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Before Frank Images 9 by Charles Moriarty
From Before FRANKPhotography Charles Moriarty

Unseen photos of a young Amy Winehouse to be published

Photographer Charles Moriarty is releasing images that he shot in the lead up to the late singer’s debut album, FRANK

In the years leading up to her untimely passing at just 27 in 2011, Amy Winehouse’s image was dragged through the press on a daily basis. Her talent was reduced to tabloid fodder that tended to feature her love life, partying habits and penchant for a barefoot walk through the streets of London, over her musical accomplishments.

Last year, documentary AMY shone a light on a more personal side of the late singer, balancing the good and the bad in an honest and candid look at the pressures that were put on her ever since she released her debut album FRANK (2003), whose album cover was shot by photographer Charles Moriarty.

Moriarty is now releasing a personal collection of his own photographs of Winehouse in a book titled Before FRANK. Currently Crowdfunding for the its production costs, the London photographer spoke with us as his campaign ticks into its final days – and shares several rarely seen photos of Winehouse below.

When you shot the cover for FRANK that was the first time you had met Amy. What was your initial impression of her?

Charles Moriarty: She was great, uncomplicated, honest and self-assured while also being a little nervous, I think we both were.

On that day, did you have any idea of the impact her music would soon make?

Charles Moriarty: I knew vocally she was incredibly talented, later on in the day we met I saw her sing in a small studio near Old st, and she was incredible, unique. But I don't think I ever could have foretold the heights that she rose to. 

The Amy that the public came to know in the last few years of her life was through the tabloids – this was a lot earlier on, where she had more freedom and privacy. What kind of ‘Amy’ can we expect to see in the book?

Charles Moriarty: The Amy in these pictures is both the girl and the icon, at times you see her fun side, her youth, but there are moments when all of a sudden you see ‘Amy Winehouse’ and the girl is gone. These images are extremely personal. She is true to herself in them – they’re honest to the core.

Did you continue your friendship with her and shooting her after this period?

Charles Moriarty: We remained friends until about 2005, so a couple of years.

How did you curate the images for this book?

Charles Moriarty: Well I have to admit this was really hard for me, thankfully I met with the book designer Sybren Kuiper a number of months ago in Amsterdam to talk about the book. I immediately knew he understood the essence of what I was trying to do, and initially I had thought to only give him stuff I had selected, but I decided to hand over everything to him, I think it was the best decision I could have made. He has curated them in a way I never could have, I was too close to see. I think I'll save the details as a surprise for when people get the book.  

Do you have a favourite image that is more special than the rest?

Charles Moriarty: I get asked that a lot, and the truth is it continues to change, there are images that I initially loved 13 years ago, but after years of maturing both as a person and a photographer, there are now other images that I consider more important, which is possibly due to my own nostalgia.

It might feel obvious but in your opinion and own words, what is Amy’s legacy to the UK?

Charles Moriarty: Her music is her legacy, the astounding lyrics she wrote, her exceptional voice, I really do think people will be listening to her forever. She gave us herself in those songs. 

What do you hope people see when looking at these photos?

Charles Moriarty: I hope people see the person she was at heart – a bright-eyed, vivacious and intelligent girl, on the road to becoming a star. I hope they see my friend.

Find out more about the book below and help support Beyond FRANK here