Dorset photographer David Bailey on celebrities, books – and hares

DORSET’S multi-award winning photographer, David Bailey, tells all about his career, hares, and a Westminster invitation from Ranulph Fiennes…

Nature has always been important to 65-year-old David Bailey. But he did not become interested in photography until later in his life.

“I served an apprenticeship as an engineer, but I wanted a fresh start so I moved to the Brecon Beacons, in Wales,” he said.

“Photography wasn’t even on the horizon, but I thought the place was beautiful so I picked up a camera.”

His mother’s family hailed from the New Forest, so he was grounded in nature, and began to explore the Brecon Beacons as an adult and built some strong friendships, particularly with his biggest cheerleader, Janet.

“We literally just kept bumping into each other, she kept telling me I should go pro, and two years later I won the 2011 Welsh Wildlife Photographer Award.

“It changed everything.”

This shot of otters fighting won the Welsh Wildlife Photographic Award in 2011. Picture: David Bailey

This shot of otters fighting won the Welsh Wildlife Photographic Award in 2011. Picture: David Bailey

Following his win, opportunities kept presenting themselves to David.

The wildlife presenter, Rhys Jones, gave David his business card and encouraged him to get in touch with any possible news stories.

“I didn’t think anything of it, but six months later I found a barn owl and thought he might be interested,” David said.

“I contacted Rhys, he put me onto his producer, and they invited me to be on screen.

“I’d never been on camera in any respects.”

The story took a day to cover and was placed on the main BBC website. This accelerated his career.

He went on to appear on BBC’s Springwatch, ITV’s Coast and Country, and served as a consultant on Wildlife Patrol.

And in 2016, he won a Brand Laureate Award alongside Adele and Keanu Reeves.

Despite his success, David speaks very humbly: “I was persuaded to write a book in 2017 called Wildlife Wanderer.”

He has the air of someone who can’t quite believe the opportunities he’s been given. When the rich and famous get in touch, he’s quick to check they hadn’t meant to contact the renowned artist – and photographer – David Bailey.

“A year and a half ago I received an email from Sir Ranulph Fiennes,” David went on. “I said, ‘You do know who I am?’ and he said, ‘Yes, we want to hear what you have to think’.”

They invited David to Westminster to use his expertise in regards to a big game hunting bill.

“I was sat there in a meeting with all these celebrities and MPs and me,” he explained.

David with Sir Ranulph Fiennes

David with Sir Ranulph Fiennes

With all these great opportunities coming his way, David doesn’t neglect the photography which started it all.

“My favourite subject is hares,” he said. “You don’t chase it, you must get to know your subject; the location, its favourite areas.

“You pick a spot and you wait. It’s all luck, patience, and most importantly, preparation.”

David began his career exhibiting at events like the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show, something that is becoming increasingly less viable for photographers.

“I don’t exhibit any longer. I hate to think how anyone can start nowadays – you don’t sell photos,” he added. “I only post low resolution photos online, just to get the feedback for my talks.”

Bad Hare Day

Bad Hare Day

These talks are his primary stream of income, sharing his story and wildlife information with specialist groups and the general public.

It began 14 years ago when the Crai Camera Club in the Brecon Beacons asked if he could give a talk, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“I’ve been all over, from small village halls to huge pavilions – Bath pavilion fits over 600 people. The knowledge ordinary people have is brilliant, they often know more than the experts.”

David Bailey currently lives in Winterbourne Abbas and is working on his third book.

To book David for a talk, visit his website,

You can also find information about individual pictures for sale, and signed copies of his latest book, Wildlife Wanderings.

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