Francine Winham (1937-2013)
Francine Winham was born in London in the late 1930s, the middle child of a self-made property tycoon. When war broke out in 1939, her father arranged for the family to be evacuated to the relative safety of Colorado in the United States, a move that began for her a lifelong transatlantic relationship. In the late forties, the family returned to London and Winham was sent to the Mitford-Colmer Seminary for Young Ladies in Belgravia.
Every weekend, unbeknown to her parents, she would host parties at the family's Mayfair home for members of London's soon-to-be smart set. Friends such as the young Michael Caine and Terence Stamp (who were then sharing a flat around the corner) would come and socialize, drinking and dancing to the latest jazz sounds.
It was around this time that she met music impresario Chris Blackwell. Blackwell offered her a job as his PA, and so she became the first employee of Blackwell's legendary Island Records.
Bitten by the photography bug and eager to rekindle her American roots, Winham moved to New York in 1963 to study and began shooting the stars she had long admired, selling the results to magazines such as Downbeat and the Village Voice. “Jazz clubs were perfect for me. I liked to get close, really close, and see the expression on a performer's face. That's what really interests me, the intimacy.”
It was during this time that Winham developed what she called her “fever” technique. By holding the shot still for half a second and then moving the camera, she created a blurred free-form image that mirrored the dynamic improvisation of the performer (a technique later imitated on jazz record covers and in magazines).