Aside from marrying Catherine Deneuve, partying with the Rolling Stones, and inspiring the David Hemmings character in Antonioni’s Blowup, famed British photographer David Bailey is best known for magnifying the 1960s’ “Swinging London” with his iconic images of the era’s creative luminaries — from his VIP vantage within the vertiginous and intersecting worlds of rock, art, film and fashion. But Bailey wasn’t only interested in fashion (where he made his name by bending every rule) nor portraits (which everyone wanted to be immortalized by); he also loved to aim his camera far beyond the coolest circles of London and New York.
“I need to move on all the time,” he told us. “I’m not very good at staying on one thing.” In 2011, Bailey, then 75, went on his 15th journey to India, this time exploring New Delhi. Never an artist to see or render the world in predictable ways, he danced past the tourist clichés to capture color, texture and incident that brought the city’s humanity into sharp focus, by way of his honed eye and traveller’s serendipity. The result, published by his favorite bookmaker, the Germany-based Gerhard Steidl (with whom he has created a dozen titles) is the 2-volume set, Delhi Dilemma. In the video below, Bailey talks about how Delhi compares to the East End of London where he grew up, his one rule for shooting in a foreign place, the lowdown on chemical vs digital, why he got into fashion years before, and a lot else besides.
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