Get 6 Months of ShootQ Free With Any Workshop Purchase!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
Insights & Thoughts

David Bailey: ‘Selfies’…will die out soon

By Adam Kuzik on February 5th 2014

76-year old, British photographer David Bailey, famously known for capturing the free spirit of the swinging ’60’s has predicted the death of “selfies.”

REALLY??? The death of selfies?


First Off, Who is David Bailey?

David Bailey (b. January 2, 1938) is an English photographer and regarded as one of the UK’s best. His career at British Vogue started in 1960. Bailey captured and helped create the ‘Swinging London’ of the 1960s: a culture of fashion and celebrity chic. This allowed him to socialize with actors, musicians and royalty, elevating him to celebrity status. Over the following years, Bailey’s ascent at Vogue was meteoric. At the height of his productivity, he shot 800 pages of Vogue editorials in one year and his career kept on going.

In 2001, Bailey was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire “for services to Art.” In 2005, he was awarded ‘The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal’ and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography. In 2005, he was involved in a feature titled British Rule for GQ, charting the British influence on rock and roll, photographing several musicians. In 2010, he visited Afghanistan to photograph British troops raising money for the charity Help For Heroes. Bailey holds an extensive list of published books and public exhibitions.

So, when Bailey, whose famous subjects included Kate Moss, Mick Jagger and Jack Nicholson, said in a story published recently by Reuter’s, he has never taken a self portrait on a smartphone or webcam because he was too busy taking pictures of other people, it makes you wonder: What happened to him?

“I only just found out what ‘selfies’ were. I thought it was something entirely different! It’s just a silly moment,” Bailey told Reuters ahead of his latest exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Wait a second, the man who helped shape the ‘Swinging 60’s’ and has been a huge influence in the photography world missed arguably, the most significant photographic movement ever?

The Year Decade of the ‘Selfies’

‘Selfies,’ in case you missed it, was Oxford Dictionary’s 2013 Word of the Year! Favorited by, well, almost everyone from college students to celebrities to my mom; I’m pretty sure in our narcissistic and #humblebrag  society, ‘selfies’ are here to stay.

[REWIND: Hashtag Alert: National #Selfie Portrait Gallery in London]

“People won’t be doing it in six months’ time. There will be another craze, I can’t see the point” predicts Bailey. Right… And Instagram will lose all of its 32,000,000 users.

[REWIND: Cheapest Vogue Fashion Editorial? All Shot on iPhone Instagram App]

And don’t try to tell us you didn’t tweak your photos in the darkroom either. It’s just easier now with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. (Speaking of Lightroom, Have you tried our Lightroom Presets & Workshop v5? It’ll help make your selfies look fantastic!)

Jerry Hall and Helmut Newton, Cannes by David Bailey, 1983 © David Bailey

Jerry Hall and Helmut Newton, Cannes by David Bailey, 1983 © David Bailey


If you haven’t been able to tell yet, this story has really struck a nerve with me. As photographers, isn’t our job to capture and interpret the society in which we live? Clearly Bailey’s time has come and gone. In trying to find out everything about the man and make sense of this story, I’ve really just come to the conclusion that Bailey is a Honey Badger; he’s trying to stay in the game, delaying the inevitable exit, stage left. Don’t get me wrong, coming to this conclusion was a bit disappointing. I really wanted to learn about a man who lived an amazing life and was embracing our generation of photographers and the technology that has brought photography to the masses.

Mr. Bailey, with all due respect, there comes time in a person’s life where the world just doesn’t make sense any more. I’m only in my mid-thirties and already seeing a much different world than the one I grew up in. But instead of putting my head down and running for shelter, I, like so many others, have embraced evolution. And as long as there are mobile phones with cameras, there will be selfies… and that’s pretty much how the cell phone manufactures want to keep it.

[Via @Wikipedia)/Reuters]

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Adam Kuzik is the founder and owner of Studio 35 Photography + Video based near Calgary, Canada. He is a professional wedding and commercial photographer as well as an industry educator.

Adam’s Facebook: AKPhotoCanada
Studio 35’s Facebook: Studio35Photography

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Anna P

    First off, just who is Adam Kuzik? With all due respect, there comes a time in a person’s career as a photographer, blogger and industry educator when you just have to call it a day. Embrace evolution. Try something else.

    | |
  2. Dan Robinson

    So, for one, as a ‘professional photographer’ you don’t know who David Bailey is? You claim you are ‘a professional wedding and commercial photographer as well as an industry educator’. As the industry goes, this guys has done pretty well in it, better than any of us could probably hope to in this day and age of ‘selfies’. He is an OAP and yet he his still bringing in more revenue and respect from photos he shot before many of us were even born(I’m a eighties child so twenty years before me!) I don’t disagree that being able to shoot a photo with your phone isn’t great but come on?! Many people have many photos but without a real focus on content are you going to be seen? I doubt it. Two, If every one is going to embrace the selfie culture then why the hell would they need to hire you? “I don’t need to spend $10k on you guys,we’re just going to shoot it our selves with our iphone and uncle Bob. You have a medium format what??oh, I have shallow pockets.” This site is great but some times the posts seem to be written by idiots. When I was growing up my Dad told me to bulk up essays with bulls**t to make them reach the world count. There is so much going on in the photographic world that we don’t need the bulls**t to bulk it up.

    | |
  3. Barbu

    ‘Selfies’…will die out soon, or not, but STUPID PEOPLE will live for EVER ! ! !

    | |
  4. Gareth

    I can’t believe someone who claims to be a professional photographer is only hearing about Bailey now.
    He’s not just an icon of photography but of a generation. They even used him as the inspiration for ‘blowup’, the movie.
    He’s the guy who made it okay for cropping off the forehead in shots.
    He’s one of the top 20 photographers in history. His influence is enormous. With no Bailey, there is no Rankin.
    And he thinks selfies are silly.

    Where is the article there?
    An article about how you’re only coming to know his work now would be more appropriate.

    | |
  5. Freeman

    Adam Kuzik, you stand up in public state that David Bailey is “trying to stay in the game, delaying the inevitable exit” and in the same breath you say that HE is out of touch with reality…?

    | |
  6. Josh

    I will take a selfie in 5 years to prove him wrong

    | |
  7. thefairystamp

    I am a little shocked. You should really take some time and invest in knowledge about proper content strategy, and the art of writing. It is one thing to have an opinion, but it is another, to be arrogant because of facts you cant influence. The fact that he is older and has another point of view on this world, doesnt invalidate this view. It just shows you, that there is no truth at all, and there is not one single point of view that is exactly the same. Dont deny individuality in believing, that there is one “true point of view.”

    | |
  8. Zorgon

    This is one of the most nonsensical articles I’ve seen on this site. Seriously? One of the greatest photographers of all time dissed because he points out that selfies are a passing fad? And your legacy will be…?

    | |
  9. Jtes

    Seriously , you’re offended because Bailey predicted the demise of the selfie?

    | |
  10. Nick

    I agree with David Bailey. People will always take self portraits (and always have), but this hype will die out, and there will be another craze.
    Don’t agree with the author about Instagram losing all of its 32 Mil. users. The people I follow on instragram share pictures of interesting things in their lives: friends, family, pets, landscapes, etc. Flicking through Instagram as I write this, I’ve found two “selfies” in the last 100 weeks.
    (Plenty of portraits, but no “selfies”)
    Just my opinion. we’ll see in 6-12 months…

    | |
  11. Vlad

    Dude said one thing, his opinion. How you’ve deduced he’s a terrifying “honey badger…” and spun a small article from it, I’m not sure

    | |