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Remembering Prince

Famed photographers Inez and Vinoodh recall their time with the departed musical genius

In 2013, Inez and Vinoodh—the couple whose iconic celebrity portraits have made them stars in their own right—spent two days with Prince. That shoot gave them this never-before-seen image, and also some unforgettable memories of the departed musical genius, which Inez shares below.

“He was doing two nights of concerts at the Hard Rock in Vegas, so Vinoodh and I built a little studio in the kitchen of the green room. We watched the shows and photographed him between, and basically just spent 48 hours backstage with Prince. For me personally, it was a dream, because I remember so clearly when I first heard him on the radio as a teenager growing up in Amsterdam. Around 1978 there was a station called “Mouse” where all the cool new songs were being played. I remember Prince’s song coming on and thinking, Geez, who is that? From a very young age I was obsessed with his music.

One of the things that struck me the most about him was just how decisive he was. For the first set of pictures we did, he came fully dressed in the costume that he was about to go onstage in, so we took five shots of him and he said, ‘Let me see.’ He looked at the back of my camera and was like, ‘Delete, delete, delete. There’s your picture.’ And in the end he was right. Of that whole two-day shoot, that was the picture that ended up being the cover of V magazine. He saw it right away and he always seemed to know exactly what he wanted. We came with a huge amount of clothes for the shoot, and we came back from our lunch break and discovered that he had gone through everything we brought and decided on the clothes he wanted to wear. He had already styled the looks with a shirt underneath or a certain hat or pair of sunglasses—he was fully prepared for everything. We were impressed because he had such a small team; he had a manager and a bodyguard and his girlfriend, and that was it. There were so few other people around him, which is what we liked most about him—how approachable he was, and ready to meet new people and just talk and hang out.

It truly felt like he was being himself, and yet he was exactly like you would see him in videos. He was cheeky and sexy and really smart and ready to play—you always got that feeling from his music. I remember him sitting next to me on the couch and taking off his boots to try on another pair that were made for him by Donatella Versace, and you know those boots are kind of his signature iconic look—the boot with the high heel. So I just remember thinking, Oh, my God, I’m sitting here on the couch next to Prince taking his boots off. To me, the most amazing part of our job is that we have a chance to meet so many of our heroes, and we have these short but very intense bits of time with them to take the most iconic photograph we can. I will always feel extremely lucky that we had that moment with him.”

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