'I’m a whore; I fall in love with my subjects': Portrait show brings out the beast in David Bailey

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Most people benefit from experience, but in David Bailey’s opinion age has not improved his skills. Speaking at the launch of an exhibition of his work at the National Portrait Gallery today, the photographer admitted that he is no better now than he was when he started taking pictures more than 50 years ago. “I haven’t progressed. I’ve probably got less good. I take exactly the same photos as I did when I was 16,” he said.

Images of Jack Nicholson, Jerry Hall, Francis Bacon and a new picture of Kate Moss will be among the exhibits to feature in “Bailey’s Stardust”. He has chosen more than than 250 portraits for the show, which will open at the gallery next year.

At the launch Sandy Nairne, director of the NPG, described him as “one of the world’s greatest image makers”. Bailey was in irascible form, insisting that he was “an artist” and suggesting that in some cases he liked the people more than the pictures he produced of them.

On putting his subjects at their ease, he said: “I’m a whore; I fall in love with them while they’re with me, whether man or woman. They’re the centre of your universe for two hours.”

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