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Photographer of the stars Dean wins NME award
WRESTLING a flaming Pete Doherty out of his burning clothes isn’t in most people’s job descriptions. But for music photographer Dean Chalkley, it’s all in a day’s work.
The Southend photographer has just been given an award for outstanding contribution to music photography at the NME Music Photography Awards with Nikon.
“It’s very lovely,” says Dean. “It’s really great actually. The magazine is a pillar of the music world really. It’s a real honour.”
But snapping some of music’s maddest and baddest doesn’t come without its hazards and Dean laughs as he remembers the Pete incident.
“Pete Doherty setting himself on fire was a pretty interesting moment,” he says. “He was on some sort of thing when I was photographing him. He had a jacket on and he was fiddling around with a lighter.
“His vest caught alight, then basically it went up, so I had to throw my camera down and jump over there. Me and his PR person kind of wrestled his top off him, because he couldn’t get it off – he was going up in flames.
“In a dazed state he put the shirt back on and I got this quite ethereal shot of him.”
For Dean, the key to his success is in the way he engages with his subjects. He says: “You have to approach people as people, rather than as a commodity, a job or a product.”
Commitment is also another of Dean’s secrets and he brings out another mad tale of musical mayhem as he continues: “I photographed a band called American Head Charge in Conneticut once. The first thing I was confronted with was a box of guns. The core of the band had met in rehab – and I actually took their wall down.
“I’d seen their dressing room and it was too small. While they were soundchecking, I got my penknife out and unscrewed the whole wall. They were pretty impressed. They were onside.”
There are so many wonderful photoshoots it’s difficult for Dean to pick a favourite.
“The White Stripes in a fantastic chateau in Paris,” he says. “The Strokes, Amy Winehouse – she was lovely, what a character, she was very, very funny and really lovely. And the Horrors, we must not forget the Horrors.”
Dean exhibits at White Wall Space, in Old Leigh, in February, but meanwhile a selection of his work will be on display at the NME Photography Awards exhibition from January 6-11 at theprintspace in Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London.