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Tupac Shakur would have been 45 years old this year had he not been killed on 7th September, 1996 in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas.
The 20 years following his death have seen portrait after portrait of the iconic rapper continue to tell his story but none more so than one taken by Eli Reed.
Reed was the first African-American to join photo-collective Magnum and was desperate to capture a unique portrait of Tupac.
In 1992, Reed was lucky enough to be commissioned to photograph the set of Poetic Justice. This was a film starring Janet Jackson and Tupac.
He took three shots of the rapper using his Hasselblad 4x5 camera. This was the same camera he used to photograph the civil rights protests in America.
Speaking to Vikki Tobak for Complex, Reed said: "First and foremost, I wanted to shoot him (Tupac) as a human being.
"If I started thinking about this image being a bigger part of his legacy or whatever, I would have stopped myself like, 'Stop it, asshole. Just be in the moment and take the photo'. I go by gut feeling."
Apparently when asked to take the photo, Tupac simply nodded and began taking his shirt off. Reed told him to stop and the iconic photo we now have of the rapper was taken.
A huge fan of Tupac's music, Reed said his upbringing was extremely similar to that which was described in the rapper's music and that it had brought him to tears on occasion.
Many years later, Reed's assistant at the time reminded him of what he'd said following the shoot. He had apparently said that Tupac would 'either be dead or in jail in a year'. He was devastated that both turned out to be true.
Reed heard of Shakur's death on the radio and was, naturally, deeply saddened by the news.
"He was an original, a force of nature. It's such a loss. I wonder what he would have given us if he was still here," he said.
We all wonder the same thing.
Words by George Pavlou
Topics: Tupac Shakur
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