Dig, If You Will, Some Never-Before-Seen Pictures Of Prince In 'A Private View'

Afshin Shahidi misses Prince.

“Nothing seemed impossible, everything was possible for him,” he says. “And that’s just the way he lived his life and the way he communicated and wanted us to live our life.”

The Iranian-born Shahidi grew up in Minneapolis and met Prince in 1993 when he got a call to come to work on a music video shoot as a film loader. Shahidi didn’t know how to load film. But, it was for Prince(!) so like a true fan, he jumped at the opportunity to bask in the royal purple glow, and decided to sort out the film loading stuff on the fly.

That was the start of a journey that led to Shahidi becoming Prince’s personal photographer, a story he recounts, among others, in his recently released book, Prince: A Private View.

“Over the course of those 10 years when I worked my way up from a crew member to a cinematographer, Prince gave me those opportunities. And I came through, so that gave him the confidence to say, ‘Huh, I don’t know if you’re a photographer, but let’s see if we can make you a photographer,’ ” Shahidi says. “He really opened up a lot of doors for me coming up as a creative, and opened up the door for me as well to become a photographer and to grow as a photographer.”

The two collaborated so closely on the artist’s videos and still imagery that Shahidi bought Prince a camera at one point, because “he was always borrowing mine to take a snapshot or do something.” Shahidi told Prince jokingly, “I’m going to buy you this camera, and I’m lucky that you can’t clone yourself, because if you could clone yourself, then I would be out of a job.

“He was a fantastic photographer, he had a great eye,” Shadidi explains. “One, he was a true artist in every aspect of the word. But he had also been in front of the camera for so many years by the time I started working with him — both the motion picture camera and a still camera — and so he learned through osmosis.”

Prince: A Private View includes 250 photos — at least half of which have never been seen before — that span almost a decade of the star’s life. Here, Shahidi shares a few of his images and their stories.


Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, 2002.

Afshin Shahidi/Prince: A Private View

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Afshin Shahidi/Prince: A Private View

Shahidi: That was early on in my foray into photography with him. I had photographed his band for a tour book and I had photographed him for a tour book and then he had asked me to go on this tour with them. That was in LA during the One Nite Alone… tour, which was kind of a jazzier, cooler, less hit-laden tour. I was still kind of feeling out what it’s like to work with him, but also feel out what it’s like to shoot more documentary style versus as a cinematographer [where] everything that we were doing was planned out — you step here and you do this. This was more just being in the moment. So I was kind of feeling that out — when can I photograph him, when shouldn’t I, when do I keep space? …

Sound was the most important thing to him, the music was the most important thing. And his fans. The soundchecks could be really intense times or really cool times depending on how it went and how the venue sounded, if the equipment was working well. When everything was working together he was so relaxed and in such a great mood, and that’s one of those instances [where] I’m feeling a little more comfortable and confident in terms of approaching him and taking his picture. He was aware I was there, but he wasn’t posing or doing anything for me. Him closing his eyes was really just him absorbing the music. He would move around throughout the seats … to see how it sounded in different parts of the venue just to make sure it was equally as good in any section.


Prince is discussing everything from love to the constellations, 2004.

Afshin Shahidi/Prince: A Private View

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Afshin Shahidi/Prince: A Private View

Shahidi: That was a really fun and special night. That was an after party basically, I think in 2004, in New York City at a place called Butter. We were in the downstairs room … sitting in the back booth. I think Lenny Kravitz was there. I think Morris Day was there. [Prince’s drummer] John Blackwell was sitting next to him. And Prince was just relaxed. It wasn’t a typical time that I would pull out a camera where we’re just hanging out, where he’s not meant to be on, where he’s a little more guarded in terms of how he looks. He was just so relaxed. I had my camera and I pulled it out in a way where he could see that I had it and I wanted to take pictures. I waited to see if there was a reaction, like “you know what, not right now,” and he was just so relaxed he didn’t mind. He just kept talking and I snapped a handful of pictures.

But my favorite part of it is the memory. For others, they may like the image ’cause it’s Prince, but for me, it just takes me back to that moment when we were hanging out and talking, no cares or worries in the world. He was very animated in those discussions and what we were talking about. In terms of conversation, he had a point of view and was very animated and moved around a lot and I hadn’t really captured it until that moment.


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rehearsals, 2004.

Afshin Shahidi/Prince: A Private View

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Afshin Shahidi/Prince: A Private View

Shahidi: They were literally rehearsing at a little rehearsal stage off of that street we were on, and I don’t know how things were going. I was standing outside and he stepped out to catch some air. I had my camera and I photographed him kind of there near where he came out, sitting, and I asked him, “Hey, would you mind walking down the street with your guitar?” and he said sure. I think he was thinking about the rehearsals they were doing and just working something out in his mind about what he wanted to change or do better.


