David Bailey: “How are you going to cross the road?”

by JamesNYCJuly 12. 2014 05:40

 

Mr. Bailey, would you swear in front of the Queen?

No, if you’re going to accept the Queen you have to accept the tradition. You know, I’ve got nothing against monarchy. I think there are too many hangers-on, but that’s also a cliché thing to say. I doubt she’d be too shocked. She’s been around; she’s not stupid.

You recently took the official photo for her 88th birthday.

Yes and I think she looks incredible for 88. I had never photographed her before.

Why not?

I wouldn’t photograph anybody if they only give you five minutes. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care if God phoned me up and said, “I want a picture, I’ve only got five minutes.” I’d say, “Well, work some of your magic and make it longer!” Even though I’m actually quicker than most and I usually get bored before they get bored.

What kind of people are the most difficult to photograph?

Lots of politicians are so full of themselves. Sports people too a bit. But actors are the most difficult because you never know who you’re photographing. They could be Hamlet or Lassie. But the fewer people they come with, the more interesting they usually are. Johnny Depp came with nobody so I knew it was going to be all right. Jack Nicholson never came with anybody, but Jack’s different because I’ve known him for so long.

 You once said Jack Nicholson is the smartest actor because he knows something nobody else does. What is it that he knows?

I don’t fucking know. If I knew, I’d be as smart as him. (Laughs)

One of the things that fascinated me when I met him was his grin and the sparkle in his eye when he talked about women.

Yeah, with Viagra. He’s the first person that told me about Viagra.

When was that?

Oh, years ago. Before everyone knew about it! (Laughs)

When you know someone very well like you do Jack Nicholson is it easier to take a great portrait of them?

It depends. It’s one of those abstract things. We had a difficult bloke this week, what was he called? Van Morris or somebody… He was so grumpy. But I loved him being grumpy because I could use his grumpiness. I got a great grumpy picture out of him. If I see another picture of a rock ‘n’ roller against some graffiti… It drives you mad, the same old picture! Can’t they ever think of something different to do? So I don’t mind people that are difficult. I quite like that. It amuses me because there is always a way around it. I mean, no one could be more difficult than Van whatever he’s called, Van Morrison.

It seems pointless to have your picture taken if you’re not going to cooperate though.

Well he left really happy, Van Morrison. But it is kind of pointless to come here if you’re not going to help me. They might not like the picture, but one day they will. One day that’s what they’re going to look like – whether they look like that or not. Medici said to Michelangelo, “That sculpture doesn’t look like me.” Michelangelo said, “Listen, you’ll be dead in 20 years, but this will be around for 2,000 years. So, that’s what you look like!” You could say that a bit with photography.

Does it often happen that people aren’t happy with their portrait, but then years later change their mind?

Yeah. 10 years later usually. We had one recently, I won’t mention his name, I shot him 30 years ago and he said, “I hate the picture.” But his wife bought one for him as a birthday present recently. (Laughs) 30 years later and come get the picture.

Are celebrities more difficult nowadays than they were 30 or 40 years ago?

Well, I avoid celebrities. I’m not really interested in people that come with PR. That’s probably why I can’t work in America, because I don’t take all that bullshit. I don’t know how people like Bruce Weber manage, because it would drive me mad. All these silly people who don’t know anything that come with celebrities and try to tell you what to do. It’s madness! They brought it on themselves, the magazines. They should have been stricter. They should have said, “No, we’re not showing you. We’re doing the interview and that’s that.” But instead they pander to them and in the end they end up owning you. Those magazines are owned by the celebrities, really.

You don’t strike me as the type to pander to anyone.

I never really read what people write about me, but the comments people made when doing this exhibition recently at the National Portrait Gallery are so stupid. “Oh, Bailey panders to these people.” I don’t pander to anybody. I just do the picture I do. I don’t care who it is. And I won’t do pictures if people want approval. It has always seemed stupid to me that they ask you to do something and then want to sort of tell you how to do it. What madness!

What about magazines?

In fact, the magazines only get one image. If they don’t like it, then either I say to them, “I have another one,” or else, “Forget it, don’t publish it.”

Does that limit the number of magazines you work with today?

I don’t work for American Vogue anymore, for example. I’m great mates with Anna, I’ve known her for years, but it’s not a question of friendship. It’s just that I don’t do what she wants and she doesn’t do what I want.

Is it impossible for you to collaborate with people that are not exactly on your wavelength?

They’re not even allowed to come on the set when I shoot, not the art director or the stylist or anyone. I’ve always been a bit like that. I remember British Vogue blackmailed photographers in the early days to get them to do what they wanted. They would say, “Well if you don’t sign a contract, you can’t work for us.” And since there was nobody else to work for in England at that moment, you didn’t really have an option. So I’m not very fond of the business people at Condé Nast. I’ve got nothing against the editors and the people that work there, but I think that the business people are less than… modern. (Laughs) I don’t know where they’re coming from! It’s like leftover from a bygone age.

