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Influential Photographs: The Beatles’ Abbey Road Album Cover, 1969 by Iain Macmillan

All they did was fall in line and walk across the zebra lane and all people fell in love with their monotonous strides in bell-bottoms. Who says that a 10-minute photo shoot can’t be the most imitated album cover of all time?

image source: pbase.com

John, Paul, George, and Ringo have been pondering on what to do for their next LP’s album cover. Until one of them, most probably Paul, thought about having their picture taken as they cross the road called Abbey, where they recorded most of their music. The rest of the band agreed with Paul’s brilliant idea and so one morning in August of 1969, John and Yoko contacted a Scottish photographer friend of theirs, Iain Macmillan, and a photo shoot was set up.

Macmillan was only given 10 minutes to capture this iconic album photograph. He used a stepladder and took six shots of The Beatles crossing the street. A policeman controlled the traffic during the shoot; he also tried to move the Volkswagen beetle away from them but he couldn’t – it’s a nice touch to the photograph, anyway, isn’t it?

After seeing the negatives under a magnifying glass, Paul chose the 5th one which is now the most famous album cover in music history. A lot of parodies and spoofs came out including album tributes and television programs. The Abbey Road is so famous that it became one of London’s tourist attractions and a live-stream website to see hundreds of people imitating the photograph.

Which other photographs do you think are influential? Post a hyperlink to the image in the comments – if you know it, please include the photographer’s name and the year the photo was taken.

Our intention with the Influential Photographs columns is not to glorify or demean the subject of the photo. Our intention with this column is to highlight the most influential analogue photographs of history. The photographs we feature are considered icons, for their composition, subject matter, or avant-garde artistic value.

written by basterda


  1. mariacande


    love beatles and lomography <3
    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. sthomas68


    The kiss by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt comes to mind....

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. vicuna


    Love this album, this cover picture, the beatles.....!! :))

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. coca


    love love love loooove the Beatles!!!!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. carilayonkifeliz


    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. tjdumser


    Folks, your article is incorrect in saying that the idea was Paul's. It was actually Ringo who said "Why don't we just take our picture outside?" So, a bit inaccurate, but nonetheless, one would assume it was Paul's idea. But way to go Ringo!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  7. gvelasco


    I had never seen the other shots. I would have tried to move the "Bug" too.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch, 中文(繁體版), Spanish & 한국어.