English photographer David Bailey was born January 1938. He became a British Vogue Magazine fashion photographer in the 1960s and is particularly famous for his photographs of celebrities, with their bold composition and use of frames.
I first saw a postcard of one of his in the gift shop of The National Portrait Gallery in London – a photograph of Mick Jagger in a hooded parker with the fur of his hood framing his face. It was a powerful image which caught my eye because of its stark composition and bold lighting.
After researching Bailey further I found that what appealed to me most about his work was the composition of his images and his interesting use the frame’s Bailey utilises a variety of poses; from a simple face-on pose to more complex group shots to create dynamic images. I think the high fashion lighting he employs a glossy look to each picture, creating an illusion of perfection when reproduced in magazines. He often uses simple white backgrounds in his work making the viewer focus on the main subject. I feel that Bailey’s use of black and white is particularly effective, creating a chic, classic feel to his photographs, because his work has little/no colour in it, other elements such as contrast, light and composition become more important, creating a striking image that is simple but bold.
Bailey’s fashion-style portraiture often includes celebrities. One of my favorite images is a portrait of Michael Cain. It is a simple composition in which the subject is central to the image, creating a focal point. This use of composition and framing creates a dramatic and effective image. I liked the neutral pose that could say almost anything to the viewer. I think his eye contact gives across a confident, ‘owning-he-camera’ emotion; however I feel that he also looks relaxed with a cigarettein his mouth. Bailey manages to capture the character of the subject in a pose such as this I like the bold contrast of the black and white and I particularly like the lighting with the dark shadow on the left of his face as it adds depth to the picture. I find this image inspiring because of the simple concept and framing which I would like to experiment with in my own work.
In conclusion, I feel that David Bailey is an artist I am particularly interested in because of his use of high contrast black and white photography with bold, yet simple composition, creating striking, eye-catching images which capture the character and ‘perfection’ of the celebrities he admires. Even though his photographs were taken predominantly in the 1960s, Bailey’s clever use of photographic elements has ensured that his work is timeless; they are still just as good today as they were the moment they were taken.