Buy books not gear (3)

It has been a while since my last episode of  “Buy books not gear”. I firmly believe that, by reading good photography books, we can improve our own photography much more than by buying yet another new camera or lens. And with Christmas fast approaching, this post gives you a glimpse into a marvelous coffee table book about the photographic work of Linda McCartney, a life long avid photographer and first wife of Beatle Paul McCartney.

For the book introduction and a few of Linda’s photographs continue after the jump…

Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs 

This book was created as a homage to Linda McCartney’s work as a photographer, created in close collaboration with Paul McCartney and their children. Her body of work consists of spontaneous family snapshots, photos from her  concert photographs, studio shots with Stevie Wonder, Linda’s pictures impress above all with their naturalness and warmth as well as her gift for capturing the essence of the people portrayed.

Born in 1942, Linda grew up in a wealthy New York family. Her father, Lee Eastman, ran a law firm with his brother. Their clients came mainly from the music scene and the fine arts. It was a friend of Linda that kindled her interest in photography.

In 1966 Linda had a job as a receptionist at a little newspaper. As the magazine had once featured the Rolling Stones on its cover, the newspaper was invited by the band’s management to a press reception to celebrate the release of the new album. Since one of her duties as a receptionist was to open all incoming letters without naming the recipient, the invitation and press pass fell into her hands. She put both in her pocket and took this appointment. Since at that time no hotel wanted to accommodate the Rolling Stones for this event, the band had rented a ship. However, this turned out to be too small to accommodate the crowd of reporters and photographers. Therefore the responsible persons decided that the photographers had to stay ashore. Through her persistence, Linda still managed to get on the boat. Her fresh, natural photos of the band turned out much better than the stiff pictures of the official photographer. This was her breakthrough, and she made a name for herself as a rock ‘n’ roll photographer.

Two years later, in May 1968, she became the first female photographer whose work appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with a portrait of Eric Clapton. Her images included portraits of Aretha Franklin, Grace Slick, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton, Simon & Garfunkel, The Who, The Doors, The Animals, John Lennon and Neil Young and were soon in high demand. Linda Eastman gave up her work as a receptionist and became a freelance photographer.

Linda first met Paul McCartney 1967 in London where she photographed the Beatles at the presentation of the Sergeant Peppers Album. Paul and Linda fell in love and got married in 1969. For the next three decades, until her early death from breast cancer in 1998, Linda devoted herself to her family and photography and was a fierce advocate of animal rights.

From her early rock portraits to the last years of the Beatles to her role as a mother of four children, Linda has always captured her life on film. The variety of her work ranges from candid family snapshots of Paul and they rchildre to studio shots with celebrities like Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Her photographs radiate warmth and testify to a feeling for the right moment that captures the essence of each subject. Whether she photographed her children, celebrities, still lives, animals or fleeting everyday situations, she did it with an eye for composition and in a totally natural and unposed way.

I find her work full of inspiration. Not only her fantastic portrait work or her ability to capture the essence of family life, but also her shooting everyday street scenes. I’m especially fond of her black & white work with strong compositions and subtle shadows, silhouettes and textures.

I discovered Linda McCartney via an advertisement in a photography magazine for an exhibition of her work in Germany this past spring. The Significant Other and I had planned to go there, but the exhibitions was canceled due to the Spring Covid-induced lockdown before we had a chance to go. Instead I decided to invest in this marvelous coffee table book published by Taschen that is a great retrospective of her work. A great Christmas present for anyone interested in photography and for those who take inspirations from studying the masters.

All images in this post (except the first and the last) are by Linda McCartney and taken out of the book for the purpose of this review. This review reflects my personal view of this book that I bought for myself. There is no commercial interest associated with this review in any way.

I hope you liked this new episode of my series “Buy books not gear”.

If you look for tips and inspirations around photography, check out my free Learning Center. Here, I will also post the links to this and all future book reviews.

Wish you a great Monday!


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19 thoughts on “Buy books not gear (3)

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  1. What a great find your post is! I had no idea she was a photographer — and a creative one at that. I love your recommendation, too: don’t buy more equipment, just read how to improve your craft. Thanks. I needed that!

  2. Her exhibition has just finished here in Liverpool. I was fortunate to go and see it i a few months back. Like you guys, i didn’t realise how good a photographer she was. She did a lot of work in the 60s with the Stones. Her work looks stunning on gallery walls. Especially the Scottish landscapes. Quite a few of the family pictures were also taken here on the Wirral which was nice to see. And Paul still has a home here and is spotted walking around our beaches occassionally.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Linda, Ian, so much appreciated! So great you got to see the exhibition of her work! Cool that Paul is still around Liverpool! What a creative duo they were, Paul and Linda! Stay safe! Marcus

  3. Great post! Another book by Linda McCartney worth checking out is ‘Sun Prints’ – some absolutely stunning photos printed using sunlight and minerals and salts. She was an excellent photographer and her experimental work is superb.

  4. I have had a Chance to see her work in an exhibition in a Glasgow Museum end of 2018. Her work deeply impressed me….especially her family portraits and lovely captures of her horses in the midst of blooming meadows. Chapeau!

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