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The Globe and Mail

Mary McCartney: Behind (and in front of) the lens

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Mary McCartney, left, comes from a famous family, including former Beatle and dad Paul and fashion designer sister Stella. ‘We are close and we hang out quite a lot so we bounce ideas off each other,’ Mary says of her relationship with Stella.

MATT DUNHAM/The Associated Press

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The McCartney family, in addition to Paul, left, and Mary, includes her brother James. He’s often the subject of Mary’s photography experiments. ‘He’s got a great sense of humour, and in the past he’s sort of performed well for me before the camera, so I’ve got a lot of nice photographs of him over the years but quite quirky, which I like, they make me smile,’ Mary says.

MATT DUNHAM/The Associated Press

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Linda McCartney was not only Mary’s mother but an influence on her photography. ‘I think that in her photographic style she would take pictures that looked really easy to take and really simple,’ Mary says. ‘She didn’t do a lot of big lights and fancy stuff around it. But she would get very intimate, relaxed photographs. She could get her subjects to really, really relax in front of her, and she used a lot of available light situations. So in a way the pictures look quite casual but they are capturing very important moments, so I think that has really influenced me, because that is something that I like to do.’


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One of Mary McCartney’s big breaks as a photographer came when she was commissioned by former British prime minister Tony Blair to photograph his newborn son Leo, who was just 36 hours old, in 2000.


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Tony Blair and his wife Cherie brought Mary McCartney in to photograph their son, Leo, in 2000 as a pre-emptive move against the paparazzi, Mary says. Blair was the sitting British prime minister at the time and the shoot took place at Downing Street, with all the press waiting outside. ‘It kind of had an excitement to it,’ Mary says.


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Having a famous father like Paul always meant Mary McCartney was surrounded by celebrities growing up. Among the many famous people that McCartney has photographed is singer Marianne Faithfull, a major pop star in the 1960s, now a grandmother.

Mary McCartney

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