped so tightly that the tops heads were often cut off, a convincing was to make the catherine deneuvephotos seem larger than they really were. It included everyone from the Beatles and Mick Jagger to Terrence Stamp and some East End gangsters.

Bailey turned his subjects into icons, which in turn made him one as well. He socialized with actors, musicians, models and royalty, and sometimes his audience was more interested in his exploits than those of his subjects. However, nothing makes me more jealous of Bailey than the fact that he was married to Catherine Deneuve. Yes, mick jaggerthat Catherine Deneuve!

Bailey hates to do pictures that look dated, so his MO has alwys been to keep it simple. He’s still taking photographs of the stars, from Oasis to Naomi Campbell, for such publications as Harper’s Bazaar, Italian Vogue, The London Times and Talk magazine.

In his own words, Bailey muses that his work ethic has not chnged in 40 years. "I take the same approach today as I did when I started. I've always hated silly pictures and gimmicks, which is all I see these days, or, to put it another way, 'the Avant Garde has gone to Kmart." And if you really look at his work, it has stood the test of time.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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