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Friday, 16 April, 1999, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Bailey's Sixties on show
Francoise Dorleac and Catherine Deneuve, photographed in 1966
He captured most of the 1960s' most powerful icons in his photographs and became a celebrity in his own right. Now the best of David Bailey's work is on show in London.

He first became interested in photography while serving in the Royal Air Force, and he started out as an assistant to fashion photographer John French.

His first published pictures appeared in 1960, and from then he became famous for making stars of a new generation of models - such as Jean Shrimpton, Catherine Deneuve and Penelope Tree.

Treating models as invididuals

Jean Shrimpton: "A natural"
Whereas models once appeared cold and aloof, Bailey's work gave them a personality, thanks to the close rapport he enjoyed with them. It was considered revolutionary at the time.

"You treat each person as an individual," he says. "You adapt to who you're photographing. It's their personality, not mine I want."

Of Jean Shrimpton, he says: "She was magic and the camera loved her too. In a way she was the cheapest model in the world - you only needed to shoot half a roll of film and then you had it.

"She had the knack of having her hand in the right place, she knew where the light was, she was just a natural."

One of the most famous works on show at the exhibition depicts the Rolling Stones. It features Brian Jones, who drowned in 1969 while under the influence of drink and drugs. He is seen slightly apart from the rest of the group.

Going for simplicity

david bailey
David Bailey: Better than life in East Ham
"It says a lot, that photograph. Brian was the outsider. I always felt sorry for him - he formed the group and Mick took over," says Bailey.

Some of Bailey's more recent work - featuring Oasis and model Naomi Campbell - is included alongside the older material. But his style of photography remains the same.

He says, "I've always tried to do pictures that don't date. I always go for simplicity."

Bailey insists he wasn't hungry for fame and fortune, but he knew from the start that he would have to make a career for himself.

"It was just better than living in East Ham. I knew I'd rather be at Vogue than in East Ham. It was as simple as that really - a step in the right direction."

Birth of the Cool runs at the Barbican Centre in London until 27 June.

The BBC's Rosie Millard meets David Bailey
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