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Tuesday, 05 April 2011


It's odd how interviewees come across. I distinctly recall reading another interview of David Bailey in which his main point was that photography was a way to meet and sleep with girls (annoyingly, I cannot find it now through Google, so my point remains unproven). Anyway, he marvelled in that interview that he was taken seriously in the art world, declaring it to "up your ar*e nonsense".

I do like David Bailey, and whether or not he is an artist or a journeyman with a God-given talent, he does make ravishingly beautiful women look like angels.

I've had the good fortune of seeing The Ecstasy of St. Teresa in person, and that photograph does not do it justice. After the initial amazement, I spent a while taking photos of the piece—I distinctly remember it was very dark (f/1.4, ISO 1600 type dark) and you weren't allowed strobes. I was annoyed at the time, but seeing the photo above I bow down to the knowledge of the clergy in this case.

As for D. Baily, you gotta love the bloke :-)

Best quote from the Wikipedia article about David Bailey:

"Bailey contracted psittacosis when he shared his house in Primrose Hill, north London, with girlfriend Penelope Tree, a UFO detecting machine left by Rolling Stone Brian Jones, and around 60 parrots."

My life is sooooo mundane.....

Now, that's what I call a good interview.

This is a great quote: "If I go to Delhi, I get off the plane and I start photographing because five days later it all starts to look normal." Maybe because I think in a similar way, though. :)

Living in Avila, Spain (where St. Teresa was born)I can perfectly understand that some special fellows can get a direct link wtih the Supreme Highness...
By the way, I think it is possible to reach a ecstasy meeting and sleeping with young girls ...

Bailey is incredibly British and it seems that it is what he doesn't say that is as revealing as his blokish attitude. In a way, what he says about the UK perception and reception of photography - which is pretty poor - is partly reinforced by his interviews: the genuine qualities and artfulness of photography being shrugged off (too poncy, perhaps ?). If Bailey was like Avedon British photography would be stronger, but he's a Brit so we're doomed.

Mark Walker,
I wish you'd expand on that...not being British, I'm really not sure what you're "on about."


It's a great interview. David Bailey remains as non-conformist and prickly even at his senior age.
My favorite: "You can't do it unless you can do it".

I'm sorry to be so colloquial in my terminology, Mike, I should have thought about it more. I'm not feeling eloquent enough to describe 'British blokishness', except that I wasn't denegrating Bailey, because his attitude is refreshingly consistent. However, he doesn't, or won't, fit into a publicly revered photographic elite that is evident in the US and on the Continent, partly because DB isn't comfortable with his work as art, partly because 'Brits' don't (generally) revere great photography because they are uncomfortable with its position in the arts (after 170 years !) and hence fail to truly appreciate and promote talent here. Most really good photographers seem to be more highly regarded elsewhere. Bailey is an institution here, however, like Michael Caine and tea and crumpets: Bailey loves crumpet.
Briefly, here's a Bailey encounter. He has a house in Devon (UK) and one day he was lurking outside the photographic shop and studio where I used to work with my friend Phil, who's shop it was, in Ashburton. He comes in and asks if he can have a camera to take some pictures of his 'companion' because he hadn't anything with him. 'Yeah, what sort', says Phil. 'Oh, anything', says Bailey, so Phil hands him a Praktica for a giggle and Bailey says, 'yeah fine, that'll do,' and he wanders out. I've never looked down my nose at any camera since.

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