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"Smartphones have killed the photography star" says David Bailey

Once they were just as famous as the celebrities whose images they captured on film.

But the smartphone has ended the era of the star photographer – according to one of the greatest of them all, David Bailey.

 

David Bailey photographing fashion model Marie Helvey at home in London, August 8th 1977 CREDIT: BEN MARTIN/ARCHIVE PHOTOS

 

The 81-year-old, whose striking pictures of The Beatles, Mick Jagger and Twiggy set the tone for the Swinging Sixties, says today’s phone cameras allow amateurs to outdo professionals.

And he claims his wife of 33 years Catherine Dyer, 58, takes better photographs than he does to publish on her Instagram feed.

Bailey spoke out days after the death of photographer Terry O’Neill, a fellow Londoner who also rose to fame during the Sixties and took iconic pictures of stars including Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Brigitte Bardot and David Bowie.

 

David Bailey at Flannels in central London CREDIT: PAUL GROVER FOR THE TELEGRAPH

 

In one of his last interviews, published in Saturday's Telegraph Magazine, O’Neill confessed that he had wanted to be a jazz drummer rather than a photographer.

Growing up, I never wanted to be a photographer. I wanted to be a jazz drummer! Still do,” he said.

When I left The Daily Sketch [in 1964], my editor told me that I would amount to nothing. So the next day, I called everyone I knew looking for work. Everything turned out all right.

“I worked with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones at the start of their careers – and some of my images were the first of them to run in national newspapers.

As well as technology, some modern star photographers have also seen their careers hit by the MeToo movement.

 

German model Veruschka posing in a studio, while British photographer David Bailey lies on the ground and films her from below, March 1965 CREDIT: BERT STERN/CONDE NAST COLLECTION EDITORIAL

 

Terry Richardson and Mario Testino, who have shot celebrities including Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian, were both dropped by Vogue in recent years following separate allegations of sexual assault, which they deny.

Bailey told of his awe for “amazing” smartphone pictures as he promoted his £2,250 book Sumo, which features 300 of his most famous portraits, at fashion store Flannels in Oxford Street, London.

Dylan Jones, the editor of GQ, asked: “Obviously everyone with a telephone now thinks they’re a photographer, don’t they?

Bailey replied: “They are, they’re better than me! My wife takes much better pictures than I do on her Insta-whatever-it’s-called … Instagram. The pictures are amazing.

"I keep telling her she should publish a book, not me, they’re much better.

 

David Bailey with his wife Catherine at FLANNELS London CREDIT: PAUL GROVER

 

Mr Jones continued: “So is the age of photography over?

Bailey replied: “Yeah. You’ll be thankful, there’ll be no more David Baileys working for you.

"I think it’s so over, that star photographer thing has gone. Like in everything. There’s no star fashion person any more, it’s all spread out.

 

David Bailey and French actress Catherine Deneuve on their wedding day on the steps of St Pancras registry office, London, surrounded by press and police, 18th August 1965 CREDIT: KEYSTONE/HULTON ARCHIVE

 

Bailey made his name working for Vogue in the Sixties.

His distinctive black-and-white close ups became so highly regarded he was asked to photograph Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Queen, in 1989 and 2014 respectively.

Asked how he made the Queen smile, Bailey said: “I told her a joke”, but insisted its contents were “between me and my Majesty”.

 

 

More difficult subjects included gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray in 1965.

Ronnie, who was bisexual, said of Bailey's assistant: “He’s mine for the night.”

Luckily, the situation blew over when others at the shoot made a joke of it.

Asked about his favourite photo, Bailey says it is “the next one” and insists he will keep taking photographs to avoid getting bored.

 

 


Snap happy: How to take a smart photo

Taking the perfect smartphone picture requires you not to try anything flashy.

The flash of a smartphone can ruin a photo, as it is fixed in place and only directs the light straight at the subject, which can create shadows or overexposure.

Most smartphone cameras have the option of brightening or darkening the shot using exposure instead, by sliding a finger up or down the screen.

Make sure the camera is landscape, not portrait, and the shot is straight by using the horizon as a guide.

Do not be afraid to get in close to the subject of your picture, professionals advise, as most smartphone pictures will have too much space in them.

Take several shots in case one does not come out properly and only apply filters after, not before.


Article by Greg Wilford, Courtesy of The Telegraph

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