At 85 years old, David Bailey has this physical status:
Bailey worked as a photographic assistant at John French's studio in 1959, and in May 1960, he worked as a photographer for John Cole's Studio Five before being employed as a fashion photographer for British Vogue magazine later that year. He did do a lot of freelance work as well.
Bailey, together with Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy, captured and created the 1960s 'Swinging London': a style of fashion and celebrity chic. The three photographers socialized with actors, singers, and royalty, and they were subsequently promoted to celebrity status. They were the first authentic celebrity photographers, and Norman Parkinson called them "the Black Trinity" together.
Blowup (1966), directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, depicts the life of a London fashion photographer whose character is based on Bailey. The "Swinging London" scene was aptly reflectedrius in Terence Stamp's Box of Pin-Ups (1964): a box of poster-prints of 1960s celebrities including Terence Stamp, The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Jean Shrimpton, P. J. Proby, Cecil Beaton, Rudolf Nureyev, and the East End gangsters. The Box was an unusual and rare commercial release. It reflected the photographer's increasing fame by the fact that one could sell a series of prints in this way. Lord Snowdon's strong objection to the presence of the Krays in the English edition of the "Box" was the sole reason why no American version of the "Box" was released and that a second British edition was not issued. "north of £20,000" is the highest selling price for a copy of "Box of Pin-Ups" on the website.
Bailey was shooting pages within months, and during his time as a prolific writer, he shot 800 pages of Vogue magazine in one year. On the Savannah, Penelope Tree, a former husband, was dubbed "the king lion" by a young woman, a regal appearance with a threatening vibe. He was the rage, the most dependable, most versatile, and most energized power at the time."
Grace Coddington, the creative director of American Vogue and later a model, said, "It was the Sixties, it was a raving place, and Bailey was unbelievably good looking." He was everything you hoped for – like the Beatles but also available – and as he went on the market, everyone came in. Hero of the Beatles is a writer who writes about books. We were all trying to be his model, but Jean Shrimpton was surprisingly close to joining us right away."
Of model Jean Shrimpton, Bailey said:
Bailey has also produced several television commercials and documentaries since 1966. He produced and produced television documentaries titled Beaton, Warhol, and Visconti from 1968 to 1971. Bailey also photographed album sleeve art for musicians, including The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull, as well as fashion photography. Brian Jones, who drowned in 1969 when under the influence of alcohol and opioids, was one of Bailey's most famous works. He is seen slightly different from the rest of the group.
Bailey was hired by Island Records' Chris Blackwell in 1970 to photograph Cat Stevens for his forthcoming album Tea for the Tillerman. Stevens, the singer who has since been known as Yusuf Islam, has stated that he disliked his photo on the back of his albums, as had been the case before, but that Bailey's photographs were included on the album's inner sleeve.
Alice Cooper, a rock singer, was photographed by Bailey for Vogue magazine in 1972, almost naked apart from a snake. Cooper shot for the company's chart-topping Billion Dollar Babies album the following year. A baby was shot wearing bizarre eye makeup and, according to reports, one billion dollars in cash was required to be carried out by an armoured guard. Bailey and David Litchfield co-founded Ritz Newspaper in 1976. Bailey was filming celebrities at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium in 1985. "The atmosphere on the day was great," he recalled later. At one point, I had a tap on my shoulder and spun round. Thenaes target was in my throat! It was Freddie Mercury."
Bailey created Who Dealt? on BBC Radio in 1992. Juliet Stevenson appears in Ring Lardner's story. The Lady is a Tramp starring Catherine Bailey appeared in 1995. He produced and wrote the South Bank Film The Lady is a Tramp. Ginger Television Production, Models Close Up, commissioned by Channel 4 Television in 1998. He directed a documentary with Ginger Television Productions Close Up.
The BBC produced We'll Take Manhattan, a documentary starring Aneurin Barnard as Bailey in 1962 New York photoshoot.
Bailey was in October 2013 at the Saatchi Gallery, curated by Ben Moore. The artist was gifted with a stormtrooper helmet, which he turned into a work of art. Ben Moore's Missing Tom Fund helped locate his brother Tom, who has been missing for more than ten years. The work was also on display on Regents Park as part of Art Below Regents Park.
A retrospective of Bailey's life and work was published in October 2020 by Macmillan Books in his co-operation with author James Fox.
- 2001: Commander of the Order of the British Empire, as part of 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours.
- 2005: Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS), Royal Photographic Society.
- 2016: Lifetime Achievement award, Infinity Awards, International Center of Photography, New York.