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David Bailey recalls photographing ‘kind of cheeky’ Queen for royal portrait

The photographer spoke at the launch of his Vision And Sound exhibition in London.
Photographer David Bailey launches his new exhibition Bailey: Vision And Sound at 45 Park Lane London (Ian West/PA) / PA Wire
22 September 2022

avid Bailey has recalled greatly enjoying his photo shoot with the Queen, describing the late monarch as “terrific” and “kind of cheeky”.

The 84-year-old photographer, known for documenting the Swinging Sixties in London and further afield, photographed the Queen in 2014.

His portrait showed Elizabeth II smiling and wearing sapphire jewellery given to her by her father King George VI as a wedding gift in 1947.

In 2017 it was reissued to mark the 65th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.

Speaking to the PA news agency at the launch of his Vision And Sound exhibition at 45 Park Lane, Bailey recalled that the royal sitting was not rushed.

Asked whether the image carries any renewed significance following the Queen’s death on September 8, he said: “I thought I liked it when I did it. I liked her very much. I thought she was terrific.

“She gave me plenty of time to do it. I said, ‘three changes?’, and she said, ‘no, I’ll give you two’, so I said, ‘that’s fine’.

“And I did the pictures and enjoyed it and she enjoyed it, I think.”

He added: “She was kind of cheeky.”

Speaking about his love of photographing people, Bailey said: “I always worked with people. It’s never an issue of photography. You’re never alone in a way. You have always got somebody.

“I tend to prefer photographing people, not landscapes – and I can’t talk to a tree.”

Bailey added that he rarely went to a shoot with a plan in mind for his subject.

He said: “I never have ideas. I just wait until it happens. I just hope something will happen or hope I say something that will make them repeat it or, I don’t know, anything.

“We always get something. I try to stop them falling asleep – make a joke or something.”

The exhibition showcases the faces behind the music that defined the past 60 years, including portraits of Miles Davis, Sir Mick Jagger, David Bowie and The Beatles.

It also includes previously unseen record cover outtakes of albums from Alice Cooper and The Rolling Stones, and behind-the-scenes shots of rock band Queen at Live Aid.

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