A former paparazzi photographer recently quietly posted a small but stunning collection of Amy Winehouse portraits. Looking into the middle distance like a Renaissance-era saint, Winehouse is captured here in 2008, just before her life took a turn toward the irrecoverable dark.
Then working for Big Pictures when he made these photos, Eddie van der Walt has since left his shutter-bugging days behind, and is now a Bloomberg financial journalist.
Van der Walt recalls surprisingly tender moments between Winehouse and the pap. She herself worked as an entertainment journalist at World Entertainment News Network for a time, and he claims that once she was famous, she invited photographers into her flat for tea and asked them for help on occasion. But her relationship with the paparazzi was often fraught and occasionally violent — some blame their constant presence and pressure on aggravating her substance abuse and eating disorders.
Van der Walt wrote in a Reddit comment:
“I took 3,419 pictures during that time with Amy. Many were of happy moments. I still have pictures of the night she made us tea. And the night someone weirdly tried to steal her garbage and and and. But this portfolio was specifically selected to tell a story.
The period I worked with her was right after Back to Black hit the charts. It must have been around the time she made cover of Rolling Stone. Then, a few months later, when she was working on the theme for a new Bond film, it really became apparent how bad the situation was. She couldn’t carry the notes anymore. The project was killed off, I think Adele replaced her. (So that must have been Skyfall. And yes, this was about 2008. After that, I quit, I refused to work there anymore. (I’m now a journalist, I don’t take pictures for a living anymore.)
Anyway, various things were done to try and save her. Her workload was reduced, she was in and out of rehab. They did the vacation documentary with her dad. Then, for a couple of years, she completely withdrew from the lime light. Everyone thought she was getting better as I recall.
And then the news.
The day the music died, those words took on a new meaning for me.
But let me tell you for sure. Every pap that worked that door, we loved her, we protected her. We wanted the best for that girl. But there was nothing we could do for her.”