Bailey: The Lens in Him

By Gabrielle Delgado

Mick Jagger is engulfed in a large fur coat, gazing dreamily into the lens. Positioned against a strikingly white background, his features up close carry movement within the stillness. There are strays of fur brushing his face. He is wearing that perpetual Jagger look, with heavy-lidded eyes and pouting lips. But it is not his obvious fame, his fast-climbing relevance that brings the image to life. On the contrary, it is a personal feeling, as if the camera is just the messenger, a thin line between the onlooker and the subject. He is alive as ever here.

It was none other than photographer David Bailey who captured the singer in this iconic image, “Mick in Fur Hood”(1964). Bailey ripped the chic of the Fifties to shreds at the turn of the decade with his raw style of shooting; the subjects were seen as themselves in his work, blemishes unbrushed and their vulnerable personalities center stage.

Bailey quickly became everyone’s favorite photographer in the sixties, at a time when the world was changing fast in the realms of art, cinema, fashion, and ways of life.

During a shoot, Bailey would spend hours speaking with whom he would photograph, then take mere minutes to capture the shot. He felt knowing the person was most essential.

His gift lay in capturing someone in a way that drew out the artist inside, the person they truly were. Bailey had a knack for capturing a sense of spontaneity and clarity in his photographs. The key was simply to form a connection, a creative kinship; to feel the moment as it was, rather than what the image hoped to be.

Along with fellow East Enders Terrence Donovan and Brian Duffy, Bailey would go on to spark a massive change in not only the look but the medium of photography, and his body of work tells the story of that shift unabashedly.

In his images, the change in the world and its style is also mirrored; Bailey has often discussed the likes of John Lennon, Mick Jagger, David Hockney, and Terrence Stamp, and how their loose qualities of style and unbrushed features carved irreverence into manhood, and into high society.

Now in the throes of the digital age, Bailey has decided to release rare and intimate polaroids from his shoots with legends such as Andy Warhol and Princess Diana. They each come with a certificate of authenticity, an archival treasure.

Princess Diana by David Bailey

At the Dellasposa Gallery here in London, collectors have the chance to pick at random and get the rare chance to own a Bailey original. These images give just a hint into Bailey’s obsessive documentation of his subjects over the years and are an ode to his classic, intimate style.

Although he’d later claim this unconventional, alluring energy was dead by ’65 “when the Americans arrived”, many would note his work to be pivotal in creating the Swinging London of the Sixties.

It is that exact forward-moving attitude Bailey expresses, that drive to avoid ever staying put in the past, that defined his trailblazing impact from the start.

Kate Moss by David Bailey

Bailey was a daring kid with a wicked eye, searching for truth in every corner of the city. If anything, his unforgiving creative compulsion is ever-inspiring; sometimes our artistic endeavors can only be found in the underbelly of life, in the chaos within us.

Find out more about Dellasposa Gallery and Bailey’s Rare Polaroid Release Here.

If you enjoyed reading Bailey: The Lens in Him why not try reading The Past Meets the Future

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