The Nick Drake Portfolio

Introduced in 1969 by record producer Joe Boyd of Witchseason Productions (for whom Keith had already photographed several artists), to shoot the sleeve for his first album, Five Leaves Left, Nick Drake and Keith immediately hit it off. As the photographer himself recalls, “This was (also) my first album photography and we discussed ideas in a Charlotte Street café. That afternoon I scouted locations and the next day we took the photographs. We were both naïve and enthusiastic – it was a time of great optimism.”

Nick’s fragile vocals perfectly suited his pensive lyrics, but the first album found only a limited audience, putting a degree of pressure on him with his second, Bryter Later. But… “Once again we were left to our own devices… and we probably took it all a bit too seriously; there wasn’t the same spontaneity. We got a few gems but visually we were marking time and our ideas didn’t fully develop.”

By 1972 and the release of Nick’s final album, Pink Moon, the singer had become almost painfully introverted and depressed, partly due to the relative failure of his first two LPs. Keith picked up on this when the pair were delivered to Hampstead Heath for what would be their final photo session. “It was a bleak, grey day and the session lasted barely an hour. (Nick) said very little, could not interact and found it difficult to look towards the camera: it was like I was intruding on private grief. We did not meet again.”

Still largely unrecognised commercially, Nick died of an overdose of antidepressants in November 1974, but Keith’s celebrated photographs of the tragically short-lived singer/songwriter live on, synonymous with the artist’s compellingly wistful music.

All images are available for sale as high-quality hand printed editions.