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Remembering Fiona Adams Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

17 July 2020

Fiona Adams, who took the famous image of the Beatles jumping on a London bomb site, died of pancreatic cancer late last month. She was 84.

On a 1963 assignment for Boyfriend magazine, Adams posed the group wearing dark suits and fashionable shoes at the edge of a cratered bomb site and told them to jump.

"I didn't even think to check whether it was safe or not," she told the story. "I struggled down into the crater with my heavy camera case. There was a pile of fallen bricks and detritus at the bottom. The boys did their bit and stood patiently -- beautifully silhouetted against the sky and the buildings. I set up my camera and shouted: "One, two, three -- jump!" And they jumped -- twice. Cuban heels and all."

John Lennon chose the shot, known as Fiona Adams's jumping picture, for the cover of Twist and Shout. And Adams become one of the group's favorite photographers.

In addition to the Beatles, she photographed every top 20 rock musician of the era, including Adam Faith, Cilla Black, The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Sandy Shaw, Billy j. Kramer and The Hollies.

'I didn't even think to check whether it was safe or not.'

Her parents Freda and Philip Clarke had both trained as professional musicians but were running a guest house in Guernsey when she was born. Her mother, had gone to London to consult with a specialist over her difficult pregnancy, which is where she gave birth to Fiona.

After the war, the family ran the rundown Imperial hotel overlooking Rocquaine Bay in Guernsey. The struggled for four years before gaving up the project, moving to London but leaving Fiona in Guernsey to finish her studies.

In 1952 she was the only woman admitted to the two-year photographic course at Ealing College of Art and Technology in west London. After winning the 1954 student of the year award, she got a job as an assistant to portrait photographer Douglas Glass. Glass had a weekly assignment with the Sunday Times for a weekly black-and-white celebrity portrait.

She tried her hand at architectural photography before moving to Australia for two years where she took up travel photography, covering the continent on a scooter. She also did news and wildlife photography down under.

When the offer from Boyfriend came up, she returned to London. Her success at Boyfriend led to a job with Fabulous taking large color photos of the celebrities who came to illuminate the London scene at the peak of its '60s glory.

When the pop scene had popped she moved to New York to shoot travel photography for American Express.

In 1972 she married Owen Le Tissier with whom she had two children. In the 1980s the family returned to Guernsey and Adams became its local photographer, doing advertising work for the offshore finance industry and the occasional wedding.

Le Tissier died in 2011 but she is survived by their daughter Sophie and son Clement.

In 2009, the National Portrait Gallery in England featured her work as part of an exhibition called Beatles to Bowie: The '60s Exposed. The exhibit referred to her Beatles picture as "one of the defining images of 20th-century culture," describing Adams as "an unsung heroine of the decade."

A selection of her work can be seen on her Web site.

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