David Bailey

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

It’s impossible to talk about Photographers without mentioning David Royston Bailey. He was born January 2, 1938. He is a portrait and English fashion photographer.

David Bailey was born in Leytonstone at Whipps Cross University Hospital to Herbert Bailey, a tailor’s cutter, and Gladys Bailey, a machinist. He lived in East Ham since he was three years old.

Fashion and portrait photographer David Bailey sits in front of two of his 50 unseen oil paintings (Victoria Jones/PA)

Bailey discovered a passion for natural history and photography. He was diagnosed with undiagnosed dyslexia and had problems in school. Clark’s College, Ilford was his private school. He claims they taught him less than the basic council school. He also has dyslexia and the motor skill disorder dyspraxia.

He claims that he attended only 33 school days in a single school year. On his fifteenth birthday, he left school to become a copyboy at the Fleet Street offices for the Yorkshire Post. After a string of low-paying jobs, he was called up to National Service in 1956. He served with the Royal Air Force at Singapore in 1957. He was forced to look for other creative outlets after his trumpet was stolen. In 1957, he purchased a Rolleiflex camera.

Diana Vreeland & Alexander Leibermann 1977 © David Bailey

In August 1958 David was demobbed. Determined to make a career out of photography, he purchased a Canon rangefinder camera. Because of his poor school record, he was unable to get a spot at the London College of Printing. He became a second assistant to David Ollins in Charlotte Mews. He was a studio dogbody and earned PS3 10s (PS3.50). He was thrilled to be invited to interview John French, a photographer.

Career in the professional sector

Bailey’s image of London gangsters Ronnie Kray and Reggie Kray. Bailey was hired as a photographic assistant for John French’s studio in 1959. In May 1960, Bailey was working as a photographer for John Cole’s Studio Five. He then became a British Vogue fashion photographer later that year. A lot of his freelance work was also done by Bailey.

Bailey, Terence Donovan, and Brian Duffy helped to create the 1960s ‘Swinging London’ culture: fashion and celebrity chic. They became celebrities after they began to socialize with musicians, actors, and royalty. Norman Parkinson called them ‘The Black Trinity‘, and they became the first celebrity photographers.

Mick Jagger 1964 © David Bailey

Blowup (1966), a film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni depicts the life and times of a London fashion photographer. It is played by David Hemmings who was inspired by Bailey. His Box of Pin-Ups (1964), a collection of posters featuring 1960s celebrities such as Terence Stamp, Mick Jagger and Jean Shrimpton, was a fitting reflection of the ‘Swinging London‘ scene. It included posters of famous 1960s figures like Terence Stamp, Rudolf Nureyev, Rudolf Nureyev, Cecil Beaton, Rudolf Nureyev, Rudolf Nureyev, and East End gangsters the Kray twins. The Box was a unique commercial release. This was a reflection of the changing status of the photographer, that one could sell a series of prints this way. Lord Snowdon, a fellow photographer, strongly objected to the inclusion of the Krays in the American edition of “Box”. A second British edition was also not released. According to reports, the record sales for a copy of ‘Box of Pin-Ups’ were ‘north of PSD20,000.’

Bailey shot covers for Vogue in just a few months. At the peak of his productivity, Bailey managed to shoot 800 pages of Vogue editorial within a year. Penelope Tree, his ex-girlfriend, described him as “the King Lion on the Savannah”: extremely attractive with a dangerous vibe. He was the power, the brightest and most powerful, most talented, and most energetic person at the magazine.

Grace Coddington, American Vogue’s creative directors, was then a model and said that Bailey was an unbelieveably beautiful man. He was everything you could want him to be, just like the Beatles but more accessible. Everyone went in when he went on sale. Although he quickly bonded with Jean Shrimpton, we were all a bit too greedy to be his model.

Jean Shrimpton 1965 © David Bailey

Bailey said of Jean Shrimpton, a model: “She was magic and she loved the camera too. She was also the most affordable model in the world. You only had to take half of a roll of film, and you were done. She was a natural, and she had the ability to know where the light was.