It’s surprising that so much politics are involved in an industry that’s supposed to be so creative.

Well Vogue will destroy itself if it goes on like that because everything that’s run by accountants eventually vanishes up its own ass. The only reason I did fashion in the first place was because I thought, “If I’m going to do photography my way, the only way to be creative and get paid is to do fashion.” So I stopped doing it in the ’80s when I started directing more and more commercials.

How do you pick the people that you take portraits of?

I’m only interested in what I’m interested in.The rest just sort of happened that way. I mean, I knew Mick before he was anybody really, when he was still at the London School of Economics. So that’s another accident in my life, that Mick happened to be a good mate.

You seem to have had all kinds of accidents happen to you. Didn’t Freddie Mercury stick his tongue down your throat during the 1985 Live Aid concert?

Yeah he did. Him and Terry Richardson’s father, they’re the only two men who’ve managed to get their tongues in my mouth! (Laughs)

How many have tried?

Oh, lots. Once I was just in the club and I said, “Who is this old fuck who keeps buying me scotch and sodas?” And they said, “Oh, that’s Francis Bacon.” (Laughs) I didn’t know who Francis Bacon was! But I always took it as a compliment. These silly people that say, “Oh, I was sexually assaulted because somebody grabbed my ass in a gay club.” What are you doing in a gay club?

It’s like going to the pool and complaining that you got wet.

True, if you don’t get your ass grabbed, there’s probably something wrong with you. Take it as an enjoyment! If you don’t like it, don’t go to gay clubs! Fucking idiots. I mean, when I was at school I had teachers try to kiss me all the time, so don’t tell me. It’s all bullshit. If you can’t handle that, then how are you going to get through the rest of life? How are you going to cross the road?

Have you always had a bit of a temper?

Well, that’s a funny story… During the war we got bombed and our flat was so destroyed that we had to move to the countryside. One time two boys said to me, “Would you like a blackberry?” and I said, “Yeah.” So they gave me a blackberry. And they said, “Do you want another one?” I said, “Yeah, it was nice.” And they gave me another one and said, “Did you like that?” I said, “Yes.” And they said, “Well, we peed on those.” So when they had gone I set fire to their fucking field. (Laughs)

How old were you?

About five. Five and a half maybe.

 

 VIA THE TALK

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Giant wet Plate Camera project Part 2

by JamesNYCMarch 30. 2013 01:08

Our friend James Weber who when not shooting fashion and beauty, has become a serious Wet Plate photographer. And like every American he too wants things bigger. To achieve that James did a great deal of research and came up with the idea of using an "Indoor Grow Room" as a camera.

check out his full story with more images videos and details here.

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Fuck you, Pay me – a discussion of adventures in contracts, negotiation, and payment

by JamesNYCMarch 25. 2013 11:03

This video made the rounds a few years ago and it seems to be making a resurgence once again on several photography & creative blogs. It may be long and the speaker presents his view from the point of a creative at a design company, but it's really worth the time to watch as most of what they talk about will apply to commercial photographers too.

2011/03 Mike Monteiro | F*ck You. Pay Me. from San Francisco Creative Mornings on Vimeo.

Our speaker at the March 2011 San Francisco, CreativeMornings (www.creativemornings.com) was Mike Monteiro, Design Director, and co-founder of Mule Design Studio (www.muledesign.com). This event took place on March 25, 2011 and was sponsored by Happy Cog and Typekit (who also hosted the event at their office in the Mission).

Mike's book "Design is a Job" is available from A Book Apart (www.abookapart.com/products/design-is-a-job)

A big giant thank you to Chris Whitmore (www.whitmoreprod.com) for offering to shoot and edit the video. Photos were graciously provided by Rawle Anders (twitter.com/rawle42).

The San Francisco chapter of Creative Mornings is run by Greg Storey (twitter.com/​brilliantcrank).

Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/​SanFrancisco_CM

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Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Brian Lanker, 1947-2011

by JamesNYCApril 15. 2011 08:19

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Brian Lanker passed away yesterday in Eugene Or. after a battle with pancreatic Cancer.

I had the privilege of working with Brian Lanker many years ago as a young photo assistant in Boston.
He had come to Boston to photograph former White House butler Eugene Allen  who served for 34 years under 8 Presidents, from Truman to Reagan. At the time Brian's regular first assistant was Ray Ng.
Though I only worked with Brian and Ray on this one shoot it was one of those experiences that turns out to be a great personal and professional learning experience; and one of the many reasons why I have in my writings and workshops encouraged photo assistants to diversify and work with as many different types of photographers as they possibly can.

