Mary McCartney estimates that she may have taken 250,000 images over the last 20 years. Between shooting on film for her personal work and digital for assignments, she has accrued an almost intimidatingly-large backlog of photographs. But for her newest book, it is this very archive she sought to tackle.
Monochrome & Colour, a hefty coffee table work, saw the photographer curate herself (with the help of editors) and is filled with hundreds of her personal images spanning the 1990s and early 2000s. As the title suggests, it’s split into two distinct sections: one for color photography and one for black-and-white images. It is a tome that betrays McCartney’s love for quiet, intimate moments off the beaten track but, as one might expect from the oldest child of The Beatles singer Paul McCartney, is also one that gives us an up-close look at celebrity lives.
Inside, we see Kate Moss, Morrissey and the photographer’s own mother Linda McCartney (who famously worked as a photographer herself). But, McCartney stresses, these photos make up only a relatively small part of the work. And, in fact, are not essential to it.
“I didn’t put photos in for it to be a celebrity or non-celebrity,” McCartney tells TIME. “I am interested in shooting all different types of people. I find a lot of people inspirational. I’m interested in people, in their stories.”
Indeed, her work seems at its most refined when her lens shows us relaxed, candid moments before a drag show starts, a play begins or a fashion show kicks off.
“I’m interested in that kind of training and the grueling schedule and all that practice that goes on for a fashion show or for a theater production,” she says. “I have always been attracted to that, wondering who those people are, what do they do and how did they get there in their life.”
And how to capture this? For McCartney, building trust is the only way.
“I don’t turn up and invade their space,” she says. “In that way I tend, luckily, to have been able to get trusting, personal images. [Images] of them as themselves rather than of them performing and pretending to be something in front of the camera.”
Mary McCartney is based in London. Her work has been exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery, London and The Waterfront, New York City, among others. Monochrome & Colour is available now.
Michelle Molloy, who edited this photo essay, is a senior international photo editor at TIME.
Richard Conway is reporter/producer for TIME LightBox
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