Linda McCartney

by Chris Duesing

Linda McCartney was a multi-talented and tremendously caring woman. In addition to being heralded as an internationally famous photographer, and voted U.S. Woman Photographer of the Year in 1967, Linda was a musician, animal rights activist, author, business entrepreneur and the wife of famed Beatle, Paul McCartney.

Born on September 24, 1941, Linda Louise Eastman was raised in a Jewish home in New York. She attended Scarsdale High School, graduated in 1959, and went on to Sarah Lawrence College. Afterward, she studied Fine Arts at the University of Arizona.

The Turning Point

During her college years, Linda’s passion for photography sparked and grew. It would become a passion that she would nurture the rest of her life.

Linda’s photography was basically self-taught, with no formal training. She began her career in the sixties, working for the famous Town & Country magazine.

Although she was a receptionist, Linda was invited to attend a Rolling Stones press conference on a yacht on the Hudson River. This would be a turning point in her life. With camera in hand, she eagerly accepted the invitation, and the photos she took that day launched her photographic career. Suddenly her work was in demand and photographic opportunities were abundant.

Linda McCartney Famous Works

Linda moved on to become the house photographer at the famous Fillmore East. Highly respected and in high demand she photographed many legends of the rock-n-roll genre, such as:

Linda McCartney’s photographs stood out, as they captured the true character of the musicians portrayed. Her photography was called, “intimate and respectful,” because she attained that rare balance of honesty and consideration as she spent time with, and photographed, her subjects.

Linda lived in the heart of the music scene, and as she went clubbing she was among her subjects and friends. Paul McCartney once described her as having, “. . . an intense honesty, a rare eye for beauty.”

Linda McCartney’s Sixties: Portrait of an Era, was published in 1992. Celebrating the photography of Linda McCartney, Sixties became an international bestseller. With more than 200 photos reflecting the social and cultural history of the 1960s, the book is an honest, moving and fascinating portrayal of an era. Photographs of musicians include recording sessions, back stage candids, tours and rehearsals.

Growing Fame

As a successful photographer for Rolling Stone magazine, Linda had exhibitions of her photography in more than 50 galleries worldwide, including the famous London Victoria and Albert Museum. It wasn’t until 1967 that Linda’s path crossed Beatles legend Paul McCartney’s. That assignment ultimately led to their marriage two years later.

Linda learned most of her technique through trial and error. In the late 1960s she decided to stop using flood and flash lighting and to use only available light. This reinforced her reputation for honest photographs. With no flash, there was no intrusion. Subjects were seen as they truly were, and their non-posed portraits mirrored the free-spirited wind that blew through the times.

In 1995 Linda McCartney was diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease ended her life at the age of 56, on April 17, 1998. She left behind her loving husband and four children. Linda’s vision is forever memorialized through her moving and brilliant photography. She described her career by saying that she was “…like a band member whose chosen instrument was the camera.”

Further Reading
Chris Duesing
Chris Duesing

I am a photographer, writer, entrepreneur, and programmer living in the great city of Chicago. I love to solve problems with technology and share what I have learned along the way.