Following our cover shoot, we caught up with the respected photographer. Look out for Stylist today and tomorrow to see the full shoot.
You’ve just photographed Nighty Night star Julia Davis for this week's Stylist cover. Did you enjoy the shoot?
I agreed to do the shoot with Julia because I liked the cover you did with Tracey Emin. Stylist is not just some stupid fashion magazine. But it’s what I do, and have done for 55 years. Do you really think I’m going to notice?
You rang Julia before the shoot, why?
I always try to speak to people before I shoot them. Otherwise they’re coming in cold.
What did you chat to her about?
Oh I don’t remember, just about her really. When I do pictures it’s all about the person, not about me.
There were quite a few people on set such as make-up artists and hairdressers. Does that annoy you?
They don’t distract me. I hardly use make-up or hair, they’re there as back-up really. If you’re taking a portrait of somebody you want them to vaguely look like who they are, not like some sort of fashion model.
ABOVE: David Bailey shot comedian Julia Davis for this week's issue of Stylist
Did you get on well with Julia? Was there any bonding going on?
[Laughs] This sounds like Blue Peter! Yes of course I did. She seemed like a decent kind of person. I talk to people all the time when I’m shooting but I never really remember what we talk about. It’s usually something they’re interested in.
Do you do anything to put your subjects at ease?
I guess so, yes. I just treat them with respect, whether they’re a road sweeper or president, I treat them all the same.
Did you feel she was shy and that you needed to bring her out of her shell?
I think if she wants to be a comedian she better get over being shy! She was a bit, but so is everybody. Even I used to be shy when I was younger. But you can’t walk into a studio if you’re doing a commercial with 80 people and be shy. Not that I do commercials any more but when I did I think the record number of people we had on set was 2000.
Do you prefer it when things are more intimate when it comes to portrait shots like this?
It helps, yeah. Once someone’s on set, no-one like Hair and Make-Up is allowed to talk to them. That’s just as I would do if I was shooting a movie or something. Movie directors usually know what they’re doing but in photography there are lots of people who don’t know what they’re doing; all the art directors and all those people. I don’t need anybody else. If you want my picture then leave me alone. If you want to take your own picture get somebody else to do it.