Since The Beatles did the Sgt. Pepper album cover, many artists became aware of the impact of album covers on the overall character of albums. In fact, The Beatles themselves were very experimental and meticulous about album covers as may be observed in Rubber Soul, Revolver and even Beatles For Sale. Earlier albums employed the services of Robert Freeman who The Beatles felt captured their characters at particular periods in their early professional career.
Taking it from Wiki on Robert Freeman:
With the Beatles cover
The cover for With the Beatles was shot by Freeman on 22 August 1963 in the Palace Court Hotel, Bournemouth, England.
Paul McCartney‘s recollection of the session:
The original idea was to paint the picture from edge to edge, with no bleeding or title, but the studio vetoed it, on the grounds that the Beatles were not yet famous enough to carry a nameless cover. (The first album to carry an edge-to-edge cover was the Rolling Stones‘self-titled debut, released a few months later.) The studio also tried to pull the cover because the Beatles were not smiling, and it was only after George Martin intervened that they won the day. Freeman was paid £75 for his work (three times the normal fee).
Beatles for Sale cover
The album cover for Beatles for Sale shows the Beatles in an autumnal setting photographed in Hyde Park, London. McCartney recalled: “The album cover was rather nice: Robert Freeman’s photos. It was easy. We did a session lasting a couple of hours and had some reasonable pictures to use…. The photographer would always be able to say to us, ‘Just show up,’ because we all wore the same kind of gear all the time. Black stuff; white shirts and big black scarves.”
The album also features a gatefold cover, the photo inside the gatefold cover showed the Beatles standing in front of a montage of photos.
The Help album cover features the group spelling out a word in semaphore; the British Parlophone release featured the word ‘NUJV’, whilst the slightly re-arranged US release on Capitol Records appeared to feature the word ‘NVUJ’. However, it may be argued that some of the members of the band were not only re-arranged but reversed as well.
The following semaphore characters show the correct spelling of “HELP” as seen if facing the flagman:
However, the truth is the photo does not spell any message at all in semaphore. Robert Freeman confirms this: “I had the idea of semaphore spelling out the letters HELP. But when we came to do the shot the arrangement of the arms with those letters didn’t look good. So we decided to improvise and ended up with the best graphic positioning of the arms.”
Rubber Soul cover
The photo of the Beatles on the Rubber Soulcover appears stretched. McCartney relates the story behind this in Volume 5 of the documentary film Anthology. Photographer Bob Freeman had taken some pictures of the Beatles at Lennon’s house. Freeman showed the photos to the Beatles by projecting them onto an album-sized piece of cardboard to simulate how they would appear on an album cover. The unusual Rubber Soul album cover came to be when the slide card fell slightly backwards, elongating the projected image of the photograph and stretching it. Excited by the effect, they shouted, “Ah! Can we have that? Can you do it like that?” Freeman said he could.
The lettering was designed by Charles Front.