Friday, 21 December 2012

Full Christmas tree photo

Last year, a black and white version of Robert Whitaker's famous Christmas tree photo of the Beatles adorned the month of December in the Beatles calendar I had. The photo is likely to have been taken some time in the autumn, 1964 at 23 West Smithfield, formerly the London address of Farringdon Studio. The Beatles posed for several seasonally flavoured photos, including the New Year's toasting with champagne photos you probably have seen.
I was wondering why this photo was reproduced in black and white in my calendar, because it was obviously shot in colour. When you search for it on the internet, the sizes you will find are usually very small, but at least they'll be in colour.
Today I came across the version you see depicted here, which shows the full photo before it was trimmed. As you can see, the Beatles are standing on a roll of red wallpaper for this particular shot. You'll usually see the photo trimmed like this:

There's another, similar shot where George is holding his hand to his face, leaning on it. That one was used for a Bravo cover, but they seem to have gotten a black and white version only, because they have clearly coloured it themselves:
Of course, this has also originally been shot in colour, as evidenced by this version, courtesy of another, older calendar:

There's only one other shot of the full tree I've seen, although it's only available in less-than-mediocre quality:
The rest of the photos from the session has all the Beatles sitting in front of the tree, opening presents.
All photos: Robert Whitaker

2 comments:

Popper said...

Nice. A couple of observations though - first, I'm not sure it's wallpaper they are on. See how wide it is - Imagine Ringo at the back there, with his arms outstretched. That's pretty wide for wallpaper. And second, that mag cover, I don't think they coloured it from black and white - they seem to know the correct colours of the giftwrap in front of George and all the baubles on the tree. I think they just retouched an already colour version, to make it clear and bright for the magazine cover.

Nice post through. Merry Christmas!

Zanrak said...

It's not wallpaper, it's "Set Paper" (!).... commonly used in photo shoots. It comes in many colors and is of varying lengths, but usually around 12 feet wide. Nice, huh?.... Amazing the crap the Beat Boys had to put up with.... but then, we have such amusing photos!