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The Sad Tale Behind One Of The Most Famous Photos Of Tupac

If he weren’t shot dead in 1996, Tupac would have been 45 now. However 20 years on, he’s still as influential as he ever was – if not more so.

There were many sides to the man that some people relish in delving in to. They say he was unstable at the best of times but then they also say he was a beautiful soul who just wanted to create something that had meaning. The son of black panther activists is now remembered in his music and a whole plethora of pictures that tell new stories every day.

On the set ofPoetic Justice, photographer and first African American to be accepted into thefamed photo collective Magnum, Eli Reed, was asked to take pictures of the production.

It was there that he wanted to capture a different side to the notorious (bad choice of words) Tupac.

First and foremost, I wanted to shoot him as a human being. Any other kind of shot, I realize that any photographer can bring that. I simply wanted to document that moment and that person in the moment. 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. See with your eyes and your mind

When I asked Tupac to take this photograph, he just nodded and started to take his shirt off,”Reed says.“And I said, Stop. I just felt a sadness in that moment. I cant quite explain it

Tupacs music almost brought me to tears, he says. I grew up in a housing project in Perth Amboy, N.J. playing stickball. He was telling stories I knew. Different generations, but still.”

He said that later on hewas reminded by his former assistant that he sad something fairly poignant “I muttered, Hes either gonna be dead or in jail in a year… Im so saddened that both things turned out to be true

It’s an amazing photo that captures the humanity in Tupac. The other side to him that not many explored. He was a truly impactful man and his legacy is beyond compare… him and Biggie.

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