Beatles Cover Photographer Robert Freeman Passes Away At 82
With The Beatles album cover by Robert Freeman - The Beatles / Youtube
Longtime Beatles photographer Robert Freeman has passed away at the age of 82.
Freeman was spotted by the iconic Beatles manager Brian Epstein from his work on the British paper, The Sunday Times. He was hired by Epstein to take a group portrait of the band in 1963. This resulted in a long working relationship between him and the band, conceptualizing covers and shoots for multiple albums. In his own book The Beatles: A Private View, Freeman reminisced the moment of how his first cover shot for the band (Meet The Beatles or With The Beatles) came to be.
“Since the photograph was needed urgently, I had to improvise a studio situation in the hotel. The dining room was the most suitable location. There was a broad side light from the windows and a deep maroon curtain that could be pulled behind them to create a dark background. They came down at midday wearing their black polo-necked sweaters. It seemed natural to photograph them in black-and-white wearing their customary dark clothes. It gave unity to the image. There was no makeup, hairdresser or stylist–just myself, the Beatles and a camera,” he explained.
He got into the details of how the shot was orchestrated, saying, “They had to fit into the square format of the cover, so rather than have them all in a line, I put Ringo in the bottom right corner. He was the last to join the group, he was the shortest and he was the drummer! Even so, he still had to bend his knees to get to the right level–and look natural!”
Freeman’s passing was confirmed on the official social media outlets of the Beatles.
Ringo also took to Twitter to express his condolences.
Paul McCartney dedicated a heartfelt message on his blog as well, which can be read in its full entirety below.
“Dear Robert Freeman has passed away. He was one of our favourite photographers during the Beatles years who came up with some of our most iconic album covers. Besides being a great professional he was imaginative and a true original thinker. People often think that the cover shot for Meet The Beatles of our foreheads in half shadow was a carefully arranged studio shot. In fact it was taken quite quickly by Robert in the corridor of a hotel we were staying in where natural light came from the windows at the end of the corridor. I think it took no more than half an hour to accomplish.
Bob also took the Rubber Soul cover; his normal practice was to use a slide projector and project the photos he’d taken onto a piece of white cardboard which was exactly album sized, thus giving us an accurate idea of how the finished product would look. During his viewing session the card which had been propped up on a small table fell backwards giving the photograph a ‘stretched’ look. Instead of simply putting the card upright again we became excited at the idea of this new version of his photograph. He assured us that it was possible to print it this way and because the album was titled Rubber Soul we felt that the image fitted perfectly.
I will miss this wonderful man but will always cherish the fond memories I have of him.