Brighton professor writes foreword for huge Bailey book

A University of Brighton professor has written the text for a super-sized book of images by legendary photographer David Bailey.

In his foreword, Francis Hodgson, Professor in Culture of Photography, praises Bailey’s ability to “find” and capture a person’s personality in his photographs.

The book, the latest in a select series of giant books published by TASCHEN, is entitled ‘The David Bailey SUMO’ and priced at £2250. It is so big that it comes with a special stand designed by Marc Newson.

It features archive portraits from the 1950s to the 2010s, including photos of Nelson Mandela, The Beatles, The Queen, Salvador Dali, Bill Gates and Yves Saint Lauren.

Of his long-term collaboration with Bailey, Hodgson said: “Some time ago we did a public conversation at the Cambridge Union.

“That was fun and went okay, and I guess I have been one of his scribes ever since. There aren’t that many people who write accessibly about photography for the broadsheet audience, and even fewer who take Bailey seriously as a major figure.

“I happen to admire his talent, respect his career, and I hope I understand what he’s about. That makes me a pretty good choice to write the foreword to his books. I have done a small number of books with Bailey over the years, and written many reviews of his shows.”

In his foreword to the book, Hodgson writes: “Anyone who has seen him [Bailey] make a portrait knows that it’s a very physical business; he stalks around, prodding here and there, telling jokes, pulling clothing or limbs this way and that. What he’s doing is trying to allow character to come out.

“Any kind of interference is good; it can be sexual teasing or flirting, storytelling, gloriously provocative conversation – anything to nudge a person out of stage fright or smugness. If you have any personality at all, he’ll find it and it won’t take long.

“The plain background is a graphic device but it’s also a boxing ring. When you go to Bailey’s studio, you get into the ring with him and he’ll search out what you’ve got. He doesn’t waste film.”

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