David Bailey | Background, Photography Career and Notable Work

David Bailey is an established photographer who has proved time and time again why he deserves the title of one of the most impressive photographers in history. 

Unfortunately, his academic career and first few jobs after school didn’t set him up for success. However, David proved through his innate creative ability and drive to succeed in the art world that he was born to work through a lens. 

Now, let’s dive in to discover a little more about the extraordinary life of David Bailey and learn more about his outstanding artwork.

David Bailey

Who is David Bailey?

After his family experienced bombing during WWII, Bailey’s parents moved to a part of East London known as East Ham, where Bailey grew up and subsequently discovered a love for natural history. However, Bailey admits he struggled during school due, which he suspects were due to not being diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia until a later age. As a result, he struggled with his attendance at school and chose to leave school at just 15. 

After his school career, he tried a few jobs which ultimately didn’t lead him to any huge successes. When he was 18, he began his National Service in the Royal Air Force in Singapore. During his time there, he sought a hobby to express his creativity and bought a camera. Shortly after this, he purchased another camera and decided to persuade a career in photography. 

David Bailey Photography Career 

Bailey kickstarted his photography career with his first job as a photography assistant in May 1960. Remarkably he then went on to work for British Vogue in his second position and began working as a freelancer. 

Since the 60s, Bailey has gone on to work with celebrities from around the globe, including Andy Warhol, The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Jean Shrimpton, and the Kray Twins. He has a vast collection of photography books and has headlined in significant galleries worldwide, including the Saatchi Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. 

Additionally, Bailey has also directed a large handful of TV advertorials and documentaries. 

David Bailey Photo Specialities

David Bailey’s work has not been limited to celebrity culture, and his work and artistic interests, include: 

David Bailey Fashion Photography

Bailey’s most iconic photography work is fashion photography, where he shot the style of swinging 60s and celebrity culture. Not only is his work in London and the UK widely known, but he has also spent his 6-decade long career travelling to all corners of the globe. At the peak of his career, he managed to shoot 800 pages for Vogue in just 12 months! 

View a small selection of Bailey’s collection of fashion photography on the Taschen website

David Bailey Portrait Photography 

Along with photographing people for fashion, David is interested in the human form and capturing life through the expression of those around him. 

Additionally, David has focussed on a project known on his portfolio as ‘Aging’, where he captures all angles of what it is like to grow old in the modern age. 

See the section on David Bailey portraits on his website to view the pieces. 

David Bailey Tourism and Travel Photography 

View the world through David’s eyes and escape for a moment into another part of the world with his work focussing on tourism and travel. 

View the tourism and travel photography on Bailey’s website. 


How Old is David Bailey? 

Bailey was born on 2nd January 1938. Therefore, making him 84 years young (at the time of publishing this article). He started his photography career at age 21 in 1959 and is still going strong today. 

Where Can You Find a Picture of David Bailey? 

There is a collection of David Bailey photos on the Bailey Studio Instagram, including his celebrity photography work and portraits of the man himself. We also showcase Bailey’s work on the Imitate Modern Instagram from time to time, so be sure to follow us there to stay up to date with David’s new projects. 

Does David Bailey Have An Artistic Family? 

Bailey’s father was a tailor’s cutter, and his mother a machinist. David Bailey’s wife, Catherine Deneuve, was an actress, and his two subsequent wives were both models. 

How Many David Bailey Art Books Are There?

David has been a published artist since 1964 and since then he has over 30 books under his name, including the book ‘Look Again’ published in 2020. 

What Techniques Does Bailey Use? 

Bailey has used a combination of techniques and styles over his extensive photography career. He often uses dramatic lighting and contrasting backgrounds to emphasise the subject and emotion of the photos. His work from the 60s can show a moment of history through the ‘punk’ aspect in his work and focus on the economic hardship and fashion of the era. 

What Equipment Does David Bailey Use?

Like most acclaimed artists, Bailey uses a variety of mediums and equipment in his art. However, he is partial to a 35mm Leica film camera, and his first camera was a Rolleiflex. 

As well as being a master of photography, Baileys paints skills and sculpture are something he has explored with success. 

Where to Buy David Bailey Images

Books featuring the acclaimed works of David Bailey are available from Taschen. Taschen is a leading publisher of art, anthropology and aphrodisia books based in Cologne, Germany (read more about Taschen Publishing here). 

Taschen features a collection of the David Bailey arts projects from various points throughout his career from the 1950s to the 2010s. The book ‘David Bailey’ contains 400 pages of breathtaking portraits to celebrate the incredible career of the influential photographer. There is also an option to purchase the signed copy of the book as an Art Edition with a signed print of Jean Shrimpton or the Andy Warhol print.  

For more information about David Bailey prints and his career, visit the Imitate Modern Artist Profile portal. For more insight into David’s life, read the about me on his background and experience on his website


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