The man who helped define the image of The Beatles with some of the band’s best-known album covers has reportedly died at age 82 as per a statement via The Beatles’ official website which announced Freeman’s death but didn’t give a cause.
Robert Freeman was born in 1936 and began his career as a photojournalist for London’s Sunday Times and captured portraits of leading jazz musicians before working with The Beatles. He shot the black-and-white cover for the 1963 album With The Beatles, picturing the Fab Four’s faces in part-shadow. It became a defining image of the group and also was used for the 1964 U.S. album Meet The Beatles!
In an online tribute, Paul McCartney said “people often think that the cover shot for Meet The Beatles of our foreheads in half shadow was a carefully arranged studio shot. In fact it was taken quite quickly by Robert in the corridor of a hotel we were staying in where natural light came from the windows at the end of the corridor.”
McCartney wrote in his blog post that Freeman “was one of our favorite photographers during the Beatles years who came up with some of our most iconic album covers” and called him “imaginative and a true original thinker.”
Freeman went on to photograph the covers of 1964’s Beatles for Sale, 1965’s Help! — with its image of the band members holding semaphore-style flags — and 1965’s Rubber Soul. For the latter album, Freeman subtly stretched The Beatles’ faces, subtly suggesting the psychedelic experiments to come.