If she says so.
Those of you who are readers will especially appreciate this nice little feature from The Guardian, which matches interviews with centenarians by Sally Williams and portraits by David Bailey. Despite being the model for the photographer in Antonioni's Blowup, David Bailey has never been as famous here as he deserves to be. Here, the portraits and interviews, both nice enough alone, amplify each other. Bailey himself is still 24 years short of 100.
They've also go a feature of his "best" portraits, too. (We don't do enough on portraits around here.)
(Thanks to JK)
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Roy: "In the early '80s (maybe '82) I was working for some friends running a professional video sales and hire business in central London. We had a demonstration studio and edit suite attached to a domestic TV/video sales centre so we got quite a bit of walk-in business as well as spinoff from the numerous broadcast and industrial video operations in the area. One day a scruffy guy in a leather jacket walked in and started asking me about video production. He showed no sign of either having any previous experience—or any money for that matter. We spent a couple of hours playing around with equipment. About a week later he came in again and we resumed the 'lesson.'
"At one point I showed him a comparison between the various domestic cameras where some were shoulder-mounted and others pistol-gripped (a distinction that remains to this day, incredibly). I pointed out that the latter format was inherently unstable but could be stabilised to some degree by dropping a chain from the tripod socket and placing a foot on it, bracing the camera with tension. I mentioned that this was an 'old press photographers' trick,' to which he replied 'yes, I know that one.' My response, inevitably, was 'are you an old press photographer?' To which he responded, 'sort of....' I continued showing him the principles of editing systems which, in the analogue days, were a complex jungle of VTRs, TBCs, waveform monitors and wiring looms. Although I could tell that this guy was not wasting my time, I couldn't really figure out what his intentions were; he hadn't mentioned what sort of stuff he was interested in shooting—which was a first. I figured that it might well be porn.
"A week passed and he appeared for a third time, but on this occasion he wasn't alone. I recognised his beautiful girlfriend imediately: Marie Helvin. At which point of course the penny dropped. David Bailey. I managed to conceal my recognition (or I think I did) and continued with the lesson, distracted somewhat by the new student. Finally we were reaching the point where I figured I had a big sale to close so I said, 'well, sir, you've kicked all the tyres, do you intend to buy the car?' To which he replied something along the lines of 'I appreciate your help, but I can probably get all the equipment free from Sony....' Ah...I seemed to recall that at that time Bailey was involved in a Sony advertising campaign. End of sales pitch, shake hands, 'nice to meet you,' and pitch over. Exit.
"Jump forward to 2013. I'm sitting outside The Camera Cafe near the British Museum, having coffee with a friend when I see three people coming toward me, one of whom I immediately recognise as an older, still equally scruffy Bailey. Round his neck he has a Panasonic Micro 4/3 camera with the Panny 20mm lens mounted. I have the same lens on the Olympus E-M5 I'm carrying. I couldn't resist hailing him and pointing out that whilst it was inevitable that I recognised him, it was less likely that he would have recognised me, not least because it was about 30 years since we last met. He joined us for coffee with the two young guys who I took to be his assistants and I recounted the story above to him, which everyone present found very amusing.
"He's an engaging guy with absolutely no bullshit about him. Indeed at some point I got the distinct impression that he was concerned to let me know that he was still working hard (he mentioned a trip to Afghanistan to shoot stuff for a disabled servicemen's charity). We compared cameras and I was astonished how enthusiastic he was about the little Panasonic which he was using to grab rapid street shots. I told him that this lens didn't focus as fast on my camera so he tried it and snapped a shot of me with it. I also got one of his companions to take a shot of the two of us. We continued talking for half an hour or so until I decided that I wouldn't protract the conversation to the point where he wearied of it—although he showed no sign of doing so despite a couple of my impertinent observations about his marital history.
"We shook hands and promised to meet again in about 30 years. Within about ten minutes of leaving I was struck by what the French refer to as 'l'esprit d'escalier.'* I should have asked him to return the favour I'd done him decades ago by asking for either a portrait lesson, or else, even better, a formal portrait of myself by his hand (I'm not that interested in doing portrait photography.) But at least I had a snap of myself by Bailey in my own camera. Of course when I examined it it wasn't even roughly framed correctly—and it was grossly out of focus.
"If you read this, Bailey, how about it?"
[*"Staircase wit," a French term used in English for the predicament of thinking of the perfect retort too late. (Wikipedia) —Ed.]
Mike replies: Lovely comment. Made my day, and my day needs making.