david bailey: east end woman, 1960s london

bailey east end woman
From the Guardian’s series ‘my best shot,’ David Bailey tells the story behind this photo, taken around 1961:

The shot’s a statement on the social climate at the time – and at any time really. I was living in the East End in the 60s, which was probably more of a nightmare than living there through the war.

[ … ]

I sort of remember the day. But there were lots of days like it. I’d spend maybe eight hours taking pictures round the East End. I wasn’t just mindlessly clicking away, though. I’d think about things: you have to. I’m not one of those photographers who doesn’t know what he’s doing, so takes hundreds of pictures in the hope there’s one good one. I do one click then move on. By the look of the picture, it was quite sunny – the reflection wouldn’t have been as strong otherwise. I prefer London in the rain, though. I just find it so beautiful.

I started shooting in the East End because it was where I was from. I lived there all through the blitz. When I was about three and a half, the flat next door was flattened, so we had to move from Leytonstone to East Ham. I was six and a half when the war ended and quite used to bombsites by then. I’ve never let myself be limited by my background, though.

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