Mary McCartney takes beautifully candid photographs of people going about their everyday lives. McCartney makes it seem almost accidental that some of these people happen to be Hollywood A-listers and pop music royalty. In December, Mary launched her latest duet of books, Monochrome & Colour. This publication charts her career- she has been taking photographs for it for over twenty years. It has recently been shaped by Mary’s use of social media- she is at the forefront of using these new tools to fuel her artistic projects. Monochrome & Colour displays Mary's flair for breaking down the barriers of celebrity and treating all of her subjects as if she’d just bumped into them on the street.
Monochrome & Colour throws conventional photography rules out of the window. For starters, there is no discernible ‘theme’ of the book- it is simply an invitation for the viewer to perceive the world through McCartney’s eyes. McCartney also shows a disregard for formal composition or technique- a homage to her self-taught, instinctive approach to the medium. McCartney’s real interest is the ability to tell a story within an image. In her own words: “None of the pictures have a title or a date […] because I thought it distracted too much from the atmosphere of each image”. Monochrome & Colour are two books, companions to each other, one in black and white, the other in full colour.
Aside from publishing books, Mary’s on-going projects include #somone. Mary photographs people she happens upon in day-to-day life with her IPhone. She describes the process: “I’m always looking and watching people and how they behave and wondering how they got where they are. I find it quite emotional.” Mary then shares the photographs with over 30,000 followers via her Instagram account. The only caption to the image is #someone, and she deliberately does not reply to comments from her admirers. “I kind of like to think the viewer is filling in their own gaps and making up part of their own story about the pictures. I like the sense of mystery.”
Like it or not, most people can’t hear the name McCartney without immediately thinking of her famous family. Mary embraces this, channelling her friends and relations into her work. Her photographs of famous people are reminiscent of her #someone collection, portraying intimate stories. She strips away the artificial glamour of celebrity, shedding new light on some of the world’s best-known faces. Monochrome & Colour features a photograph of singer Rihanna, backstage at Wembley. Mary loves it “because you can’t tell it’s her but it still has her sexiness, energy and physical strength". McCartney’s ability to capture the essence of her subject without even showing their face displays an incredible understanding of how to truly connect with people through a lens.
One of Mary’s greatest inspirations is her mother, photographer Linda. In May 1968, Linda Eastman became the first female photographer to feature on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, with a portrait of Eric Clapton. Linda clearly passed down the talent of portraying pop royalty. In Mary’s own words: “In my late teens and early twenties I didn't know what I wanted to do. Then I worked with my mum on her archives and contact sheets”. Mary’s artistic fate was sealed from that point on. One of Mary’s most moving works is a portrait of her sister Stella cuddling up to Linda. This represents a family snapshot with intense emotional depth, which Mary was confident enough to send out into the public domain.
“I just love capturing those moments that we so rarely share or see in other people”. With these words, Mary sums up her organic approach to capturing any person she sees. Whether someone is a fruit-seller, or a sold-out festival performer, Mary captures their warmth, energy and humanity.
To view Mary’s #someone project, go to: http://instagram.com/maryamccartney