I went yesterday to his exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. You can buy tickets in advance but visitors were able to buy them on the day as it was well attended but not over crowded.
This truly is Bailey at his best. Be prepared to well up at his Ethiopa 1984 pictures.. .we all saw them and Band Aid was one of the results but also be prepared to see brilliant strong portraits of virtually every celebrity, fashion designer, rock star, photographer, model and artist from 5 decades.
All shot with a delightful minimalism allowing the character of the subject to shine through. For me this is what makes him "great". His pictures are instantly recognisable as a "Bailey" often with stark contrast but never over powering the subject. Perhaps this is why he is one of the greatest portrait photographers of the last 50 years and in his own words, he never thought of himself as a fashion photographer anyway.."I just liked what was in the frocks!", so guys, don't feel guilty!!
He is also quoted as saying "of course anyone can be an artist now"!! I think he has earned the right to make such comments. I was always aware that one thing I shared with him at least was his love of the Rolleiflex 2.8f TLR and I knew he used the Hasselblad for much of his work..but also 35mm right the way through to 10" x 8" view cameras.
These are the tools of the job and highlights again that expecting your DSLR to be appropriate for every task is expecting too much! It goes back again to process. If you are shooting portraits with a 10 x 8 you probably take one or two pictures...not dozens! You really needed to understand the medium you were working with and a substantial amount of knowledge and technique. I am "fortunate" enough to be old enough to have followed that same route and worked with every type of camera and taught processing and dark room..just don't take pictures as well as he does (or have the rich and famous queuing up to be shot by me)!!!
A Nikon D800 or Medium Format digital may take images you can blow up to wall size but that is missing the point!
Having said that, he is no snob either with a room set aside for pictures (large!) he has taken on a mobile phone...embracing technology then but with a full grasp and understanding of where it has all come from..?
Just Go..is really the answer. Captivating and inspirational.
If you don't come out bubbling with ideas you probably need to sell your kit!
Going myself next week....saw the documentary on him last year as well which featured him using a Rollie, 5 X 4, and Mamiya MF rangefinder. Certainly a photographic 'great' in my opinion.......and despite being a household name almost, I still think his stature has not received the worldwide recognition it deserves.
One interesting thing I picked up from reading a review of the exhibition.....he was stationed in Singapore when I went to school there as my dad was stationed there at the time....so a relatively small world....
Already booked it for my birthday, there is no way I could miss it. His expressionism in his work is outstanding. The recent documentary about the exhibition was awesome, his explanation of his work was far too humble. He comes across as an ordinary man but his talent is from another world.
I make no apologies for bumping this back onto the forum! It would be refreshing to think that some photographers and models might believe there is some value in aspiring to different standards to the majority of stuff posted on here and it might even be the case that something could be gained by studying the work of some of the most successful photographers on the planet!
(It is also clear to me that there are models and photographers on here who do work to and aspire to work to extremely high standard (jealous!) but I'll bet they still think they can continue to evolve?)
I apologise if you have already read the OP and may be even planned to go! If you haven't hold off booking your next shoot, may be planned very much along the lines of your last shoot, and spend the money instead on a trip to London.
If you don't come out of this show a little bit in awe and bubbling with new ideas..or even old ideas with new insight, then I will eat my hat..which is OK because I have several.