Black and white images of a louche model, pensive ballet dancers and a bed with rumpled sheets are at home on the walls of A Gallery for Fine Photography in New Orleans.
In “From the Print Drawer,” photos by Mary McCartney evoke timelessness and an intimacy enhanced by the 19th-century venue, and vice versa. And that’s the point.
“This show came about specifically for this gallery,” said McCartney. “I edited for New Orleans and the gallery in mind.”
McCartney started shooting with a Leica R, given to her by her mother, photographer Linda McCartney, whose iconic work includes a photo of baby Mary nestled in the fur-lined jacket of her father, Paul McCartney, that was used on the back cover of his solo album, “McCartney.”
Paul McCartney’s performance Thursday night at the Smoothie King Center boiled down to four numbers: 76, 2, 45 and 38.
Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, performs at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Thursday night. Daughter Mary will lend a hand with social media.
Mary McCartney says her vision was shaped by the work of her mother, who died in 1998 at 53. Linda McCartney trained her lens on subjects ranging from nature to music to her famous family.
“I grew up loving what she did,” said McCartney, but “I didn’t think of becoming a photographer.”
In her first show at A Gallery for Fine Photography, she is featuring images from throughout her career – hence "from the print drawer."
Some have been in shows before, while others, such as “Bubbles, Babes, Car Wash Fun,” shot on a road trip between New Orleans and Nashville, have not.
The images — some also in color — are all produced on film.
“I feel most comfortable with film,” said McCartney. “I like the painterly quality to it.
“Film keeps you more in the moment. When you shoot digital, you start looking at the camera and the settings. So, while I am looking at it, (you) will be wanting to check it out too.”
Plus, “I am easily distracted,” she admitted.
That’s not to say that she doesn’t shoot digital, or via her phone. But you will most likely see her with a Leica, since she is also a brand ambassador.
McCartney started work in the photo world as a researcher. One of her projects was to look through the archives of her mother.
“It was like looking through a diary,” said McCartney. “The adventures she had been on, and the memories they invoked.”
The experience sparked Mary's own desire to become a photographer. Adding fuel was looking at a friend’s holiday photos. “They were so badly taken,” in contrast with her mother’s.
Her mom gave her the Leica, and Mary started taking photographs.
Around the same time, McCartney was introduced to Ralph Gibson, a photographer whose work evokes a similar intimacy.
“It gave me more confidence,” she said. “With them having a belief in me, I began learning my style and building it up.”
“My style hasn’t really changed since then,” she said.
McCartney likes to travel with minimal equipment, and generally relies on natural light rather than flash or other artificial illumination.
Her first assignment for the English magazine "Frank" was to shadow designer Matthew Williamson in his studio, which was also where he lived at the time.
Subsequent projects include "Off Pointe – A Photographic Study of The Royal Ballet After Hours” and her more recent “Paris Nudes,” nude photos of a woman in her apartment.
Embracing places and people is a trait of McCartney, who greets people not with a handshake but a hug. In addition to her own projects, her open demeanor has landed her assignments such as taking portraits of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Cherie Blair’s newborn son, Leo; and Queen Elizabeth, when she marked being the longest-reigning British monarch.
Of course, she's been out taking photos during her visit to New Orleans, McCartney said. “The thing I love about this city is not planning too much.”
One thing she does have planned, however: taking over her father’s Instagram on Thursday, the night he plays his concert at the Smoothie King Center.
Mary McCartney: From the Print Drawer
A Gallery For Fine Photography, 241 Chartres St.
May 23, 2019 to Aug. 1, 2019