Portraits of the Artist

by Kimberly P. 

“Somebody famous had a birthday today. . .”

–Prince, “June”

After two years, it still feels as if I’ve only just learned of his passing.

Prince: an enigma, a mystery, but most of all, a musical artist with few equals.

One of the comforting things to emerge after his death are the many tributes to his artistry, work, and life. Last April, I paid tribute to Prince by reading memoirs and biographies written about him. While this year I’ve undergone my annual musical pilgrimage (listening to all his music from his first album, For You until his last album HITnRUN Phase Two ), I wanted to shake things up today.

It’s his birthday, after all (6/7/1958).

Memoirs and biographies flooded the world the year following Prince’s death. It seems in year two, photographers are stepping front and center and I’ve been devouring their candid and thoughtful books.

Prince: A Private View by Afshin Shahidi


This is perhaps one of my favorite compilation of photographs of Prince. Featuring never-before-seen photos, and intimate recollections, Shahidi reflects on what it was like being in Prince’s world. Reading his thoughtful vignettes and flipping through Shahidi’s photos revealed a completely different side of Prince. Less a mega star and more a typical human being. When Prince looks directly at the camera, I’m struck by the depth of his gaze,  the slight smirk upon his lips, the elegant guitars that are never far from his fingertips.

Shahidi invited me to join him behind the camera, and I am glad I did.



Picturing Prince: An Intimate Portrait by Steve Parke


Rare and stunning, the collected photos by Prince’s official art director, Steve Parke’s book flows like water. Image after images capture Prince’s magnetism, chameleon-like style and mysterious aura. Like Shahidi, Parke also shares fascinating stories about the Prince he knew–from his humor to his late night writing frenzies and everything in between.





It’s amazing how two different photographers can take a picture of the same subject and yet imbue it with completely different energy. Both men manage to capture the fluid personality of Prince throughout the years, and their work is a treat for any fan to see.

Remember, if you want to make your own musical pilgrimage, you can stream Prince’s music using Hoopla.



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