By Ringo Starr

Genesis Publications


304pp/$50.00/September 2015


Reviewed by Steven H Silver

In the 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day's Night, there is a brief scene in which Ringo Starr is looking at a camera while standing by the Thames. Several years later, in 1973, Starr released the single "Photograph" off his album Ringo, so it should surprise nobody that Starr is a photographer. While being a member of one of the most photographed rock groups in history, Starr would often turn his camera on his bandmates, the landmarks and scenery they got to see, and even the fans who flocked around them. Several of the images he took, along with pictures he appeared in, have been published in the volume Photograph, providing a unique view at the life of the Beatles.

In his introduction to the book, Starr talks about his enjoyment of taking photos and noted that his pictures tended to be scattered around his various homes. This project, in addition to sharing his photography with his fans, was also a means by which he could assemble an archive of his pictures, allowing him to actually understand the collection of photos that he had. He also noted that, although the Beatles always had official photographers around, he enjoyed taking pictures of the photographers, specifically Dezo Hoffmann and Bob Freeman. The descriptions of the pictures, which include the connections the pictures had to Ringo provide some biographical information, but are also written as if the reader is going through the pictures with Starr as he discovers what he is looking at.

Before getting to his years with the Beatles, Starr chronicles his childhood, working a variety of jobs, and, of course, his stint with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Much of the biographical information Starr gives to support these pictures is known, but reading Starr's own words about them adds to an understanding of his life. Eventually, he gets to his time with the Beatles, including candid shots of John and Paul having breakfast, commenting on how all hotels looked the same, or a photo of Jane Asher, Paul, John, Cynthia, and Maureen at the Maharishi's ashram. Mixed in with some photos of their police escorts and fans, these shots of the Beatles provide a rarely seen counterpoint to the mobs who crowded them as part of Beatlemania. One picture is of particular interest. Starr included a two page spread showing five fans in a car looking at the Beatles. The people in question recreated the picture fifty years later.

Of course, the meat of Photographs are the photographs. Most of the photos are black and white and in some cases the enlargement and reproduction have left them grainy, but Starr has a good eye for composition, not only shown in more artistic shots, such as a photo of a broken glass, to the more candid shots of Starr; friends hanging around, sometimes posing for the cameras and sometimes just getting on with their lives. Starr made his name as a musician and he has appeared in a variety of films and television shows, so he never had to pursue photography as a career. Instead, his pictures often demonstrate a talented amateur's love for the art form and Starr has been kind enough to share it with his fans.

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