Anyone who has held a DSLR camera knows who David Bailey (often known as just ‘Bailey’) is. But, have you heard of the inspiring David Bailey Masterclass book?
Fashion photographer, image artist and all-around creative genius, David Bailey has had a visual impact on photography from the celebrity chic of 1960’s fashion onwards. His influence is immense and his portraits still pack a punch.
In the age of high end digital and mirrorless cameras, tripods costing a week’s salary and Instagram mania I am reviewing a book published 31 years ago? Why? I know, it’s a fair question.
A Vintage Book Review
This is not a simple how-to book, it is a dazzling insight into the mind of a gifted photographer who loves his work.
I discovered ‘Masterclass‘ [Affilliate link] in a book shop, and as an aspiring photographer always looking to improve, the name David Bailey practically jumped off the shelf. The book is inspiring, fun and packed with insights for the aspiring DSLR user.
Where there is light, and where there is a subject, there too is a picture! and the great charm of the contemporary compact is that it goesDavid Bailey
A Short David Bailey Biography
David Bailey did not make a strong start at school, but after military service he entered the world of photography, working at several high profile studios before beginning to capture the ‘Swinging 60’s’ as part of a dynamic trio of photographers with Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy.
The social and party scene led to Bailey working for Vogue magazine with the top models of the day (Vogue Archive). His work with pop musicians also had a huge impact and his portraits are still influential. He photographed artists at the legendary Live Aid concert broadcast around the world in 1985.
Bailey is a movie and documentary film director and has photographed influential album covers for artists like Alice Cooper and Cat Stevens. He continues to work and influence visual artists today. Bailey’s CNN interview.
He’s a considerable scholar, and a technician of the highest order. He’s meticulous about cameras and film, but he’s also impulsive and imaginative and blessed with the most astonishing reflexes.Francis Hodgson
David Bailey ‘Masterclass’
The book is subtitled ‘A Guide to Creative Photography‘ and, even though it was written in the time of film cameras and many of the effects created in a real darkroom, this book is packed with knowledge, tips and the philosophies behind photography that work today.
The book began life as a series in a photography magazine which gives a brief presentation of one technique per page. Each is accompanied by an image that illustrates a specific point.
There are references to vintage techniques are fascinating to read and give you an insight into the history and development of SLR cameras, as well as how much easier image taking and development is today.
Every story, whether in pictures or not, needs a point, and you must have a clear idea of what you set out to show.David Bailey
This is no simple ‘how-to’ manual. The clear advice and guidance are relevant in 2019 and the source is one of the most inspiring photographers ever. From a real expert in his field, each thoughtful page will resonate with every photographer open to learn from a master.
The personality of Bailey shines through and the range of topics is immense, thanks to the book’s format. Each black and white photograph is accompanied by reflections on the picture and how it was created, notes on the personality or location and how the photographer (you) should be looking at your subject to get a specific effect.
Begin with a plain background, plain surroundings, your model simply dressed – and you will seldom go wrong.David Bailey
Techniques and concepts are explained by setting them alongside a Bailey original photograph. Often the text (written with George Hughes) is a how-to or a mini master class on how a photographer should approach a certain technique or subject.
The range of subjects and techniques is considerable and subjects are reflected on from multiple angles .
- Using your viewfinder
- Choice of subject
- Special effects
- Sunshine and shadows
As the digital SLR camera became popular around 2000, knowing something of its history through the eyes of one of the world’s finest photographers is a revelation.
The point is that nothing, not rules and not technique, should come between you and what you set out to do with a photograph.
Availability through Amazon [affiliate link] at modest prices. Books are usually second hand and good condition. If you want a new hardback copy the price is considerably higher.
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Hamlyn Publishing Group (1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0600558835
- ISBN-13: 978-0600558835
David Bailey 2019
David Bailey SUMO (2019) is a retrospective of massive size. It is packed with the finest portraits in Bailey’s extensive oeuvre. I came across this
From Nelson Mandela to HM the Queen and Mick Jagger this is a collection of pure (and expensive) luxury that is the ultimate tribute to one of the world’s finest photographers.
Do you have a favourite photographer? Someone who has had a similar impact on your work, and how you think about taking pictures? Tell me in the comments.