McCartney comes across as very comfortable in his own skin. A large man at ease in his surroundings, he strolls by gallery walls that are studded with the fruits of his labour. Accolades are mounting for the former advertising man, including a first place win in fine art nudes from the International Photography Awards.
With a book on the way, featuring his winning work and exhibits in various galleries, McCartney is not looking back. Maybe the overwhelming sense of peace he projects arises from something deeper than even his art can offer. He is that rare soul who knows exactly where he wants to be.
"It's home to me now," he says of Switzerland. "I really like it here. I like the culture and the lifestyle. My ancestry is part Swiss and it just seems like I fit here.
McCartney's photographs are a mixture of black and whites, as well as colour images. They feature ballet dancers and contemplative solitary figures, including a very pregnant woman whose long legs are rippled with sleek muscles. Many images are quickly arresting, some seductive and nearly all are nudes. Looking through a portfolio, McCartney tries to identify his particular muse.
"What inspires me the most are the models and dancers that I'm lucky enough to work with. With dancers. I usually take a lot of time to talk with them and have them show me what they can do. From that I try to push them even further. Take what they can do and perfect it.
But everything could have been so different.
Leaving the Windy City
It all began with a sense of restlessness in 1999. "We had been talking about the possibility of moving," McCartney says. "We were looking for a change because we'd lived in Chicago for a long time."
This led to their exploration of seemingly idyllic places in the American West such as Santa Fe and San Francisco. They would however end up moving much, much further away. One day his girlfriend, Kellie Nolan, came home with the news that her employer was considering moving her to Switzerland.
Nolan's company sent the couple to check out Zurich McCartney researched potential Swiss employers, arranged a few interviews, "and on the last day of the last interview, I got a job." And it was a good one, with an advertising firm boasting pedigreed clients like General Motors.
McCartney soon faced two unexpected developments in his new life. a frustration with the corporate world and a growing fascination with the burgeoning field of digital photography.