I don’t want to write a lot about Amy Winehouse.
If you are interested in reading about her, buy a gossip magazine or type her name on Google, two millions pages come out. Few will tell you something about her music, sadly.
I want to show pictures of her performing.
These pictures were taken on November 2006 when Back To Black her second album just came out and wasn’t yet the biggest selling UK album.
She played her first series of shows in small venues and was so keen on singing the album live that the whole place was bursting of positive energy.
Everything rotated around the music, not about asking whether or not she was drunk.
Since that show I was quite sure that the album would have been massive, bigger than her Mercury prize nominated debut, Frank.
Amy Winehouse has one of the best voices emerged in years and she has the charisma of a timeless diva.
With Norah Jones moving to unconvincing jazz-country and Joss Stone leaving soul dreaming of pop arenas, Amy filled up a void.
When you have the songs and the stage presence it can’t go wrong…unless…you can’t cope with the pressure.
First time I saw Amy Winehouse, she supported Jamie Cullum (!?!). It must have been somewhere around 2003 or 2004. She was part of a trio, she used to play a light blue Fender Stratocaster guitar. Black hair, black make up, a curvy girl with few tattoos. Two things impressed me, her voice and her alienated look lost into the songs she was singing.
When she came on stage for this show, Amy Winehouse looked a different person.
Skinny, dressed with an impressively short everything except the hair, she revealed anything, from their new tattoos to her knickers. She is not a person able to hide, she looks like having a compulsive need to be seen and recognised.
Generous, she totally gives herself on stage. Anything she has in that particular moment, which can span from nothing to her whole heart, is donated to the audience. Her mood is indecipherable. Her eyes never gaze at you, impenetrable. While portraying her, my mind went back to that first concert, to that estranged attitude of a girl immersed in the music. I refined my opinion; Amy Winehouse gives you everything but her soul, her soul is only for her songs. The secret of the great album and some wonderful shows.
I hope she will continue, she clearly wasn’t ready for such a success and alas cannot cope with it, but I do hope she will.
Not a tip today, few considerations.
Try this. Search for “Amy Winehouse” on Google images. 900.000 hits pop out. A very small percentage shows you a singer, most photos portrait Amy as a drug addict, desperate, alcoholic junk.
I am not a journalist. If something, I am a photographer. Since photographers are usually accused of exploiting this people, I want to use this space to say something not against tabloids, not against the rock stars, not even in support of colleagues, but against (some of) you, the readers.
Photographers usually are not born rich. They have a mortgage or a rent to pay, live a life as anyone.
Photographers shoot what people buys. Fact.
A picture of Amy using drugs is worth thousand of pounds, a picture of Amy doing her gig on stage is not worth a penny. Literally, not a fiver, not a single penny.
This market isn’t decided by editors, it is fixed by (number of) readers.
The photographers’ options aren’t a lot, either we do another job, so that we can put the concert pictures for free on our blogs (or on some webzines curated by passionate guys who do this, surprise, for free), or some have to hang out Camden’s Tesco hoping to snap Amy shopping for alcohol at 4am to cover the February mortgage with a blunt, small, grainy snap on a Metro cover. That people love to see.
Clarified that, what I’d love is some answers from these readers.
Why do you find interesting looking at Amy drunk, better if she is half naked and looks miserable?
Does it give a relief, does it tell you are not like her?
Or does it feel a relief knowing that even rich and famous “celebrities” (I hate this word) use drugs just like you? Is there a personality void you have to fill with heroes and anti-heroes to feel better?
I am convinced some small steps of self consciousness into everyone life behaviour do help a lot on many facets. The more you discover about your inner self the more you feel better; tabloids will stop paying big money to see Amy drunk if no-one cares, ideally they will also start paying for images of her doing what she can do best, singing. Amy wouldn’t be caught into this mechanism that at the same time made her famous as well as put her on the edge of breaking up. Paparazzi will stop running after celebrities for any kind of miserable image and will be forced to concentrate on taking good pictures.
I am not a psychologist either. I can see all liveon35mm readers out there saying you have never been interested to those sort of pictures and never bought a gossip magazine. Fine, so why, while waiting for the rest of the world to be as good as you, not doing a bit more? I have a selfish option.
Don’t buy and stand against crap magazines, keep your money each week. When you saved enough, buy fine-art photographs of your stars. Original prints look great hanging on the living room. This would help photographers paying that damn mortgage without wandering out in Oxford street every night chasing the next “drunk celebrity”, the musicians to become famous because of their work, and the forests’ trees to host wild furry animals instead of wild shaved girls. Think about it, your mind thinks for free.