Fine Art Photography Series
David Bailey

Portrait Photographer of Celebrities, Fashion Photographs.

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David Bailey, one of the top fashion photographers of the 20th century.

David Bailey (b.1938)


David Bailey's Photography
Selected Exhibitions
Great Portrait and Fashion Photographers

For more about the early inventions upon which Bailey's camera art is founded, see: History of Photography (c.1800-1900).

For an explanation of
photographic and camera
terms, see:

Art Photography Glossary.

For the finest len-based
artists and inventors, see:
Photographers: 19th-Century.

David Bailey's Photography

Among the greatest photographers of the 'swinging sixties', David Bailey is noted for both his fashion photography and portrait and fashion photography. His thought-provoking portrait art featured 60s pop singers, actors, criminals, artists and models - notably his muse Jean Shrimpton, while his commercial fine art photography appeared in all the major newspapers and glossy magazines, in particular Vogue, for whom he shot 800 pages of images in a single 12-month period. He also shot pictures for album covers for musicians such as The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull. Bailey soon became as famous as the celebrities he photographed and he was seen as an icon of British contemporary art of the 60s and 70s. In 1965 he married the French film-star Catherine Deneuve and the following year inspired the role of the photographer in Antonioni's cult film Blow-up (1966). In 1976, together with David Litchfield, he launched the fashion and photography magazine Ritz. Young, dynamic, talented and incredibly good-looking, Bailey - along with photographers Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy (the trio were dubbed the "Black Trinity" by Norman Parkinson 1913-90) - transformed British celebrity and fashion photography from understated chic to something much more resonant, rebellious and cool. His reputation as one of the best portrait artists was secured by his pictures of the Kray Twins, Rudolf Nureyev, Terence Stamp, Jack Nicholson, Alice Cooper, Kate Moss and of course Jean Shrimpton. Although he continued as a freelance photographer for publications like Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and The Times throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, he also directed TV commercials and produced a number of documentary films on individuals like the portrait photographer Cecil Beaton, as well as Luciano Visconti and Andy Warhol. For other major fashion photographers, please see: Irving Penn (1917-2009), Helmut Newton (1920-2004) and Richard Avedon (1923-2004)

For a brief guide to the aesthetics and artistic nature of lens-based art, please see: Is Photography Art?


The model Jean Shrimpton photographed by David Bailey (1966)


Born in Leytonstone, David Royston Bailey came from a working-class East London background. An undiagnosed dyslexic he left school on his fifteenth birthday, after which he held a series of menial jobs, before doing his National Service with the Royal Air Force in Malaysia (1957–58). In 1959 he decided to pursue a nascent interest in photography and so became an assistant at the John French Photographic Studio, where he began practicing fashion photography. In 1960 Bailey moved to John Cole's Studio Five before later joining Vogue magazine, for whom he worked for about 15 years. By the end of 1960 he was also doing a considerable amount of freelance work for other magazines and newspapers. Bailey's rise at Vogue was meteoric. Within a matter of months he was shooting front covers and rapidly became the most dynamic and creative photographer in the house.

Over the next decade Bailey photographed almost every 60s celebrity in the world of music, film and pop culture, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Twiggy, Jane Birkin, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) the leader of Pop art, the surrealist Salvador Dali, and Francis Bacon (1909-1992) the enfant terrible of Contemporary British Painting, to name but a few. During the 70s and later even some members of the British establishment began to sit for him, culminating in the 2014 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on her 88th birthday.

Bailey's pioneering contribution to postmodernist art was to create a new, more relevant style of camera art, that was characterized by stark backdrops as well as bold, often dramatic lighting effects, creating a sharp and very direct type of portrait and fashion photography. This was quite different from the typical 1950s style that was more diffuse, more harmonious and less powerful. Bailey's photographs had a major effect on British culture, whose rapid development during the 60s made the 50s seem like the Stone Age.

The 60s were Bailey's golden years. Thereafter, although he continued to produce cutting-edge images, and extended his reach into film-making and video art, his impact as a creative force gradually lessened. As his most recent exhibition - "Stardust" (2014) - shows, his photographic career took him around the world to Cuba, North America, East Africa, Papua New Guinea, Australia, India, Afghanistan and many other places. In 2001, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) "for services to Art". In 2005 he was awarded The Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship for his contribution to the art of photography.

His legacy in terms of published books of photographs, includes: Box of Pin-ups (1964); Goodbye Baby & Amen: A Sarabande for the Sixties (1969); Another Image: Papua New Guinea (1975); David Bailey's Trouble and Strife (1980); David Bailey, London NWI: Urban Landscapes (1982); Imagine (1985), David Bailey's Rock and Roll Heroes (1997); David Bailey: Chasing Rainbows (2001); Art of Violence, Kate Kray & David Bailey (2003); Archive Two: Locations (2003); Havana (2006); NY JS DB 62 (2007); 8 Minutes: Hirst & Bailey (2009); and British Heroes in Afghanistan (2010).

Selected Exhibitions

Photographs by David Bailey have appeared in some of the best galleries of contemporary art in Europe and America. A mong his best known exhibitions are the following:

1971 London (National Portrait Gallery)
1983 London (Victoria & Albert Museum)
1984 New York (International Center of Photography)
1985 London (Curated "Shots of Style" at the Victoria & Albert Museum)
1989 Bath (Royal Photographic Society)
1989 London (Hamiltons Gallery from 1989 onwards)
1990 Los Angeles (Fahey Klein Gallery)
1997 Berlin (Camerawork Photogallerie)
1997 Milan (Carla Sozanni)
1998 New Orleans (Gallery for Fine Photography)
1999 London (Barbican Art Gallery)
1999 Bradford (National Museum of Film, Photography & Television)
2000 Stockholm (Moderna Museet)
2000 Helsinki (City Art Museum)
2001 Edinburgh (Modern Art Museum)
2004 London (Gagosian Gallery)
2005 Havana (Faggionato Fine Arts)
2007 Mexico City (Galeria Hilario Galguera)
2009 London (National Portrait Gallery)
2014 London (National Portrait Gallery)

Great Portrait Photographers

For other renowned len-based artists best-known for their portraits, please see the following articles.

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79)
Man Ray (1890-1976)
Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002)
Hans Namuth (1915-90)
Richard Avedon (1923-2004)
Annie Leibovitz (b.1949)
Steve McCurry (born 1950)
Cindy Sherman (b.1954)

• For more photos of celebrities, see: Homepage.

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