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Matinee: A Conversation With David Bailey Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

6 February 2021

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 291st in our series of Saturday matinees today: A Conversation With David Bailey.

This 2:38 monologue by fashion photographer David Bailey was recorded in his London studio last year. The 83-year-old has photographed everyone from Kate Moss to Andy Warhol in his career.

But perhaps his claim to fame is that he's a bit of a celebrity himself, having been the inspiration for Michelangelo Antonioni's London fashion photographer in Blowup from 1966.

Or perhaps it's that he had an affair with Jean Shrimpton, one of the first supermodels and a fixture of Swinging London. He calls her "the most beautiful girl in the world." And he spent some time doing the research.

Or -- even better -- it could have been his divorce from the actress (and, yes, model) Catherine Deneuve. He tells the story, "She phoned me once and said, 'Oh, Bailey, it's great.' 'What's great?' 'We got divorced today.' I said, 'Is that great?' She said, 'Yes, it means now we can be lovers.'"

But what stuck with us after seeing the video was his famous blank backgrounds. Nothing but white. Why distract? The model is the message.

We watch him work with a model as he talks about his career in photography. His conclusions are derived from what he has done. He's talking from experience.

That makes it engaging because it's his experience, 83 years of it. There are other arguments, other paths through photography, of course. And you may take issue with him. But as he says at the end, he's lived a charmed life.

Just ask Catherine Deneuve.

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