Meet Elly Bailey - a London based photographer, journalist, and promoter.
You might know her as the founder of Why Generation?, which she brought to live in September 2019 after being inspired by a photography exhibition. It was intending it to be one issue only, but the love for what she was doing kept her inspired to keep going and expanding Why Generation? to what it is today.
Bumping into each other at gigs and booking her for her impeccable photography skills (, it was time to have a chat with her about how it all started for her, being a female in the music biz and the impact of the pandemic on her work and daily life.
How did it all start for you? How was your journey to what you do now?
It's such a cliché thing to say but growing up I always was the bit of the odd one out, I never conformed to what was considered the social norm, especially at my school, and would stomp around in my docs, with bleached hair and listening to music way to loud. I always knew that I wanted to work in music or events but I wasn't 100% sure what and going to university at The Academy of Contemporary Music to do a Music Business degree really helped me to find my feet, and also find people who were interested in the same things as me. And it was while I was at ACM that I discovered a love for photography and photographing bands, I guess I just carried on from there!
Any mentors/ people you look for inspiration?
There's a lot of artists and photographers who I look for, for inspiration, for example Alexander McQueen, the photographer David Bailey, Don Mucullin and more. There are thousands of artists in the world, and it's looking at what these people did, how they did things differently to make history, that I find really inspiring. It makes you look at your own work and think okay, how can this cause an impact?
How does a typical day look in the life of Elly Bailey?
It really depends, as I don't have a 9-5 job, each day for me looks very different. I normally make a list the day before of all the things I need to do the following day, for example I may have a review I need to type up, an interview to conduct, photos to edit, I may be going to my part time job, it's always changing. One thing that is typical in my everyday life is waking up to tons of PR emails, so I always take time to go through them and flag anyone's that catch my eye.
I bet the pandemic must have been very challenging for you – how did it change your line of work? How are you staying motivated through all of this?
Before Covid-19 I was the assistant manager of a nightclub, so as you can probably guess that is not my job anymore. We stopped receiving furlough in July 2020 and from that point onwards I had to figure out a new plan. But in a weird way I am grateful that I was forced to leave my comfort zone of the job I'd been in for two years, I think without that push I would probably still be there, not really going into anything else. But of course, it has been stressful as heck, trying to figure out a new job and how to pay rent during a pandemic, but not impossible.
It also meant I had to change my area of photography which has always been live music and events, as there haven't been events in months I ended up really working on my photography and editing skills and have managed to find freelance work doing photoshoots which I love.
You worked with a lot of artists/bands – who and what is your most memorable experience so far?
Probably interviewing Jack Jones of Trampolene. I was at a service station somewhere between Manchester and London and got phoned by Caffy at The Zine with her asking if I could go interview Jack in the next couple days, and I think because it was so unexpected and also such a great opportunity, it made it really special. Also he is the loveliest man in the world, and the piece that I wrote came out so well.
Do you think the music industry should intervene with measures like quotas to create a more balanced industry? Is there a better way?
It's hard to say, because say there was a quota for a festival such as Reading Festival, which is typically very male dominated, that there had to be this amount of female artists on the line up, there's a potential it could lead to the artists getting booked feeling like maybe they were only picked because the quota needed to be filled, rather then the booking actually wanting them there. It's sensitive topic, and I do think a big thing that would help it is all these bookers who claim there aren't enough female acts out there, to actually get off their fucking office chair and actually go to some gigs and maybe then they would find out about all these incredible musicians who deserve the opportunity.
Unfortunately we are hit by these awful stories about predatory behaviour within the music industry esp towards young women - Have you experienced situations where you feel you were treated as a lesser artist simply because of your gender? What advice would you give young females who just start out?
Ahhh, there's definitely been a few annoyingly. Getting shoved out the way by male photographers when you're all in the photo pit at a gig really bugs me, because everyone is there for the same reason, to photograph the musician, there's no photography hierarchy, so why act like you deserve a better place to stand? (Or just ask politely rather then shoving...). 
Also, the club night I worked at, as it took place in a venue, it required everyone in the venue to work together so we could all be informed and make sure everything was done efficiently and quickly. Which in theory sounds easy, but if there had been a gig on and I asked the stage crew about what time they would finish packing down, a simple question I would tend to get met with "go away little go, go stand over there little girl", which was unbelievably infuriating, especially when a security guard would then go over, ask the same question and get an immediate response. It's unhelpful and unnecessary behaviour and to be honest makes that person look completely ignorant.
If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
Invisibility, because you could sneak into anywhere! Any sold out gig, any no access areas, you could do whatever you wanted.
What is the first thing you want to do once all the restrictions are lifted?
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