From Amy Winehouse to Jay-Z, Chalkley has been there to capture some of NME‘s most iconic images. To celebrate his exhibition ‘Never Turn Back’, which opens on December 3 at London’s theprintspace gallery, he’s hand-picked some of his favourite snaps and shared the stories behind these classic photographs.
In 2009, NME organised for Ian Brown to interview Jay Z in a London hotel and I was there to shoot their time together. The formality of the shoot made it feel like I was meeting the President of The United States of Hip-Hop.
Back in 2011, I pretty much spent a whole week with the Foo Fighters. This shoot took place in Soho, London, the day after Dave Grohl won Godlike Genius at the NME Awards, where I was shooting (as I do every year). That week I also went to the premier of Back and Forth (the Foos documentary) and got to see them play Wembley Arena.
Working with The Horrors always feels like a collaboration. They are a band with a very strong visual element which makes them great subjects. Reflecting the evolution of a great band like The Horrors puts you, as a creative, in a very unique position and the resulting images will be referred to in years to come.
A classic shot of the Gallaghers during the 'Don't Believe The Truth' era. Liam and Noel’s embodiment of rock and roll was unique, of course they have both gone on to make solo projects, but their collective swagger and personality contrasts in Oasis were great to behold.
Amy was so much fun. She was a great talent as well as having razor sharp wit. Not only is she missed for her music but also for her character. This image was used by NME for the stark tribute cover when she passed and for me, really captures how I want to remember her best - with a smile.
This was such a fun shoot to work on. A lot of people have asked me what Justin was like, but do you know what? He was a great laugh, totally up for it and engaged with the idea of making some good pictures. I stopped off and bought that fake knife the night before and took it along to the shoot. I whipped it out the bag and he loved it, as you can see.
Okay, technically I can’t tell you anything about this shoot as there is a secrecy agreement in place, but I can tell you I traveled to secret location in Paris in 2013 for it. Daft Punk’s mystery and iconic approach to what they do elevates them to the next level and makes them legendary.
I shot Noel in my studio in Kentish Town for this cover, then we went out for a walk in the surrounding streets for some shots. The local residents passed by with amazement and disbelief, that was pretty funny.
Dynamic and a bit scary. This shot was from 2011, when the band were set to release their fourth album, 'Velociraptor!'. The record's direction had a stronger emphasis on experimental structures and became their third UK number-one album. I like the hunting-pack feeling this picture gives you.
For this shoot, I went down to Devon to see Muse’s studio while they took a break from the recording of their fifth album 'The Resistance'. There were loads of shots from the session that were cool, but this one in particular has hints of both subtlety and modernity.
I joined the group on tour in Fort Lauderdale in 2011. The usually sunny state of Florida was hit by thunderstorms which threatened to disrupt the shoot. This was one of the most insane trips I’ve been on for NME, which involved dodging hobos, hanging out in trailer parks and going to a very rock and roll all-night party in a mansion with the band
This was taken just after Pete had unintentionally set fire to himself. I tossed the camera aside (along with his then publicist Tony Linkin) wrestled his vest off and stamped out the fire. Pete put what remained of the vest back on and this ethereal looking moment was the resulting shot.
Florence popped over to my studio and we did a bunch of lively and energetic photographs. I love her free flowing hair and the graphic simplicity of this shot.
This has become quite an iconic image of the band. It became clear that Jack was like a renaissance man, he really understands the power of imagery. An incredible force, not only physically but creatively too, and Meg was the perfect foil, quiet and a little more reserved but an important element in this beautiful balance.
Shot in London in 2012. Wow. Patti Smith. To work with such a person as Patti, the musician, writer, photographer and artist, is amazing, an inspiration.
The band work so well together and we had maximum fun on the shoot. This picture of Ellie captures an idea that she is free from the chains of being too cool-for-school. She’s a free spirit.