Mary McCartney, daughter of a Beatle, follows her mother into photography

The daughter of Paul McCartney is on a mission to photograph inspirational women

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 December, 2015, 5:55pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 December, 2015, 5:55pm

Mary McCartney is the daughter of Beatles frontman Paul McCartney and is also a highly acclaimed photographer and cookbook author. She recently collaborated with jewellery brand De Beers to photograph inspirational women for its latest campaign.

“With my photography I’m looking to find moments in life that I can capture to allow the viewer to lose themselves in their own personal thoughts as they are looking at my image. My style is intimate, candid and collaborative. I want my work to showcase the truth – a moment when something is given up. This cannot be staged or faked, but only searched for.

My mum was a photographer, so I feel it was in my blood. She had a wonderful, gentle approach to her portrait work that I have been influenced by. My first camera was a Leica given to me by her when I was in my early 20s. I still use it today.

When it comes to choosing projects I tend to look for a collaboration that is right for the client and makes sense with my style of photography. For instance, the recent De Beers Moments in Light project was a great fit because the concept revolved around my capturing personal portraits of truly inspirational women which made it a really relevant project for me to be involved in.

A good photographer should be able to observe and allow space for the unplanned to happen, and to be excited by that. And to know how to use your camera, so it is your friend. Really, the challenge for me is photographing people and capturing the moment they relax in front of the camera. You’ve got to work yourself into a scene, me first, then the camera. My aim is to gain my subject’s trust so they can let down their barriers.

Fashion photography tends to be less spontaneous than portrait photography, but I really enjoy both. A lot of my work has been observing life, from my angle. My proudest achievements are my books, including Monochrome and Colour, as that involved my editing through all of my photography to find images that tell the story of how passionate I am about capturing spontaneous images that have a feeling of narrative within them.

Anything can interest me – a person, an animal, shadow or a landscape. I like an overall concept, not just people wearing clothes.

When I photographed [architect] Zaha Hadid for the Moments in Light De Beers Project, we were invited to use her design showroom as the location. Being around her designs and photographing her was really fulfilling, she has a very bright smile and really bright eyes. We got on really well together and she was very welcoming.

I’m a big fan of Diane Arbus – she was just so brave. And of course my mother, Linda McCartney, a true artist and someone who inspires me every day. I’d describe myself as someone who appreciates the women throughout history who have allowed us to define what a modern woman is and how a modern woman lives.

When I’m not behind the lens I love riding horses. I learned to ride as a child, the hard way; being bucked off my pony, who would then run home, leaving me to walk the rest of the way ! I soon learned to hold on. Now riding is my obsession. Peaceful and a wonderful, elevated perspective. My favourite moments are riding with my family.”