Astrid Kirchherr obituary

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German photographer and artist best known for her pictures of the Beatles, whose distinctive image she helped to shape

“Black and white means photography to me,” said Astrid Kirchherr in 1995. “It’s much easier to take a good colour photograph, but you can get more drama into a black and white one.” It was in black and white that Kirchherr, who has died aged 81, captured the unknown Beatles in 1960, shooting them in leather jackets against industrial Hamburg and helping to form their distinctive image.

It was her mastery of light and shade in her 1962 portraits of John Lennon and George Harrison that influenced the cover of the 1963 album With the Beatles. However her influence went further than photography. It was Kirchherr who brushed out the flat-top hairstyle sported by her then Beatle boyfriend Stuart Sutcliffe, which led to the rest of the band adopting the famed “moptop” look.

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