“Amy, this one’s for you”
The revealing interview and photographs
Charles Moriarty took these amazing photos in several shoots with his friend Amy Winehouse. One of the images became the cover for her album Frank. The book, Before Frank, was printed through a kickstarter dream in a limited release of 1500 copies. The book is now in it’s second printing. PROVOKR supported the project from the beginning and is pleased to present an exclusive interview with the photographer that is very poignant and personal about the friendship and work of Charles and Amy.
There are so many incredible, intimate images of Amy Winehouse. How many times did you shoot her and when and where?
There were only two shoots, the first in London and the second in New York, They were June and July of 2003
Why do you think she seemed to trust your vision of her? It really felt like that.
When Amy and I first met, we sat and talked in my kitchen, I wanted to know what she was looking for, after all this wasn’t a real shoot, this was just a test, but I would help out in any way I could. Amy told me she wanted it to be real, for the images to represent her, as she was and not as the music industry wanted to project her. I just went with that as a starting point, and everything very casual. I think it helped that both of us were at the beginning, unsure of our steps. She let me in.
Did you have fun? It feels like an undercurrent of warmth, fun and work.
Yeah, we had a laugh, I don’t think it ever really felt like work. It was an adventure of sorts, particularly when we shot in New York.
Was there Hair and Makeup on the shoot? It seems so relaxed and natural. First Beehive and cat’s eye liner? She was so revealing, I felt like I could almost smell the street, the laundry, the heat in the bathroom, the hairspray and her timidity.
No hair and make-up at all, it really for the most part was just the pair of us.
Did you shoot digital or film…….which do you prefer now? Why? What camera?
I shot on 35mm film, with a really pretty crap Canon from the 90’s. I still will always prefer analogue, it will always be superior to digital in my mind. I shoot on a mixture of cameras, I have an OM-2, for 35, and a Bronica medium format, among others.
Only one tattoo on her forearm? A feather, a leaf?
It’s a feather, I remember asking her about it over drinks in New York, but her reply evades me, sadly after 14 years some details are lost.
The guitar or guitars are featured prominently. Did Amy want to get across that she was musician and rocker?
There was the fender in London and the Gibson in New York. I think an artists instrument is like an extension of themselves, and in that way hold great importance. So I don’t think she was trying to come across as a rocker, more just as herself and those instruments were part of her.
Do you have personal favorites from the shoot? Why?
I do but they’ve changed over time.
What shots did you feel were most successful in bringing to life Amy Winehouse?
Oh, I think I’ll leave that one to the public.
What’s next for you? You have captured successfully a once in a lifetime chance to photograph the intimate side of a hugely talented artist. There are surely more adventures ahead for you.
I am sitting down next week to schedule the second book I’m publishing, more details of that soon. I think its going to be very exciting. Otherwise I will continue shooting, there are so many amazing artists out there I’d like to work with, so I hope there are lots more adventures ahead.