Beatles photographer Robert Freeman dies

Robert Freeman, the British photographer and graphic designer who shot the cover images for several early Beatles albums, has died.

Tributes to Freeman, 82, were led by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

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.

Thanks Bob.

Love Paul

Uncropped, undistorted Rubber Soul cover photograph by Robert Freeman

Uncropped, undistorted Rubber Soul cover photograph by Robert Freeman

Freeman was the photographer for five of The Beatles’ first six UK albums: With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale, Help!, and Rubber Soul.

He also took the cover shots for the UK EPs All My Loving, Long Tall Sally, Extracts From The Album A Hard Day’s Night, Extracts From The Film A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale, and Beatles for Sale No. 2.

Freeman’s first photography session with The Beatles was, appropriately, for the With The Beatles album. It was shot on 22 August 1963 at the Palace Court Hotel in Bournemouth, England.

The boys liked the idea and the session was set up for noon the following day in the hotel dining room. The large windows let in a bright sidelight and the dark maroon velvet curtains were pulled round as a backdrop… We decided to use the black turtleneck sweaters which they wore at the time, to keep the picture simple.
Robert Freeman

The iconic shot was achieved using just natural light. Freeman was paid £75 for his work, rather than the £25 originally proposed by EMI.

With The Beatles outtake by Robert Freeman

Freeman also shot the cover photographs for John Lennon’s books In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works, as well as designing their interiors.

Last updated: 11 November 2019
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