Astrid Kirchherr was born in Hamburg, in 1938. Originally intending to study fashion design, she was persuaded by a tutor to enrol on the photography course, with the guarantee of a job as his assistant after completion of her degree.
Kirchherr had been working as an assistant for four years when she first met The Beatles. The young band from Liverpool were playing a residency in Hamburg and Kirchherr was immediately drawn to their look and energy:
“It was like a merry-go-round, they looked absolutely astonishing… My whole life changed in a couple of minutes. All I wanted was to know them.”
Following this initial introduction, Kirchherr went on to create some of the most iconic images of The Beatles, and her striking portraits from the Hamburg Funfair are the earliest professional photographs of the band.
She was briefly engaged to founding member Stuart Sutcliffe before his untimely death in 1962. She kept in close contact with the band, photographing them on two separate occasions over the following few years: once on a private holiday to Tenerife and again on the set of A Hard Days Night, following the explosion of the band into global stardom.
Kirchherr has taken very few photographs since 1967 and her early work has been exhibited in Hamburg, Bremen, London, Liverpool, New York City, Washington, D.C., Tokyo, Vienna and at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. She has published three limited-edition books of photographs, the most recent being ‘Astrid Kirchherr With The Beatles’, published by Damiani in 2017.
After a short illness, Kirchherr passed away in 2020 at 81 years of age. Her photographs of The Beatles are comisserated as an immeasurable gift:
“Astrid was the one, really, who influenced our image more than anybody. She made us look good.”