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"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. I lived with cannibals for a week and I lived with the Krays for two. That didn’t mean I became a gangster or ate people.
I still walk around the East End. It’s not just about taking pictures there. It’s part of my life. And I can’t think of any reason to stop doing what I do.
The idea for a book on the East End formed sometime in the 1980s. The London Docks had already closed down or were starting to. I chose to shoot mainly in the districts of Silvertown and Canning Town. I have over the years spent many weekends shooting whatever took my fancy. The other two times I had bursts of photographic energy in the East End were in the 1960s and from about 2004 to 2010. These were my three key periods to draw pictures from, instead of just trolling through the last fifty years of archives. In the late 1940s and early 1950s I heard a quote on the radio, ‘Go west, young man.’ At the time I didn’t give it much thought. Later I assumed it was from America and that it went back to the middle of the nineteenth century, when America’s west coast was opening up to great wealth and opportunities."
About the photographer:
David Bailey is one of the most renowned contemporary british photographers. His other photobooks published by Steidl include Havana (2006), NY JS DB 62 (2007), Is That So Kid (2008), Eye (2009), 8 Minutes (2009), and Flowers, Skulls, Contacts (2010).
Published in September 2014 by Steidl Verlag, Göttingen
26 x 33 cm