Brian was the first photographer I'd worked with that actually did any research about his subjects.
Previously photographers I'd worked with just showed up to a location or met their subject at a studio took their photographs with little to no conversation or interaction with the subject and walked away with "So-So" images..
I was to learn that Brian had read Mr. Allen's entire memoir during his travel time during the previous 36 hours.
This preparation allowed Brian the opportunity to relate to and interact with his subject, and discuss Mr. Allen's book and have him discuss some of his first hand experiences a great many of which never made it into Mr. Allen's book. (The only other time I would see this level of personal preparation would be a few years later when I worked with Mark Seliger.)
This behind the scenes information, the conversations, and life experience are what really made those early days of photo assisting great.
Working with Brian also taught me about Lighting.
It was this first time I'd worked with someone that didn't setup a dozen soft boxes and then wrestle with trying to control the light that would inevitably be bouncing all over the place. It is my recollection that Brian worked in a 'Subtractive process' rather than an additive process. Too often photographers will just add another light.

Brian on this shoot used Dynalites with grid sets and Cine foil. This made more work for the assistants because we were constantly adjusting the lights to hit the moving subject as Brian wanted; but it also gave Brian the ultimate control over his lighting and how the lighting would interact with his subject.
For those of you not familiar with Brians work consider doing a Google Images search or checking our his book: I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America

Credit - NPPA
Brian Lanker won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Photography for "Moment Of Life," a small black-and-white photography essay that captured Lynda [then Coburn] giving birth via the Lamaze method, which was a newsworthy development in the early 1970s. The photographer was 25 years old. Lynda was 29 and giving birth to her second child, Jacki. When the Coburns divorced, Lynda and Brian married on December 31, 1974.
View a short interview with Brian Lanker heree.

 

 

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Interview with Photographer Lou Jones

by JamesNYCJanuary 3. 2011 18:52
Here is an interview with photographer and ICP instructor Lou Jones. Lou wrote a great book called: "The Naked and the lens." Beyond the fact that the book features fine art nudes and the discussion of thereof, it is also an incredible photo graphic resource with the amount of information it contains regarding photography, digital photography and digital capture.

Part 1

1ProPhotoTV.Com interview with Boston portrait and location photographer Lou Jones.

Part 2

1ProPhotoTV.Com interview with Boston portrait and location photographer Lou Jones.

Part 3

1ProPhotoTV.Com interview with Boston portrait and location photographer Lou Jones.

Part 4

1ProPhotoTV.Com interview with Boston portrait and location photographer Lou Jones.

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Stuff people say

Any photographer who says he’s not a voyeur is either stupid or a liar. - Helmut Newton

 

"The Camera does not lie, Post Production and Publishers do". - James-ism 09/06/2013

 

"Papa, ... Music is your love, but Photography is your Religion." - Joya D. Hall-Sullivan | Age 10

 

"All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth." - Richard Avedon - 1984

 

 "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Alva Edison

 

"Any photographer who says he’s not a voyeur is either stupid or a liar." - Helmut Newton

 

"You don’t have to sort of enhance reality. There is nothing stranger than truth." - Annie Leibovitz

 

"When you find yourself beginning to feel a bond between yourself and the people you photograph, when you laugh and cry with their laughter and tears, you will know you are on the right track." - Weegee

 

" The camera is much more than a recording apparatus. It is a medium via which messages reach us from another world." - Orson Welles

 

"Some people's photography is an art. Not mine. Art is a dirty word in photography. All this fine art crap is killing it already." - Helmut Newton

 

"Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more. " - Nikola Tesla

 

"I think all art is about control - the encounter between control and the uncontrollable." - Richard Avedon

 

"The first 10 000 shots are the worst." - Helmut Newton

 

“If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no short cuts in photography.” – Edward Weston

 

"Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning." - Mahatma Gandhi

 

"Ultimately success or failure in photographing people depends on the photographer's ability to understand his fellow man." - Edward Weston

 

"If you want reality take the bus." - David LaChapelle

 

"You don't take a photograph, you make it." - Ansel Adams

 

"When I have sex with someone I forget who I am. For a minute I even forget I’m human. It’s the same thing when I’m behind a camera. I forget I exist." - Robert Mapplethorpe

 

" Great photography is always on the edge of failure." - Garry Winogrand

 

"I don’t think photography has anything remotely to do with the brain. It has to do with eye appeal." - Horst P. Horst

 

"Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn't look like somebody else's work." - William Klein

 

"Avedon claims to have been the best photographer in the '60s - bullshit - Bob Richardson was - despite or because of being insane and strung out on drugs, I managed to do photographs that are considered iconic - being known as the 'photographer's photographer' means I lead and they follow - I'm broke and they are rich." - Bob Richardson

 

"If you're absent during my struggle, don't expect to be present during my success" - Will Smith

 

"Either take the lead or follow behind, just stay the fuck out of my way." - James Sullivan

 
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