This exciting book combines portraits and fashion photography to show the revolution of casual coolness that David Bailey brought to both fields. Filled with classic poses of Jean Shrimpton, Penelope Tree, Catherine Deneuve, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones that you will remember, the book is strengthened by many images you have never seen before. Breaking the previous rules for portraits and fashion, Bailey takes us into a hip, exciting world that offers unlimited promise through "spontaneity of gesture."
David Bailey was the classic outsider, looking in. Born to a working class family in London's East End, no career could have been more unlikely. Being a rock musician was the most that young East Enders of that period could hope for. However, his background gave him a fresh perspective that brought originality and life to his work that we all enjoy. His career rose rapidly, being sought after by Vogue within a year of becoming a professional photographer. In fact, he was on contract to Vogue before meeting Jean Shrimpton, with whom he became so closely identified (both for their personal relationship and their work together).
Some of these innovations work better than others. For example, he loved to pose a group with each person tilting in a different plane and then to put the image on the diagonal. Those tend to work quite well. On the other hand, he also liked to cut off the tops of heads (like Alex Katz paintings), and those often make the portraits much less interesting than if you got the whole head. He loved grainy, black-and-white images. These can be a bit too grainy.
The essay by Martin Harrison is a helpful introduction to Bailey's work, and adds considerable value. I encourage you to read and study it in connection with the photographs.
The book contains scenes that Bailey shot of the East End, that heighten the contrast between his former life and his new one. You will also see his first professional work (a wedding) and his first published work (a Sunday Pictorial in 1960). Bailey rose to prominence very quickly, based both on his talent and his eye for the potential of then-unknown, 18-year-old model Jean Shrimpton, who was to become a fashion icon of the period.
Here are some of my favorite photographs in the book:
Jean Shrimpton (Town - 1963; Sunday Mirror - 1964; Queen - January 1964; Queen - February 12, 1964; Vogue - June 1965)
Catherine Deneuve (his later wife) (Brittany - 1966, Vogue - April 1, 1967)
Joy Weston (Sunday Pictorial - 1960)
Franco Zeffirelli (Vogue - 1961)
Scouts (London, 1960)
Sarah Miles (American Vogue - August 1, 1964)
Robert Shaw (Vogue - September 15, 1963)
Marianne Faithfull (September 1964)
Peter Ustinov (Vogue - December 1965)
Shirley MacLaine (Vogue - December 1965)
The Rolling Stones (September 1964)
Mick Jagger (Contact Sheet -- April 1968)
Sue Murray (Vogue - March 15, 1967 and September 1, 1967)
Raquel Welch (Goodbye Baby & Amen, June 1968)
Afer you have finished enjoying this exciting collection and insightful essay, I suggest that you ask yourself where unnecessary formalism is restraining progress in something you do. For example, some churchs still have such formal services that while many are reassured by the familiarity this provides, their hearts are not still touched by it. Having identified this stall, how can you break through to open the doors to informality that will be constructive? Asking people what they are missing from their experiences is a good place to start. Going back to my example of worship, perhaps worship is too much unlike daily life. How can we integrate the two so that we worship as we live?