Capturing Amy Winehouse in a new light
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Capturing Amy Winehouse in a new light

Celebrity photographers Darren and Elliott Bloom discuss their new book Amy: A Life Through The Lens

Francine Wolfisz is the Features Editor for Jewish News.

Amy Winehouse arrives at a Mark Ronson gig in 2010. Credit: Opticphotos.com
Amy Winehouse arrives at a Mark Ronson gig in 2010. Credit: Opticphotos.com

Celebrity photographer Darren Bloom was driving along one night, when the car ahead carrying music legend Amy Winehouse suddenly halted.

The Jewish singing sensation, who rocketed to fame in 2006 with her critically-acclaimed album, Back To Black, tentatively stepped outside and knocked on Darren’s window.

“Can you get out your car and take some pictures of me – I didn’t look at myself in the mirror before I went out?” she cheekily asked with a smile.

Darren, now 33, happily obliged and when he showed the images back to her, she nodded with approval. “I look really good tonight, don’t I?”

In the five years since Amy tragically passed away from alcohol poisoning, aged just 27, that memory remains one of Darren’s fondest encounters with the multi-award-winning star.

Alongside his brother Elliott, 37, (pictured above) Darren had followed Amy’s career from the moment she exploded onto the music scene and, by 2009, her label had asked them to become Amy’s “official” paparazzi, giving them exclusive access beyond that of their colleagues.

They were there to capture Amy at the height of her career, as well as through her turbulent relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil, her battle with drugs and alcohol and her impromptu, late-night walkabouts.

But they were also there to capture the more intimate moments and private performances, to which only the Blooms were given access.

06.JULY.2010. LONDON AMY WINEHOUSE ARRIVING AT 100 CLUB, OXFORD STREET TO ATTEND MARK RONSON'S GIG. SHE THEN LEFT AT 11.30PM AND HEADED TO THE AFTERPARTY AT THE SANDERSON HOTEL WITH HER NIPPLE HANGING OUT WHERE SHE STAYED TILL 1.30AM AND LEFT LOOKING A LITTLE WORSE FOR WEAR BEFORE HEADING ONTO BUNGALO 8 CLUB WHERE SHE PARTIED TILL THE EARLY HOURS. BYLINE: OPTICPHOTOS.COM *THIS IMAGE IS STRICTLY FOR UK NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES ONLY* *FOR WORLD WIDE SALES AND WEB USE PLEASE CONTACT OPTICPHOTOS - 0208 954 5968*
Amy Winehouse arrives at a Mark Ronson gig in 2010. Credit: Opticphotos.com

Sifting through their remarkable collection of some 30,000 images taken between 2005 and 2011, the Borehamwood-based siblings have now collated their favourite shots in their new book, Amy: A Life Through The Lens. 

The brothers first came to know about Amy through a family connection:

“She always had a glow. She looked straight down the barrel of the camera with her cheeky little smile.”

Their aunt, Helen, was friendly with Amy’s grandmother, Cynthia, while their dad Eddie had grown up with Mitch Winehouse in the same block of flats in the East End.

Over the years they spent with Amy, they not only followed her movements, but came to know her on a personal level.

Darren recalls: “We could even tell if she was in a good mood – because she would draw fake freckles around her nose. It was something we used to pick up on. We noticed little things like that.”

Elliott adds: “She was a really nice girl. I suppose it was difficult for her to cavort with us in front of everyone because she was a big superstar, but behind closed doors, one-on-one with her, she was amazing. It was an honour to be able to take her pictures. She was brilliant.”

While they witnessed the low points, by 2010 the star had divorced Blake and was beginning the slow return to health, helped by a blossoming relationship with her new boyfriend, Reg Traviss.

“She’d really cleaned herself up a lot and the pictures from then on were amazing,” remembers Elliott.

“She always had a glow. She looked straight down the barrel of the camera with her cheeky little smile.”

edb_blake_amy_cuts_fight_230807_11
The highs and lows: Amy was photographed during her turbulent relationship with husband Blake Fielder-Civil

The Blooms decided not to continue their careers as celebrity photographers, following Amy’s shocking death in 2011. “It was a very painful time,” admits Elliott.

“We could have cashed in and sold our pictures, but we felt it wasn’t right to put it out there. Now five years on, we wanted the world to see these beautiful images of Amy.”

For Elliott, his favourite image of the songstress was an exclusive taken in 2009 with god-daughter Dionne Bromfield at her side.

He tells me: “I took some beautiful pictures of them and thought I would frame one, sign it and give it to her. So we did and I handed it over to the security guy.”

To his surprise, Elliott heard nothing further and came to believe that Amy had not liked the photograph – but the exact opposite was true.

Earlier this year, he received a phone call from Dionne saying she had just found the framed photograph tucked away in Amy’s storage.

optic_mitch_winehouse_gig_pizza_onthe_park_lon_20-06-2010_12
Amy pictured with her father, Mitch Winehouse, in 2010. Credit: Opticphotos.com

“She told me Amy had hung it above her bed in one of her properties,” explains Elliott.

“The picture was like a prized possession and she had really loved it. It was so nice to know how much she had treasured it.”

Amy: A Life Through The Lens by Darren and Elliott Bloom with Matt Trollope, is published by Omnibus Press, priced £20 (hardback) and available now.

For more details, visit amyalifethroughthelens.com

 

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