Born 8 July 1954 in Highgate London, McGee is one of six children. Growing up next to the Tate Britain McGee acquired an early interest in art particularly fine paintings. He was educated in Chelsea, although at age 14 he dramatically left school to work in Pinewood Studios. McGee created his first fashion portfolio at the age of 17, and during this period he met and photographed subjects including David Bailey, Marie Helvin and David Bowie. At 18 following a chance meeting with the Editor and Chief of Bazaar Magazine Willy Landels and public relations consultant Lynne Franks, McGee was assigned his first cover shoot for Harpers and Queen. At the young age of 19 he was shooting his 12th magazine cover; McGee travelled internationally photographing for publications such as British and American Vogue, Vogue Italia, L'Uomo Vogue, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Sunday Times Magazine, Rolling Stone and The New Yorker magazine. McGee currently lives in Primrose Hill with his wife Sandy and has two sons Jack and Max.
Photographers are artists and constantly seek beauty through light and form. As the fashion editor of Country Life magazine, I have worked with photographer Tony McGee for many years, in London studios and at locations in the UK and abroad. I am indebted to his eye for beauty and his passion for perfection. (Maraldi J G, 2000)
McGee's subjects have included actors, models and other entertainers such as: Daniel Day-Lewis, Rod Steiger, Jeremy Irons, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anna Friel, Charlotte Rampling, Jerry Hall, Tara Shannon, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Yasmin Le Bon, Naomi Campbell, Heather Mills, Kate Moss, Eva Herzigova, David Bowie, Marianne Faithfull, Debbie Harry, George Michael, Tina Turner, Eva Herzigova, Shirley Bassey, Stevie Nicks, Roxy Music, Daniel Day-Lewis, The Sex Pistols and Mother Teresa.
McGee was the first to photograph a young fifteen-year-old Kate Moss, launching her into stardom. “It was sensational to shoot Kate Moss when she was just starting out. She was terribly shy but very beautiful.”
In 1999, McGee photographed a spread of Heather Mills to help promote her anti-landmine charity. Mills hit by a police motorbike suffered serious injuries, losing her left leg, 6 inches below the knee. The photo shoot consisted of a naked Mills posing both with and without her artificial leg. Mills never released the photos, however they were leaked to the internet in 2008 by DListed.com
Tony McGee has shot campaigns for the designer label Chanel. Other campaigns include Lancome, L’Oreal, Yardey, Bourjois, Winston Cigarettes and Seiko. Aged 24 McGee directed and filmed his first TV commercial for Boots No. 7 brand, for this he was awarded the Gold prize at Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. He went on to film over 250 TV commercials working with production companies around the world and under his self-titled production company McGee Films.
Although fashion photography is McGee's prime discipline, his repertoire also includes Fine Art. In 2001 he published his first book 'Boxing Ballerinas' followed by the critically acclaimed 'Room at the Top' published in 2008. For 20 years Tony McGee owned a studio opposite the Central School of Ballet in London. The rooms of the school were lined with large windows filling them with light, making a perfect setting for McGee's exquisite photographs of the aspiring dancers. As he worked in his studio opposite he could see the young ballerinas running up and down the 347 steps between their warm-up rooms in the basement and their demanding teachers in the rooms at the top. These images have been collected in the beautiful new book, suitably titled Room at the Top.
Tony McGee has brought a special eye to the subject, one honed for over 30 years in the arcane world of fashion photography at the highest levels. (Joel M V)
As of January 2009 McGee offered Londoners the chance to feel like a supermodel. McGee has opened a studio in Knightsbridge Harrods Urban Retreat to give the public the celebrity photo-shoot treatment. The experience includes a makeover and hair styling followed by a shoot with the photographer. During these shoots McGee has been described as instantly likeable, warm, funny and extremely experienced.
In May 2010 MeGee was invited to speak at Oxford University's Union to talk to students about how to have careers in an industry not usually associated with the interllect of Oxford. He was joined on the panel by: Supermodel David Gandy, V&A's senior curator Claire Wilcox, fashion consultant Frances Card and VOGUE.COM editor Dolly Jones.
Tony McGee and Floridita Productions Ltd published his first book, “Boxing Ballerinas” in, 2002.
This is a book that closely shows the unique affiliation between boxers at the Academy of boxing, and ballerinas at the National School of Ballet in Havana, Cuba. This stunning book is a photographic diary of the training of both art forms through agility, pain, timing and endurance.
Each image is a strong representation of the pure emotion and heart that goes into each form of sport. There is a constant sense of movement and extreme energy throughout the publication. When seeing two images aside of one another it is astonishing at the similarities in the structure, practice and gruelling training that they endure.
“Ballerinas float like butterflies, The Boxers sting like bees.” Tony McGee
Tony McGee and Splendor Editions published his second book, “Room At The Top” in, 2008, London.
“Room at the top” is a delicate collection of photographs, all taken on the 7th Floor, three hundred and forty seven steps up, in a high ceilinged, atelier at the Central school of Ballet, Clerkenwell, London.
This anthology of photographs has been created using only natural lighting pouring in, adding to the natural and significant beauty of the photographs. Over the period of two and a half years he studied these world-class ballerinas movements, and determination, resulting in beautiful black and white imagery. Being able to reach this ‘room at the top’ is a significant moment in any students dancing career as only the best and most successful ballerinas will get there.
The majority of the photographs are taken from a distance, as supposed to close up making the subject appear far more intriguing and resolute. The photographs are able to show each individual in a beautiful but very hard light, almost picturing ballet as a way of life, not as an art form.
All the images were taken using Leica and Rolleiflex cameras, on Kodak TRI-X film.
Quotes: “It’s such a beautiful book and the concept is brilliant” – Anouska Proetta Brandon
“Tony McGee spent two years in search of perfection among a group of world-class ballet students. Seven hundred rolls of film later, he found it.” – Horatia harrods, Telegraph
“Despite ballet having being exhaustively used as a source for images of all genres, McGee imbues the 125 images here with a quiet beauty, underscored by the power and energy constrained within the bodies of what are – after all – accomplished athletes.” – Mke Von Joel, Photo Icon
“McGee has always been interested in the challenge of capturing movement and dance on camera, and the results are truly spectacular.” – Unknown, Barre article2001 – McGee, Tony: Boxing Ballerinas. Floridita Productions Ltd, UK. ISBN 978-0-9539975-0-3
2008 – McGee, Tony: Room at the Top. Splendor Editions, London. ISBN 978-0-9558314-0-9