jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG 12th July 2020
CORONABOBS ISOLATION DAY 1110 – Diary of a Self-Isolator Friday 10th July 2020
The trouble with being my age is that there is always the death notice an obituary being published for someone you admire and feel was immensely talented.
Today it happens to be photographer Fiona Adams.
This is her obituary written by Colin Smith from the Guardian.
In April 1963 the photographer Fiona Adams took a picture with her old twin-lens Rolleiflex that more than 40 years later Terence Pepper, the curator of the National Portrait Gallery’s photographic collection, would describe as “one of the defining images of 20th-century culture”.
It records a moment during a visit that four young men in dark suits and fancy footwear made to one of London’s surviving wartime bombsites. This one was at the junction of Euston Road and Gower Street and its crater was still half-filled with calcified rubble. As instructed, the four positioned themselves a little behind the edge of the crater. Then, at Fiona’s command, they jumped as high as they could.
“I didn’t even think to check whether it was safe or not,” the photographer told her friend Lynne Ashton, who recorded her vivid memories of the sharp end of swinging London. “I struggled down into the crater with my heavy camera case. There was a pile of fallen bricks and detritus at the bottom. The boys did their bit and stood patiently – beautifully silhouetted against the sky and the buildings. I set up my camera and shouted: “One, two, three – jump!” And they jumped – twice. Cuban heels and all.”
It was indeed her most memorable shot of the Beatles, though, since Fiona, who has died aged 84, rapidly became one of their favourite photographers, there would be many more. In addition, she was then taking pictures of just about every other musician who made the Top 20.
One of Fiona’s more discreet triumphs would be some offstage pictures of Jimi Hendrix but the pop magazines mostly filled their pages with pictures and interviews of British talent. What inevitably became known as “Fiona Adams’s jumping picture” first appeared in Boyfriend magazine; then Lennon chose the shot for the cover of Twist and Shout – the group’s first four-track EP.
Fiona was the daughter of Freda (nee Pattinson) and Philip Clarke, who had both trained as professional musicians but at the time of her birth were running a guest house on the west coast of Guernsey. It was a difficult pregnancy and Freda needed to see a specialist in London, which is where Fiona was born. When in the summer of 1940 the Anglo-French armies were defeated and the Germans poised to occupy the Channel Islands, Fiona and her mother were evacuated to England on a French ship. Although Philip crossed over too not long afterwards, he soon enlisted in the army.
a group of people jumping in the air: Fiona Adams’s 1963 ‘jumping picture’ of the Beatles, from left, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, which Lennon chose for the cover of the group’s Twist and Shout EP.© Photograph: Fiona Adams/Redferns Fiona Adams’s 1963 ‘jumping picture’ of the Beatles, from left, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, which Lennon chose for the cover of the group’s Twist and Shout EP.
The family were finally reunited in 1946 in a liberated if threadbare Guernsey, where they took over the derelict Imperial hotel with its panoramic view of Rocquaine Bay, and Fiona began a formal education at the Ladies’ college in St Peter Port. Despite its stunning view the hotel was a disaster. After four years her parents gave up and moved to London while they still had enough family funds left to buy a house near the river at east Twickenham. However, they decided it would be unfair to disrupt their daughter’s education so Fiona remained in Guernsey until she took her O-levels. Among the passes was one in art.
In September 1952 she was the only woman among the entry into the two-year photographic course at Ealing College of Art and Technology, west London. After winning the 1954 student of the year award, she walked into a job as an assistant to Douglas Glass, who among other things provided the Sunday Times with a weekly black-and-white celebrity portrait. He promised to pay her £7 a week, and warned her not to use him as a stepping stone, which of course she did.
Next was the photo section of London county council’s architectural department near Westminster Bridge. Then she spent two years in Australia, where she helped make a documentary on wildlife in the Northern Territory and was briefly married to an Australian called Adams, retaining his surname as half of her professional moniker for the rest of her career. Later, when Lennon spotted that she had also kept her wedding ring, he teasingly addressed her as “Missus”.
In the spring of 1963 she was out with her portfolio looking for work, and took a week’s temping at Picture Story Publications. Orders were piling up from Boyfriend and other magazines. Her first portraits were of the singers Billy Fury and Adam Faith and her talent was immediately apparent. Only a few weeks later she spotted the bombsite she used for the Beatles picture from the upper deck of a bus. She was determined to get away from studio shots and stage sets. “Music was changing and I wanted to reflect this with a more dynamic, natural background.”
Fiona always pointed out swinging London was ephemeral, with a life span no longer than the four years between 1963 and 1967. The success of groups like the Beach Boys heralded pop music’s shift from London to Los Angeles. Her personal life was changing too. In 1972 she married Owen Le Tissier, who travelled all over the world as a troubleshooter for a Texas-based construction company, now accompanied by Fiona and soon their two children. From Norway’s North Sea Oil fields to Japan, their postings included the kind of photogenic places that delighted Fiona’s London agent.
In 2009 the National Portrait Gallery featured her 60s work, along with that of other photographers of that era, in their exhibition Beatles to Bowie: The 60s Exposed. She was described as “an unsung heroine of the decade now retired and living in the Channel Islands”.
Unsung maybe, but not retired. In the 1980s Owen and Fiona had gone back to Guernsey, where Fiona threw herself into being a local photographer, doing advertising work for the offshore finance industry and even the occasional wedding.
Owen died in 2011. Fiona is survived by their daughter, Sophie, and son, Clement.
- Fiona Adams, photographer, born 26 September 1935; died 26 June 2020
© Provided by The Guardian Fiona Adams’s photo of Bob Dylan during a press conference at the Savoy hotel in London, 1965. Photograph: Fiona Adams/Redferns
© Photograph: Fiona Adams/Redferns Fiona Adams’s 1963 ‘jumping picture’ of the Beatles, from left, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, which Lennon chose for the cover of the group’s Twist and Shout EP.
DON’T FORGET TO LAUGH EVERYDAY ESPECIALLY WHILST IN ISOLATION
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
“Optimism Is The One Quality More Associated With Success And Happiness Than Any Other.”- Brian Tracy
Happiness is…creative black & white photography
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
I changed my password to “incorrect”. So whenever I forget what it is the computer will say “Your password is incorrect”.
Love is…as close as you can get
TOTAL STAIRWAY TO EVEREST CLIMB CHALLENGE
DAY 97 16 Times – 144 Feet Cumulative Total 14,607 Feet
©2020 Phil M Robinson