Amy Winehouse by Jake Chessum
Photographer: Jake Chessum
Location: New York City
Date: February 2004
"It was a classic February day…a bit cold, wet and foggy. Dark by about 4pm.
We met at Amy’s flat and without permits went to a few of her local haunts: A cafe, a launderette, Primrose Hill and then spontaneously we wandered into a very old fashioned lady’s outfitters in Chalk Farm called Bluston’s. For a small cash fee they let us shoot in the store. The record company were very hands off and didn’t pressure us to do any particular set ups. We just kind of went with the flow.
She was really entertaining…funny, smart and cooly indiscreet. I am a huge jazz fan and we talked about music, London, New York…
Her album, Frank and 2 singles had been released by this point and she was a bit nervous about photoshoots.
At the cafe where I photographed her at a table with the ketchup and sugar containers on an otherwise empty table she talked about how she was hesitant about “dressing up” for photos and wearing much more make up than she normally would. I tried to reassure her that she looked really natural and that photo shoots were really about marketing and not necessarily about who she really was.
She really was all about the music.
In retrospect it’s easy to create a narrative or appear to have insight into somebody, but there’s a quiet and reflective quality to this image. I feel I was fortunate to have been commissioned to work with her at this early stage in her career and to have captured moments that preceded her worldwide fame. I only met her once, but to possess the images and to rediscover them every time I make a print is bizarrely significant, especially in light of what happened a few years later.
I photographed David Bowie twice and always thought that I’d meet him again. When he died and that possibility was removed I felt distraught as he was a huge musical hero for me. I feel the same about Amy Winehouse…I always thought our paths would cross again."