The moody black and white photos of Astrid Kirchherr are my earliest memory of being interested in photography as an art. My family had always had cameras and had always taken photos. I have boxes full of holiday snaps and family events going back to the 1920s. I even have some negatives that my Grandfather took during World War One (yes, One). When I manage to find the right box and remove it from storage, I’ll post a photo of the much-travelled old Kodak.
But Astrid’s photographs were more than holiday snaps, they contained emotion, they conveyed something to me. The first images I saw were of The Beatles in their early days. This series, taken in Hamburg; inspired my interest in black and white photography and has shaped the way I think people should be photographed.
Astrid photographed the group and individual members many times in the early ‘60s but by 1967 had virtually given up photography entirely. It was difficult to make a living as a female professional photographer in the 1960s and this was compounded by the fame she had gained from photographing The Beatles.
“They (magazines) wouldn’t look at my other work. It was very hard for a girl photographer in the 60s to be accepted. In the end I gave up. I’ve hardly taken a photo since 1967”, she said.
It is a shame because I would love to know how Astrid’s work would have developed over time.
I am very pleased to have two of Astrid’s photographs on my wall, both signed. Nearly fifty years after they were taken, they still remind me just how effective black and white photography can be.
Some photos from the Hamburg series:
These reduced, scanned images do not do the originals justice, unfortunately.
Some slightly better scans are here at the Silver K gallery site:
The last information I have about Astrid is that, along with Ulf Kruger, she owns a bookshop (K&K) in Hamburg.