Manhattan, August 1995
The opportunity to photograph Raekwon and Ghostface of the Wu Tang Clan came to me because the publicist at the Black Music Department of RCA called to see if I wanted to shoot "on-spec." Shooting on-spec means there is no official assignment. The record label and publicity department know you are a working press photographer, not on staff. They rely on your motivation to market the photo and consider it a win-win situation if you get their artist into the press.
Raekwon and Ghostface had just released their first duo album, Only Built for Cuban Links. Press and publicity was needed.
The Photographed Moment
I met Raekwon and Ghostface at the RCA Records offices, on West 47th & Broadway. I was introduced to the guys by their publicist. We decided to go down to the street and get a few shots.
We walked out of the building and crossed the street. We were at a side entrance of Broadway's Palace Theater. The side of the building had a thick, cool layer of blackish-green paint with no lines, marks, or graffiti which was slightly covered by stairs traversing up the wall.
I’m not sure how we started shooting. It was just me and my Canon T-90 film camera. Manual focus. No filters. No lighting. No assistants. No make-up or wardrobe.
We spent a few minutes by the wall. I set my bag down, got my camera together. I noticed them interacting with each other. As I raised my camera, they began to act and interact with each other for each shot. Yes, we got the “Yo’ Son” picture with hands in the camera lens — along with moments of deep personal reflection, peering deep into Ghostface’s eye, the prowess of his first Jesus Pieces gold medallion. There was an even more personal, quite reflective moment of Raekwon gazing into his own image in a window.
Not the typical “YO! HIP HOP!” moments. These guys let me into their space, their moments of true self, not in their brand character. They allowed me to capture their essence, making them and that moment timeless for us all to see.