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July 3, 2020

Instagram Before It Was Cool: Candid Polaroids by Linda McCartney Reveal an Intimate Glimpse Into a Beatle’s Family Life

An intimate selection of Polaroid photographs taken by Linda McCartney, the late wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, has been collected by TASCHEN to create book Linda McCartney: The Polaroid Diaries.

Taken from the early 1970s until the mid-1990s –– Linda sadly passing away from breast cancer in 1998 –– interspersed portraits, still lifes, and interior compositions affirm Linda’s bold eye for pattern, texture, color, and an elegant use of light. The photographs focus on her distinctive way of seeing the world through charming and quirky portraits of Paul and the couple’s four children. We see them pulling faces and in matching pyjamas. Rare moments include son James pouring water on himself, and Mary and Stella playing dress-up. There’s dancing, eating, horse riding, and countless moments of everyday life on their farm in Southern England.

The images, seemingly random, are flawlessly composed, revealing a unique artistic sensibility. As Paul says in the introduction:
“She would just see things. Many of her photos, it’s just that one click. You’ve got to recognise when a great photo is happening in front of you. And then you’ve got to snap it at exactly the right moment… And she did that so many times that it always impressed me.”
These “right” moments also feature some landscapes across Scotland and Arizona, as well as the odd celebrity, as the likes of Steve McQueen and Adam Ant wander into the frame. Other pictures attest to her love of animals, with compassionate images of cats, lambs, horses, and hens. It’s a pre-Instagram glimpse into the life of an extraordinary family, a celebration of Linda’s legacy as a fiercely committed artist and of the instant magic of Polaroid film.

(Photos by Linda McCartney, © TASCHEN / Paul McCartney)


  1. If you didn't know who they were you'd never guess he was one of the biggest stars of the day. The trappings of success were a lot more subtle back then.




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