PRINCE BY PHOTOGRAPHER JEFF KATZ - 1985Regular price £50.00
I arrived a week before filming got under way and I was in awe. Being in this place where Truffaut had made a number of his films with some of the leading lights of cinema felt like I was witnessing something legendary.
There were some technical things like locations and lighting and sets that were still being worked out, so I thought I’d have time to soak it in. I soon learned that Prince didn’t like his time to be idle. He was constantly at work, whether it was playing, recording, shooting a music video or a photo session. In the first week, his assistant announced that the formal photo shoot would take place that day. Two hours later, I was shooting Prince.
I didn’t have time to be nervous. The focus that kicked in was what I imagine people who do extreme sports feel. You know if you falter for even a second you will fail. So I focused, intently, and made sure I got what I needed.
He led me towards a huge soundstage and we decided to keep things simple: I set up a white background with some unfussy lighting. I was fascinated by stripped-back portraiture at the time so I knew I wanted an image with nothing getting in the way. Prince let hair and makeup fuss over him, and then sent them all out of the room when he was ready. He put some music on a small boombox, and told me he was good to go. Within three rolls of film, I knew I had the shot.
I captured exactly what I set out to achieve: something simple, dramatic and iconic. The way the delicacy of his face offsets the muscularity of his stomach and the drama of his hand gestures makes this photo special for me. It ended up on the cover of his album Parade.
It was the start of more than a decade photographing Prince. I’ve worked with people of immense talent throughout my career, but nobody compares to him. Prince was Prince from the moment he woke up to the moment he went to sleep: he was meticulous in his art at every moment. Not once did I see him lose his temper or cause a scene, and working with him over such a long time frame allowed me to witness him in so many different iterations. Every year would herald a whole new reinvention, both in his aesthetic and his sound.
We parted ways in 1996. It was an amicable split. I didn’t hear from him for years, but we caught up in the early 2010s about making new work. Then, inevitably, he got swept on to a different project, and we never had chance to reconnect after that.
When I heard the news of his passing, I didn’t believe it. It sounds absurd, but I just didn’t believe he would die. The man was so endlessly creative that it was impossible to imagine his death. I spent 11 years of my life photographing him. Now, I hope my archive captures something of his inimitable creativity.
Words by Jeff Katz.
Limited-edition print by Jeff Katz
Condition - In great vintage condition
Measurements - Width 27 inches Height 35 inches
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