How to get world exclusive photos of the Beatles

Imagine it is the 1960s and you are Joana Biarnés, a woman photojournalist passionate about your work, but it is a man’s world and you are not taken seriously. So no newspaper director is considering to offer you a contract, although they say they appreciate your work. Like Emilio Romero of the mythical daily Pueblo, one of the leading publications of the Franco era.

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But she is a fighter and is aiming high. When in July 1965 the Beatles visit Madrid and Barcelona for a short tour, she grabs this opportunity to prove all the directors wrong. The Beatlemania is at its very peak, also in Spain, and photos of the band are in great demand. The musicians had announced they only want to do a press conference in Madrid and no photo session afterwards.

Joana’s father has always encouraged her to try to capture the photo of all photos, that one photo to stand out from the crowd. This standard press conference obviously does not yield unique pictures and she has to resort to another scheme. Thanks to her good relationship with the PR man of Iberia she gets a seat in the plane that transports the Beatles to Barcelona. Once inside she sets up her gear in the toilet and takes a series of pictures through the crack of the half-opened folding door where she is caught red-handed. Below you see some of the photos.

Still not satisfied, Joana comes up with a further plan: to visit the group in their hotel room in the Avenida Palace. As a bodyguard is controling the elevator, she goes up in the goods lift and just knocks on the door of the suite. Ringo Starr opens the door and says he recognizes her from the flight to Barcelona. Then as Joana has made herself known as a photojournalist, Ringo consults his colleagues and they tell her to come in.

Eventually she spent three hours chatting with them about food, flamenco and little everyday things of life, pointing her camera and firing away. ‘As I took the photos without flash, I think they didn’t believe I was a photographer. I guess they thought I was just a groupie who had enough money to follow them around and made it all up about being a photojournalist.’

The result was very satisfying: Joana had managed a world exclusive set of photos that, she thought, would sell quickly. But to her great disappointment Emilio Romero let her know he was no longer interested in her photo report. The reason was that dictator Franco who had influence on almost any publication, considered a press conference of these foreign musicians quite enough and further promotion of the long-haired layabouts who smoked joints was out of the question.

Joana was speechless and in the end gave her pictures away to the magazine Ondas. No pay, but her status had risen and in the end she got her place at the newspaper Pueblo. From then on her career soared and many more celebrities appeared before her camera. But that’s another story…

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