Twenty years after perhaps the most eerie album cover ever dropped, the man who took the photos for The Notorious B.I.G.‘s Life After Death recalls the day of the shoot.
In an interview with The Undefeated, photographer Michael Lavine shares his account of the prophetic photo shoot and the vibe he got from both Sean “Puffy-at-the-time” Combs and Biggie himself.
It’s not surprising to hear that Combs was very direct and urgent about what he wanted.
“Puffy [Combs] was very demanding,” Lavine told The Undefeated. “He did not mess around. I hired a location scout to find a graveyard. I took photos up to Puffy’s office and he was like, ‘These are terrible! Find a better graveyard!’ And he was right. They just weren’t dramatic enough. We had to push the shoot back a day. We scrambled, and we found the proper graveyard.”
Lavine revealed that the shoot took place at Cyrpess Hills Cemetary, which rests on the border of Brooklyn and Queens. It is also where the tomb of Jackie Robinson is located.
Just like how Puffy was accused of jumping in his artists’ video shoots, Lavine says that he also kept jumping in and out of the photo shoot to make adjustments to Biggie’s clothes.
“Puffy was yelling about the buttons,” he says. “Puffy kept jumping in. He was like a guy who wanted to be in the picture. He would literally be getting in a lot of the shots with Biggie.”
Lavine also said that the shoot almost didn’t happen twice. First, because Puffy hated the first location he picked because it wasn’t “dramatic” enough. Two, because a camera that he needed for the shoot was stolen out of his van earlier that morning.
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