Monday, 23 January 2012

Other Sources of Inspiration

David Bailey
Just as important to me as my comic-books are my vintage magazines and I've been collecting them for many, many years. My most prized item of them all is the April 1962 edition of British Vogue. I was so happy when I discovered this in an old magazine shop about twenty years ago, because inside was the legendary photo editorial by a young David Bailey and starring his muse, Jean Shrimpton.

The reason why this particular magazine is relevant is because there's a film about to air this week on BBC4 based around this very assignment; when Bailey used a 35mm SLR instead of large or medium format and shot a fashion story like no other. Refusing to conform to the expectations of Vogue's fashion editor at the time his shoot resulted in a mix of fashion, reportage and a hint of Pop Art and changed the way fashion was photographed for all time. We'll Take Manhattan is on Thursday 26th January on BBC Four, Starring Aneurin Barnard and Karen Gillan and will hopefully be worth watching. Meanwhile, here are some scans from my own vintage copy of Vogue '62.

David Bailey has been an inspiration to me since I won my first all-plastic Diana camera in a talent contest at the age of ten. The contest was nothing to do with photography at all, but I was awarded this prize for my exceptional skill at delivering an ear-splitting Tarzan call. This was some form of entertainment for kids at the Sinah Warren holiday resort in Hayling Island. Anyhow, I made good use of this light-leaking piece of equipment until I'd saved enough pocket-money for something a little more robust. 

Bruce Fleming
I did finally get to see Bailey for real in the early 80's when I was assistant to a photographer called Bruce Fleming. Well known for his photos of Jimi Hendrix and a great many others, he was also a member of the swinging sixties photo-set and that day we were using the studio next door to Bailey. Bruce was another great inspiration for me and I'll always remember the things I learnt while working for him. He used to have an amazing selection of photographs on the wall of his apartment which he referred to as 'Memories and Friends on Eight by Tens'. One of them was a photo of him shaking hands with his own hero, Weegee and another was this cutting from King Magazine, September, 1966. The reason I can post this page is because coincidentally, I found this very magazine about six months ago on a vintage magazine stall in the East End.


  1. I watched the Bailey/Shrimpton show on BBC4 ... thought it was great. The guy who played Bailey was excellent but I thought Doctor Who girl a bit chubby in the face to play Shrimpton convincingly

  2. Yes, I finally got to see it last night. I think my expectations were pretty high and nothing could really come close to the iconic nature of Bailey's original shots and Jean Shrimpton's charisma, but it was well done. It was interesting that they'd included the scene where he'd had the 35mm shots enlarged to medium format to get round their submission 'rules'. I'd heard about that before but didn't know if it was an urban myth. The Bailey documentary shown afterwards was pretty good. Worth seeing in full are his documentaries on Warhol and Beaton. Priceless!


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