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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Beatles Photographer ~ Astrid Kirchherr

Astrid Kirchherr is best known for her photographs of the Beatles during the early Hamburg days and for her association with the Beatles' original bass player, Stuart Sutcliffe whom she was later engaged to before his death in 1962.  Kirchherr rode with Sutcliffe in an ambulance after he collapsed one day due to a brain heaemorrage, but he died in her arms before it reached the hospital. He was just 21 years old.

self portrait

Astrid with her Leica

George, John and the "Fifth Beatle" Stuart in the middle

Astrid with Lennon and Ringo
Sutcliffe and John Lennon are credited with coming up with the name "The Beatles"

Astrid self portrait with Stuart Sutcliffe
Sutcliffe, the James Dean of the Beatles
 Stuart Sutcliffe
 Astrid & Stuart Sutcliffe
 Stuart Sutcliffe earned praise for his paintings, which mostly explored a style related to abstract expressionismHe enrolled in the Hamburg College of Art after leaving The Beatles, and studied under future pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi.

Stuart Sutcliffe and George Harrison in Hamburg
Kirchherr admits that she is not good at business as she is not organized enough, and has never really looked after the negatives of her photographs to prove ownership. Her business partner Ulf Krüger—a songwriter and record producer—successfully found many of Astrid's negatives and photographs and had them copyrighted, although he believes that Kirchherr has lost more than £500,000 over the years because of people using her photographs without permission.

Kirchherr's work has been exhibited internationally in places, such as Hamburg, Bremen, London, Liverpool, New York City, Washington, D.C., Tokyo, Vienna, and at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Kirchherr worked as an advisor, in 1994, on the film Backbeat, which portrayed Kirchherr, Sutcliffe and The Beatles during their early days in Hamburg. She was impressed with Stephen Dorff (who played Sutcliffe in the film) commenting that he was the right age (19-years-old at the time) and his gestures, the way he smoked, and talked were so like Sutcliffe's that she had goose bumps. 

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