Prince Like You’ve Never Seen Him Before: The Star’s Longtime Photographer Shares Rare Photos and Private Memories
The Man Behind the Lens
In 1985, photographer Jeff Katz got a voice mail he’d never forget.
An assistant to Prince’s manager at the time called asking if he’d like to fly to France to be the star’s personal photographer on the set of his film Under the Cherry Moon.
“I played that message back a few times,” says Katz, who was 25 years old at the time. “Of course I said yes.”
That marked the start of more than a decade Katz, now 59, would spend shooting the icon.
“Every shoot was exciting,” he says. “He always pushed the envelope creatively.”
With the blessing from Prince’s estate, Katz is sharing his art and memories of the legend (who died of an accidental overdose at age 57 in 2016) for the first time in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Here, Katz is seen in a heart-shaped mirror taking a photo of Prince on his “Sign o’ the Times” tour in 1987.
“That’s the only picture I have with him, period,” Katz says. “I hold that picture in great honor.”
Got the Look
Katz snapped this shot of Prince on the set of his film, Under the Cherry Moon, in Nice, France. The film marked Prince’s directorial debut and stars him as a gigolo who swindles wealthy French women until things get complicated when he falls in love.
“Even though he was dressed as his character, I felt like he was really looking at me,” Katz says of the photo. “I think I was able to shoot the real guy.”
Mr. Tambourine Man
“That’s a 100 percent genuine smile,” Katz says of the often serious star, on-set for his “Mountains” music video in 1986.
Katz captured this rare candid of Prince while backstage on his “Lovesexy” tour in 1988.
“Backstage in this particular place, he loved to shoot pool,” Katz says. “You didn’t see a lot of those casual, more candid moments of him actually doing regular stuff.”
“He loved to play basketball,” he continues. “You know, everything that we all did. He just did it looking like Prince.”
Prince sat in front of his father John L. Nelson’s ’67 Ford T-Bird for a shoot taken on the lawn of his Chanhassen, Minnesota home in 1989.
“He was really close with his father,” Katz says. “I remember his father was there on a lot of photo sessions. They had a really good relationship so that was really cool that it was with his car.”
A Star Onstage and Off
“This is probably one of the most unusual pictures because he’s sort of in between hair and makeup and really natural,” Katz says of this photo he took of Prince at his Minnesota home and studio compound Paisley Park in 1989. “It’s one of my favorite pictures.”
“Unlike a lot of celebrities, these looks aren’t just show looks,” he adds. “This is how he dressed at his house, how he woke up in the morning.”
Before a show in Stockholm in 1990, Prince asked Katz to come to his dressing room to snap some photos of him getting ready to hit the stage.
“These weren’t set up, so he’s actually putting on his makeup,” Katz says. “So if you want to talk about a candid moment, that’s about as a real candid as you’ll get.”
To see more rare photos of Prince, visit princebyjeff katz.com.