“My biggest disappointment? I hate getting old. All that bollocks about the golden age,” David Bailey, one of the most influential, profound, and talented photographers of our time explains in a recent interview with The Guardian.
David Bailey was born in 1938 in east London and left school at 15 with no qualifications. He learned to use a camera while on national service, and rose to fame in the early 1960s with his photographs of the model Jean Shrimpton for British Vogue. He continues to work for Vogue, Vanity Fair and i-D Magazine. In addition to being a beyond talented photographer, he is also a film-maker, painter and sculptor.
When were you happiest?
Tomorrow. I have an extra day.
What is your earliest memory?
Walking on glass after the house next door had been bombed and everything in our flat was covered in glass. I was about three and a half.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
Bob Dylan, because he is like a singing Picasso.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
It’s difficult to find one when you’re perfect. I guess always being right.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Hypocrisy. The English are experts in it.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
I don’t do embarrassing.
Property aside, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
The children’s education.
What is your most treasured possession?
What would your super power be?
To stop religious fanatics killing each other.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I don’t know. I don’t mind myself.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“Let’s do it my way.” Why? It’s not mine then.
Cat or dog?
My dog Pig, who is a reincarnation of Dirty Harry.
Is it better to give or to receive?
Are we talking about sex? If it’s sex, then it’s equal: giving and receiving.
What do you owe your parents?
The same as my kids owe me, which is nothing really.
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Probably to Buddha for not listening. Probably.
Who is the love of your life?
What was the best kiss of your life?
From Pig, when I haven’t seen him for a week.
Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
Yes, of course. Everyone has, unless they are hypocrites.
What is the worst job you’ve done?
Bad debt collector.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
Getting old, really. All that bollocks about the golden age.
How often do you have sex?
As much as possible.
What is the closest you’ve come to death?
During the blitz.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A couple of inches.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Managing without another couple of inches.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To expect the unexpected.
Interview and images via The Guardian