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Look Again: The Autobiography Reviews

Look Again: The Autobiography by David Bailey

Look Again: The Autobiography

David Bailey

3.36 out of 5

6 reviews

Imprint: Macmillan
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 29 Oct 2020
ISBN: 9781509896820

The extraordinary, riotous life of iconic photographer David Bailey - from the Second World War to the Swinging Sixties, from Eighties excess to the present day.

  • The TimesBook of the Week
3 stars out of 5
Melanie Reid
28 Oct 2020

"These tales are fun for a while, but become tiresome"

 The book is the work of the co-writer, Fox, responsible for Life, the bestselling autobiography of Keith Richards, using interviews with Bailey, who says he hasn’t read it. So you can hear his authentic voice, but you also cannot escape the deafening emptiness at the book’s heart, which is Bailey’s total lack of self-awareness or self-reflection, even at the age of 82. He remains narcissistic, sexist and competitive to the end. “My basic attitude to children [he now has three], and to marriage, is that it’s nothing to do with me.” Great photographer, though.


4 stars out of 5
5 Dec 2020

"It’s extremely enjoyable."

Then came the 1970s, when nothing seemed new any more. As he got older, Bailey made brilliant ads, became rich, had affairs and marriages with more women, including Catherine Deneuve, Marie Helvin, Penelope Tree, Anjelica Huston and lots of others. His secret, I think, is that he comes across as utterly self-possessed and mysterious. In the end this book is about the way things are, and the way the mind pictures them, and the difference between the two. It’s extremely enjoyable.

4 stars out of 5
Tim Adams
2 Nov 2020

"Bailey’s ghostwriter, makes what could be an exercise in self-mythology something far more raw and surprising"

There is much that you might feel you know already in this book, but what lifts it above the familiar are the recorded segments in which we hear Bailey test his memory against some of the people he has been closest to – not only Shrimpton, but also his ex-wives, Catherine Deneuve and Marie Helvin, current wife, Catherine Dyer, and many more friends and lovers. In this way James Fox, Bailey’s ghostwriter, makes what could be an exercise in self-mythology something far more raw and surprising (in this sense, the book makes a worthy successor to Fox’s last efforts as a “ghost” for Keith Richards’s Life). At times he gives full rein to Bailey’s unreconstructed cockney persona, but eavesdropping on him in the company of old friends and old lovers, we also hear him confront and examine some more complex drivers of his priapic creativity.

4 stars out of 5
Lynn Barber
31 Oct 2020

"a monstrous narcissist – and so compelling"

He never wanted children, but she produced three eventually and brought them up with very little help from him (he changed a nappy once) on their farm on the edge of Dartmoor. Fox, in another masterstroke, assembles Catherine and the children so that Bailey can tell them yet again how marriage and children are “nothing to do with me”. He is a monster – but oh, such a compelling one.

3 stars out of 5
Fiona Sturges
29 Oct 2020

"Juicy anecdotes, a huge amount of sex and stories of the Krays … but the photographer’s memoir reveals a narcissist and bully"

The most illuminating parts of Look Again come when Bailey zooms in on his work. In fashion photography, it wasn’t the clothes that made an image great, he says, “it’s what comes across from the girl”. For portraits, simplicity is key – no props, just the closest of closeups. “The intensity comes from concentrating on them, nothing else … I fall in love with people when I photograph them for that 15 minutes or half-hour; they become the whole centre of the universe. On a superficial level. They get up and leave after that.”

3 stars out of 5
Jackie Annesley
25 Oct 2020

"Every page of celebrity photographer David Bailey’s memoir reeks of testosterone in his unfiltered look back at his career"

Nevertheless, it’s his unfiltered view of the celebrities he met and photographed over 60 years that provide some of the book’s best lines. Peter Sellers? “A f***ing bore.” Yves Saint Laurent? “Stoned most of the time, on smack.” Anjelica Huston? “A great mimic.” Mother Teresa? “A tough old bitch.” Marie Helvin, his third wife? “Best body I ever saw.” Princess Diana? “No great beauty” with “terrible posture”.