"A positive attitude can really make dreams come true - it did for me.""All pictures are unnatural. All pictures are sad because they're about dead people. Paintings you don't think of in a special time or with a specific event. With photos I always think I'm looking at something dead.""Every man who is high up loves to think that he has done it all himself; and the wife smiles, and lets it go at that.""I never cared for fashion much, amusing little seams and witty little pleats: it was the girls I liked.""It is a sign of a dull nature to occupy oneself deeply in matters that concern the body; for instance, to be over much occupied about exercise, about eating and drinking, about easing oneself, about sexual intercourse.""It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.""Rockers are the nicest people to photograph. They have no inhibitions.""When I die I want to go to Vogue."
Although born in Leytonstone, his family were forced to move to Heigham Road, East Ham when a World War II bomb destroyed the family home. Bailey was three years old, and this is where he and Thelma, his younger sister, were raised by their father Herbert, a tailor's cutter, and his wife, Gladys. Herbert left the family, and Gladys took work as a machinist.
"In the winter", he recalled, the family "would take bread-and-jam sandwiches and go to the cinema every night because in those days it was cheaper to go to the cinema than to put on the gas fire. I'll bet I saw seven or eight movies a week."
I remember our house being bombed when I was three. It was in Leytonstone - Alfred Hitchcock was born in the next street - in the East End, and we moved to East Ham. Some days you went to school and some days you didn't, and some days at school you went into the shelter.
I remember watching the doodlebugs [V-1 flying bombs] in the sky. A V-2 rocket knocked out a cinema in Upton Park where I used to go. I was pissed off, I thought Hitler had killed Mickey Mouse and Bambi.
I remember looking through the railings, waiting for my mum to take me home from Plashet Grove school. And I remember that for once in my life I got something right: when we were asked, "Who built the Suez Canal?" I said, "The French." I got it right by accident: I thought everyone who was foreign was French. After that, it was downhill all the way.
Bailey developed a love of natural history, and this led him into photography. Suffering from undiagnosed dyslexia, he experienced problems at school. He attended private school, Clark's College in Ilford, where he says they taught him less than the more basic council school.
We were posh East End, if that's possible, but I had cardboard in my shoes and was at the social bottom of this cheap private school; some of the parents had tobacconist's shops, which was a bit posher.
In one school year, he claims he only attended 33 times. He left school on his fifteenth birthday, to become a copy boy at the Fleet Street offices of the Yorkshire Post. He raced through a series of dead end jobs, before his call up for National Service in 1956, serving with the Royal Air Force in Singapore in 1957. The appropriation of his trumpet forced him to consider other creative outlets, and he bought a Rolleiflex.
He was demobbed in August 1958, and determined to pursue a career in photography, he purchased a Canon Rangefinder. Unable to obtain a place at the London College of Printing, because of his school record, he became a second assistant to David Ollins, in Charlotte Mews. He earned £3 10s (£3.50) a week, and acted as studio dogsbody. He was delighted to be called to an interview with photographer John French.
In 1959 he became a photographic assistant at the John French studio, and in May 1960, he was a photographer for John Cole's Studio Five before being contracted as a fashion photographer for British Vogue magazine later that year. He also undertook a large amount of freelance work.
Along with Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy, he captured and helped create the 'Swinging London' of the 1960s: a culture of high fashion and celebrity chic. The three photographers socialised with actors, musicians and royalty, and found themselves elevated to celebrity status. Together, they were the first real celebrity photographers. The film Blowup (1966), directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, concerns the work and sexual habits of a London fashion photographer played by David Hemmings and is largely based on Bailey.
The 'Swinging London' scene was aptly reflected in his Box of Pin-Ups (1964): a box of poster-prints of 1960s celebrities and socialites including Terence Stamp, The Beatles, and notorious East End gangsters the Kray twins (see photo).
The box was an unusual and unique commercial release, and it reflected the changing status of the photographer that one could sell a collection of prints in this way. (The strong objection to the presence of the Krays on the part of fellow photographer Lord Snowdon was the major reason no American edition of the "Box" ever appeared, nor a British second edition issued.)
Of Supermodel Jean Shrimpton, Bailey said:
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.
As well as fashion photography, Bailey has been responsible for record album sleeve art, for performers including The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull. He has also directed several television commercials and documentaries.
One of Bailey's most famous works depicts the Rolling Stones. It features Brian Jones, who drowned in 1969 while under the influence of drink and drugs. He is seen standing slightly apart from the rest of the group.
In 1976, Bailey published Ritz Newspaper together with David Litchfield.
Bailey was awarded the CBE in 2001.
In 2005, he was involved in a feature titled "British Rule" for GQ, charting the British influence on rock n' roll, photographing several artists including Paul Weller, Jarvis Cocker, Razorlight, Brian Eno, M.I.A., Ian Brown, The Futureheads, Belle & Sebastian, Damon Albarn, Dizzee Rascal, Kaiser Chiefs, Robyn Hitchcock, Super Furry Animals, and Colin Blunstone for the spread.
He maintains that his style of photography remains the same:
I've always tried to do pictures that don't date. I always go for simplicity.
He has worked with Manchester band Oasis, boxer Naseem Hamed and supermodel Naomi Campbell.
Bailey has been married four times: in 1960 to Rosemary Bramble; in 1965 to the actress Catherine Deneuve (divorced 1972); in 1975 to the model Marie Helvin; and in 1986 to the model Catherine Dyer, to whom he remains married. He has not eaten mammals from an early age, refrains from drinking alcohol and does not exercise. He is an art-lover with a long-held passion for the works of Picasso.