Iconic photographer David Bailey has shot Kate Moss, Twiggy and Jerry Hall, but his latest exhibition focuses on ordinary people living in East London. He told Grazia Daily why he wants to photograph Kate Middleton, why he shot Katie Price for American Vogue and why he’s quit fashion photography.
Do you prefer shooting celebrities or ordinary people?
That’s a myth – I don’t really do celebrities, I do talented people. They don’t become celebrities because they’re celebrities; they become celebrities because they’re talented.
I shot Katie Price for American Vogue. Anna Wintour’s office rang up and said "can you make Katie Price look like a lady?" and I said "tell me who Katie Price is and I can answer that question". The boys in the studio were all keen, so we did Katie Price – that’s the most 'celebrity' I’ve ever got.
Would you photograph Kate Middleton?
Ooo yeah! I don’t think they’d ask me, I’m a bit rough! I think she’s gorgeous. She a beauty - a real one not a hyped one.
You said before that celebrities are people with talent, do you see the royal family as that kind of celebrity?
I like the Queen, I think she does a lot of hard work, but somewhere in the back of mind I think why should these people be treated that way just because of where they were born? I was born in East London and it’s turned out very well for me.
Is there a theme running through the exhibition other than the East End?
No. The underlying theme is me, this is the way I saw things, if it’s right or wrong it doesn’t matter, it’s just one person’s views.
You have to be true to yourself, you have to know your own views, that’s why I don’t do fashion anymore. I haven’t done fashion since the 80’s – occasionally I do an outrageous shoot for Terry Jones at ID but that’s it.
I did so much fashion when I was a kid. In 1971 I did over 800 pages for Conde Nast. You get a bit sick of looking at frocks after a while. It’s the same old story: hysterical fashion editors! That job does tend to attract neurotic women who are crazy about some little seam.
Is what you’re doing now more interesting than fashion photography?
There’s great fashion photographers like Helmut Newton, what they do is as good as what anybody does, it just happens to be fashion, but you know you have to be as good at Helmut Newten and not be told by some art director what to do – can you imagine telling Helmut what to do?
How did you decide to curate the exhibition?
I worked out when the three times I was most active as a photographer were. I knew it was when they were tearing down Charing town in early 80’s. I also remember doing lots of stuff in the early and late 60’s and then again now. There's 50 photographs in the exhibition, but I'm producing 300 in three books as well.
David Bailey’s East End will run from July 6 – August 5 at Compressor House in East London. It's part of CREATE's 2012 summer programme and tickets are available from createlondon.org
By Kate Lloyd