My Secret Life: Mary McCartney, Photographer, age 38

The house/flat I grew up in... was quite busy and fun and always full of life. I have fond memories of a lot of noise and hectic goings-on.

When I was a child I wanted to be... my grandmother was a maternity nurse and I had romantic notions of following in her path, until I had to have my tonsils out and realised how much hard work is involved. I have a tremendous respect for nurses but it's not my chosen path.

The moment that changed me for ever... in my late teens and early twenties I didn't know what I wanted to do. Then I worked with my mum (the photographer Linda McCartney on her archives and contact sheets. This made me realised I wanted to do that as well.

My greatest inspiration... are my parents. They're both very artistic and encouraging and interesting. I really appreciate that they showed us artists and places and took us to interesting places, really broadening our horizons.

My real-life villain... big global polluters, who are wrecking our planet. Particularly large industrial parts of the meat industry, which drains the world resources.

If I could change one thing about myself... I'd stop interrupting people mid-sentence all the time. I talk too much. I cut in when I'm over-excited and then see the person's face and realise how irritating I've been.

At night I dream of... the things I haven't taken on board or have avoided thinking about during in the day.

What I see when I look in the mirror... I see more and more of my mother; the mannerisms and expressions in particular. It's also in my nose, jaw line and shape of face.

My style icon.... is Renée Lartigue, who was married to the French photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue. She looked like fun and wore big straw floppy hats, loads of bangles, with perfect hair and makeup and classic clothes. It was a French Riviera look; very feminine and very effortless-looking.

My favourite item of clothing... are jeans, because they're so versatile. Skinny cuts more so, particularly Superfine jeans.

I wish I'd never worn... big shoulder pads in the eighties. There are some very embarrassing photos.

It's not fashionable but I like... thick-cut granary toast and marmalade, granary from a local farmhouse. I get a late-morning craving.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... whistling. I can do the loud two-finger wolf whistles that you can stop cabs with. It took two days to teach myself how to do it.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... maths. I did enough so that I could pass at school, and promptly started avoid any situatation where I had to use it. I still dream of having a maths exam that I haven't revised for.

All my money goes on... photographic prints.

If I have time to myself... I watch TV in bed. Complete trash mainly, I just flick around until I find something. Anything but sport, which makes me feel like I should get up and do some exercise.

I drive/ride... I walk a lot or drive an old Mercedes. I much prefer walking. I saw a document about Van Gogh and how when he lived in Vauxhall and worked at his uncle's gallery in Covent Garden, he walked there and back each day. You see more of what's going on that way.

My house/flat is... very homely and relaxed, with comfy sofas, books and toys. I like somewhere that can be lived in.

My most valuable possession is... my bed, definitely. You can tell that I'm obsessed with beds. Mine is big and comfortable and quiet.

My favourite building... are the Houses of Parliament. I love that gothic style and each time I pass it there is always something new to see. It's so intricate and sculptural.

Movie heaven... I love Shirley MacLean movies, particularly Sweet Charity: the plot, the clothes, the music. I'm not usually into musicals but this one's got Hey Big Spender and If My Friends Could See Me Now, and ttyling and set design is brilliant.

A book that changed me... was Far from the Madding Crowd. I studied it at school and it opened my eyes to world of complicated relationships and things not being perfect but learning to working through problems.

My favourite work of art... is Van Gogh's Starry Night, which is at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. You can physically feel him in his paintings. The bold brush strokes, it's all quite intense, and makes you feel passion when you look at it.

The last album I bought/downloaded... was MGMT's new album Oracular Spectacular. I heard their song on the radio and it made me want to look them up.

The person who really makes me laugh... is chris rock. His comedy is very observational and I like way he presents himself in his live acts.

The shops I can't walk past... are usually bric-a-brac shops, and Alfie's antique market on Lisson Grove is always quite an adventure. You never quite know what you're going to get.

The best invention ever... is the alphabet.

In ten years time, I hope to be... content, that's what I'm working towards. It seems to be a process of having good relationships and doing work projects that you can feel proud of.

My greatest regret... is not having taken more pictures of my mum when she was alive. We spent a lot of time together, I don't have enough pictures of us just hanging out..

My life in seven words... pictorial, demanding, diverse, fortunate, flavoursome, physical and domestic.

A Life in Brief

Mary McCartney was born in London on 28 August, 1969, the first child of Linda and Paul McCartney. Following in her mother's footsteps, Mary became a photographer, specialising in fashion and portrait photography. In 2000, she photographed Tony and Cherie Blair with their new son, Leo. She has two sons from her previous marriage to TV producer Alistair Donald and is expecting a third child with her partner, the film-maker Simon Aboud. Mary McCartney has photographed Leona Lewis for Teenage Cancer Trust's summer sun safety campaign, Shunburn. For more details, go to

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