Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64 Eyes of the Storm, National Portrait Gallery, London

It was with some trepidation this morning that I entered the National Portrait Gallery to see an exhibition of photographs taken by Paul McCartney. Would going to a Paul McCartney photographic exhibition be a bit like going to a Linda McCartney pop concert?

The photos in question cover a relatively short but important period in McCartney’s life and the emergence of The Beatles as they begin to conquer the US. McCartney only relatively recently discovered these pictures and decided to put them on display. Turns out though that he must have been slightly careless with them as quite a number were enlarged from the contact sheets rather than the negatives.

The pictures were well composed and, perhaps more importantly, covered the human aspect of touring with the biggest band in the world very well with a series of intimate, behind-the-scenes images. This included one set of pictures in Miami which showed McCartney on a day off with a woman who was described as “his Miami date” making her sound like some sort of escort!

The exhibition went from them playing in the UK where all the images were black and white to them going to Florida in the US where it was sunny and bright and the pictures were in colour!

Like most modern exhibitions it was very well curated. I particularly liked that where McCartney had taken pictures of photographers who were travelling with the band the exhibition included pictures by said photographer of the band. This included the photographer that had done the cover for With the Beatles which was taken in a hotel in Bournemouth.

It was an interesting look back at how times have changed in a relatively short space of time and showed that McCartney is a decent photographer.

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