Bailey has directed many television documentaries and commercials since 1966. From 1968 to 1971, he produced and directed TV documentaries entitled Beaton, Warhol, and Visconti. Bailey also photographed album sleeves for many musicians, including The Rolling Stones’ Marianne Faithfull. Bailey is most well-known for his famous work depicting the Rolling Stones, including Brian Jones who died in 1969 after being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He stands slightly apart from the rest.

Chris Blackwell, Island Records’ photographer, hired Bailey in 1970 to take publicity photos of Cat Stevens for the upcoming album Tea for the Tillerman. Stevens, now Yusuf Islam, claims that he didn’t like having his photograph on the cover of his albums. However, he did allow Bailey to have his photographs on the inner sleeves of the album.

Bailey photographed Alice Cooper, a rock singer, for Vogue magazine in 1972. She was almost naked, with the exception of a snake. The group’s hit album, ‘Billion Dollar Babies,’ was shot by Cooper again in 1972. The shoot featured a baby wearing shocking eye makeup, and allegedly one billion dollars worth of cash. It required the shooters to be under an armed guard. Bailey and David Litchfield published Ritz Newspaper in 1976. Bailey was taking pictures of stars at the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium in 1985. He later recalled that the atmosphere was fantastic. “One point, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Then, I spun around. I felt a huge tongue coming down my throat. It was Freddie Mercury!

Bailey was the director of Who Dealt?, a BBC drama that aired in 1992. Story by Ring Lardner. Juliet Stevenson stars. He directed and wrote The Lady is a Tramp, a South Bank Film about his wife Catherine Bailey. He directed Models Close Up with Ginger Television Production in 1998, which was commissioned by Channel 4 Television.

The BBC produced a 2012 film about Bailey’s 1962 New York photoshoot. It was called We’ll Take Manhattan and starred Aneurin Barnard.

Bailey participated in Art Wars at Saatchi Gallery, curated by Ben Moore, in October 2013. The artist received a stormtrooper helmet that he turned into art. The proceeds went to Ben Moore’s Missing Tom Fund to help find Tom, his brother who has been missing since more than ten years. As part of Art Below Regents Park, the work was also displayed on Regents Park’s platform.

Macmillan Books published Bailey’s Memoir, Look Again in October 2020. This was a review of his life and work.


Bailey started working with Jaeger fashion brand in the 1950s, when Jean Muir was appointed as a designer. Bailey was officially appointed by Vogue in 1962 after he had worked alongside Norman Parkinson and other fashion photographers.

Jean Shrimpton was Jean Shrimpton’s first shoot in New York City. She wore a variety of Jaeger, Susan Small clothing including a camel suit with green blouse, and a suede jacket with kitten heels. The shoot was called ‘Young Idea Goes West’.

Bailey, after 53 years, returned to Jaeger for their AW15 campaign. James Penfold was a menswear model and wore tailored tweed jackets and a camel coat. The shoot also featured Elisa Sednaoui, model, filmmaker, and philanthropist, as well as Martin Gardner, GQ’s most stylish man 2003.

Naomi Campbell as Josephina Baker 1989 © David Bailey

In popular culture

Bailey was robbed of some equipment in the 1970s and replaced it with Olympus’ new OM system equipment. It was significantly smaller and lighter than the equipment from contemporary rivals. The Olympus OM-1 35 mm single lens reflex camera was then promoted by Bailey. The Olympus Trip camera was then promoted by him in several TV commercials.

Personal life
Bailey was married four times. He was married to Rosemary Bramble in 1960, to Catherine Deneuve in 1965 (divorced in 1972), to Marie Helvin in 1975, to American model and writer Marie Helvin in 1975 and to Catherine Dyer in 1986. He is still married to Catherine Dyer. He is a vegetarian who has abstained from alcohol for many years. His company address is in London. He is an art-lover and has a long-held passion to Picasso’s works. His wife, Catherine Caliope Bailey is listed as Director. They are also the photographer, Fenton Fox Bailey. The family has a home in Dartmoor near Plymouth. Sascha Taday Bailey is his youngest son, born June 1994. He is an art curator.

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images.

Author: Christopher G

I'm a professional documentary style photographer, and digital image retoucher!

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