Skip to main content

The #1 tip to take a great photo? Comfy shoes, says David Bailey

David Bailey Look Again
(Image credit: Macmillan)

One of the all-time great photographers, David Bailey, was asked for his number one tip for taking a great photograph. His answer? It's gotta be the shoes.

"I don’t know, really. I suppose it gets down, it’s basic – it’s comfortable shoes. As long as your shoes are comfortable, the rest of you is quite comfortable. So, comfortable shoes."

• Read more: 50 best photographers ever

The icon was being interviewed about about his new book, Look Again, which is an autobiography offering an eye-opening and candid look at the "outrageously eventful life" of one of the most influential photographers of the Sixties, and indeed of all time.

This is the first time that the 83-year-old Bailey has produced a memoir. "This is the first biography I’ve ever done. Probably the last. It’s taken me 83 years to get to this stage of my life, so it’s about time I committed myself."

Ghost-written by James Fox (who also penned Life, the autobiography of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards), the book is a fascinating look back at Bailey's past adventures and misadventures – and, notably, features the first time that the photographer and his famous muse, Jean Shrimpton, collectively share and discuss their influential history. 

In promoting the book, Bailey gave an interview to British retailer Waterstones where he discussed a number of subjects, including how photography has changed since he started. 

"I don’t think photography’s changed, I think people’s attitude to the camera has changed. People are much more used to the camera now; years ago when I first started, if you said you were going to photograph somebody, they’d put on their best clothes, and have their hair combed, and they’d have a brush down. And it was an event to have your picture taken. 

"Now it’s just something that happens every day. I mean every day someone’s photographing something with an iPhone. So I think the thing that’s changed photography more than anything is the iPhone."

He also shared that the historical figures he would most like to have photographed are Che Guevara, Marilyn Monroe and Julius Caesar – a name that's not often mentioned when photographers are asked this weathered old question.

Look Again by David Bailey is available now in paperback or hardback from $26.00 /  £20.00. 

Read more: 

The best books on photography for beginners and pros
The best books on fashion photography
The best books on portrait photography
The best coffee table books on photography

James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James started working in the photographic industry in 2014 as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy – successor to David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus. In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus. An Olympus and Canon user, James was previously technique editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine.