“Suddenly it just went up in flames” – Pete Doherty’s vest and other stories…

Photographer Dean Chalkley is a man who loves to talk.

The thing is, his stories are so beguiling that I love to listen to them.

So what I imagined would be an hour or so’s worth of interview time at his London studio turned into practically a whole day of music sharing, sandwich trips and a viewing of his latest short film project.

Ever generous with his time, a gently charming raconteur with an easy manner and a disarming lack of ego, it’s easy to imagine how Dean sets the often unbelievably high-profile celebrities he regularly shoots for the likes of the NME, Sunday Times and Observer at ease.

Charlotte Gainsbourg © Dean Chalkley/NME/IPCMEDIA

Charlotte Gainsbourg © Dean Chalkley/NME/IPCMEDIA

And you can sense their relaxed participation in his work – you never get the sense they’ve just turned up for a job and are posing blankly before moving onto the next stop in the conveyor belt of photo shoots and interviews they must be used to. They’re active contributors to the distinctive works. While his portfolio is a boggling list of familiar faces – there’s a twinkling look of enjoyment and engagement behind the well-known features that’s not so familiar.

From Tim Burgess and the White Stripes through to Amy Winehouse, Patti Smith, Hollywood A-lister Scarlett Johansson (there’s a great story about her and a location mix-up in the interview), Kings of Leon and Paul McCartney, Dean’s shot them all.

Perhaps my personal favourite of Dean’s stories is a tale of Libertines and Babyshambles musician Pete Doherty accidentally setting himself on fire in the studio having become, as Dean delicately puts it, a little worse for wear.

It’s a great example of how the most unexpected of situations can lead to creative gold – as Pete promptly re-donned the charred remains of his vest and closed his eyes in a poetic state of hazy euphoria – and Dean captured the moment on camera.

Pete Doherty © Dean Chalkley/NME/IPCMEDIA

Pete Doherty © Dean Chalkley/NME/IPCMEDIA

There are plenty more tales, and plenty of inspiration and ideas for photographers, music lovers, or just those who enjoy a good yarn in my interview, which was done for fab arts magazine Ideas Mag.

You can have a read of it here

And you can browse through Dean’s wonderful portfolio here

Dean Chalkley © Dean Chalkley

Dean Chalkley © Dean Chalkley

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