It struck me in everything I read, that there had never been a comprehensive photographic study of Nick Drake. It also became clear that there was only one place to start. You could count the number of professional photographers who had worked with Nick Drake on one hand, and the late Keith Morris’ archive was by far the single most important source.
I first met with Clare Morris to discuss her late husband’s archive in January 2012. As I sat in her kitchen, we chatted as she made coffee. All the time, I was incredibly aware of four grey boxes sitting on the edge of the table. The labels on the boxes told me that they contained Keith Morris’ Nick Drake archives – negatives, transparencies, contact sheets, and more.
With Clare’s coffee coursing through my veins, my excitement was growing, and at one point, I just couldn’t wait any longer. I remember saying, “Clare, you know, I’ve got to get into these boxes! ” What I saw amazed me. Around 500 images, mostly black and white but some colour, most previously unpublished.
Some of Keith Morris’ photographs had appeared, in a piecemeal fashion, over the years in magazine articles or on the liner notes of CD reissues, and in the picture sections of Nick Drake biographies. But not many. It appeared that most of Keith’s photographs of Nick Drake had never been published, and certainly never in the large format presentation that this book allows.
Once I started digging through the material with Clare, I knew, with complete certainty, that this was a body of work that deserved an incredible book, and one that I knew we could do absolute justice to in our ultra large 24 x 36 inch format. What a great moment. Happily, Clare felt the same way, and we formed a close-knit team, along with Keith and Clare’s daughter Sevrin, and renowned designer David Costa.
Helpfully, the archives also contained prints made by Keith during his lifetime. Keith was a master printer, working in his own darkroom to produce exquisite silver gelatin photographs directly from his original negatives. That was important, as it meant that we had something to match to when printing the images in the book, and it meant we could produce something as close as possible to how Keith made his prints.
In this book we present approximately 200 photographs. Not everything – because less is more, and we wanted to ensure the finished product represents the very best work from Keith Morris’ Nick Drake sessions.
I hope we can tempt you.
Guy White, publisher, Ormond Yard Press.