Backstage in Philadelphia, 2004. This shot was used to create the mural and cover for the album Lotusflow3r.

Afshin Shahidi/Prince: A Private View

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Afshin Shahidi/Prince: A Private View

Shahidi: It was in Philadelphia during the Musicology tour. I had rented kind of this fish-eyed lens and so I was looking for symmetrical things. It was difficult finding interesting places at some of these venues, ’cause they were just big concrete structures, the backstage areas. But I was in this hallway and I saw these carts that they stacked with chairs. Part of what I always liked to do with Prince, too, was photograph him in kind of unexpected situations, something that felt a little more industrial, like that shot. I asked him to stand there and I took a couple of pictures and I thought they looked cool. Then Prince took that image — he’s the one that really saw something else in it — and turned it into a mural … and then parts of it were used for an album cover.

But, for me the challenge always was — especially when I was on the road with him doing a tour where we don’t have a lot of variety — what do I do so that each city doesn’t feel like the last one? Part of it was done by changing lenses, part of it was done through finding cool locations and then part of it was done through just Prince being Prince.

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To Save Water, Should You Wash Your Hands Of Hand Washing Dishes?

Dishwashers have come a long way since this 1921 model, which was designed mainly to help minimize the drudgery of housework. But today’s sleek models are also designed with water conservation in mind.

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Bettmann/Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

When I was a kid, my mom always told me to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. This was especially true for dishware with tacky residue. Peanut butter, cream cheese, frosting — these adversaries were simply too powerful for the dishwasher’s meek cleanse. Today, still harboring a distrust of dishwashers, I tend to wash my dishes by hand.

But I often wonder about the consequences of my sponge-scrubbing ways — am I wasting water by avoiding the dishwasher, or saving it?

“I think it’s generally recognized that washing by machine would involve less water,” says Ed Osann, water efficiency project director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “In part, it comes down to someone’s washing technique.”

According to Osann, when people wash by hand, they often use the same method. They fill one sink basin with sudsy water for soaking and run the faucet in the other basin for rinsing. That’s an efficient way to do dishes from a time perspective, but not from a water perspective. The Department of Energy sets standards that a full-sized dishwasher can use no more than five gallons of water per cycle, and a compact dishwasher no more than 3.5 gallons. Osann says that’s probably less water than most people’s dishwashing styles use. Because heating water requires energy, using less water also translates to being more energy efficient.

Dishwashers today are not my mother’s dishwasher, according to Jennifer Amann, buildings program director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Dishwashers might have used 8-10 gallons per cycle 15 years ago, making them, in Amann’s words, “water hogs.”

But newer dishwashers have adopted a number of design changes to up their grime game. Dishwasher designers are continually refining the arrangement of dish racks, to optimally expose plates and utensils to the internal spouts of water that fill the machine during a cycle. But even more importantly, dishwashers now have sensitive technology to detect how murky the water in the machine is. A cycle begins using just a little water. After washing, the machine detects how murky the water is as a measure of how much food and grime are coming off the dishes. If the water is still cloudy, the machine adds a little more water, washes some more, and then tests again, repeating the incremental water increase until the water is clear.

Today consumers can buy dishwashers that use even less water than the Department of Energy standards require. Energy Star, an independent evaluator that partners with the Environmental Protection Agency to certify products as energy efficient, sets even lower water use targets for dishwashers. Consumer Reports and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy also provide energy-conscious recommendations to consumers.

Today, both Osann and Amann say people should scrape plates clean, rather than rinsing them, before putting the plates in the dishwasher. For small households that tend not to fill the dishwasher quickly, Amann suggests the rinse cycle, which generally uses only half a gallon of water and still effectively cleans dishes that haven’t been sitting in the dishwasher too long. (I tried this approach. My dishwasher’s rinse cycle worked well on peanut butter, but remnants of Greek yogurt stubbornly stuck around.)

For those who can’t break their manual scrubbing habits, Osann recommends filling up a large metal pot, rather than filling up the sink, to do washing in. Nonetheless, he makes a final plug for the dishwasher. “People could be more cognizant of their use of water while washing dishes by hand. Are people likely to do that when friends are over for Thanksgiving? Probably not.”

In other words, in the spirit of the holidays, it might be appropriate to give the machine a little trust.

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The #OptOutside Sales Pitch: Go Outdoors On Black Friday

The view from Mt. Eklutna in Chugach State Park. For Black Friday, the $5 parking fee is waived at Chugach and several other parks — from Mount Ascutney State Park in Vermont to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington.

Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media

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Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media

More than a dozen state and national parks have caught on to the #OptOutside movement. They’re waiving fees, or offering guided hikes and other enticements to bring people outdoors on Black Friday.

The movement started two years ago, when outdoor gear company REI shut its doors for the day on Black Friday and unveiled the Opt Outside campaign.

After a late breakfast that will probably include some turkey, Carrie Harris of Anchorage said she and her family plan to steer clear of the shops.

“My in-laws are in town and with our three little boys we’re going to get out and do some sledding and try to stay away from downtown…and just spend time together as a family outside,” she said on Wednesday.

If you’re looking for a place to “hike off” some of your Thanksgiving dinner, Lamar Valley is open year-round and has plenty of room to explore. #OptOutsidepic.twitter.com/u9QdjvbPcd

— YellowstoneNPS (@YellowstoneNPS) November 22, 2017

If you live in colder areas and do choose to venture outdoors, North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann offers 10 tips to make it more fun, and a little safer.

1. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. This is a big deal, even if you’re just walking in a park on the edge of town. If you turn an ankle or slip on ice and don’t turn up at the appointed hour, you want someone to respond promptly. Make sure you leave your information with someone responsible, who knows what to do if you’re late getting home and stick to the plan you’ve outlined.

2. Dress in layers and manage your temperature. A big winter coat is fine, but take it off when you warm up. That means having layers underneath — avoid cotton — that will protect your skin. The goal is to avoid getting hot and sweaty, which will make you cold and miserable later on. As you warm up, strip layers off. If you start feeling cold again, add layers back on. This can be intimidating at first. That big coat feels like a safety blanket. But the goal is to stay cozy, not to overheat.

3. Have the right footwear. Get good boots and socks that really work on your feet, keeping them dry. Invest in a set of “micro-spikes” that strap onto your boots and give you extra traction. These can be really handy while doing chores around the house — they’ve saved me on some icy days when the sidewalks are treacherous — but they also make you a lot more confident in the outdoors.

4. Drink lots of water and bring something to chew on. When you’re cold, you might not feel thirsty. You might even think it’s an icky idea to drink cold water out of your jug. But your body needs hydration to stay warm. So bring plenty of water and drink often. You should also bring food (especially if there are kids in your crew). It doesn’t have to be much, but always bring a little more than you think you’ll need. A quick hit of calories can make all the difference if you start to feel shivery.

5. Carry a really good light source. Darkness comes early this time of year. It’ll surprise you just how early. Tuck a flashlight or a headlamp in your day pack or your pocket. Check the batteries every time you take it out. Trails are already harder to follow in winter. Add darkness to the mix and it’s easy to lose your way. If part of your route is along a road, you might also want a flasher so cars can see you.

6. Don’t rely on your cell phone. Batteries die fast in the cold and you shouldn’t count on finding a signal. Plan for your trip as if your cell phone doesn’t exist. Ask yourself a simple question: If I can’t communicate with anyone, what do I need to be safe and happy?

7. Bring a friend. This is a big deal. For one thing, winter is just a lot more fun when you share it. Laughter and conversation keeps the cold at bay. But it’s also a lot safer. If something goes wrong in the outdoors, having a partner is your biggest asset. In wintry weather that’s even more true. The flipside of this is that if you do head out alone, be super careful. The risk is much, much higher.

8. Find the sun. Seriously, sunshine is treasure in the winter. So plan your outings at times when you can get a little sunshine on your face, or at least some real daylight. Sneak out for a quick 20-minute park walk on your lunch hour. Come into work a little early, so you can head out for a quick hike when the sun is still above the horizon. People talk about cabin fever in winter? The best cure is getting out into the fresh air while the sky is bright.

9. Go wild. By which I mean you should try find a little bit of nature to enjoy in winter. Walking the dog around your suburban block is fine, but woods and meadows and big parks are often magical and luminous. Start with short well-marked trails that get you away from buildings and pavement. Build up gradually to bigger adventures.

10. Have your cold weather kit ready. This is huge. One reason people don’t get out in cold weather is that can be a hassle. Where are my mittens? Where did I put my hat? Keep a winter day pack ready, with your flashlight, your power bars, your microspikes, your extra dry pair of socks, your jug of water, etc. Put it by the door or in the car. Next time a friend invites you out, or you find you have a free half hour on a sunny winter day, you’re out the door.

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Oscar Pistorius' Sentence Increased By 13 Years

Former Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius appeared at his trial in July 2016. On Friday, his sentence was more than doubled.

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Oscar Pistorius will be serving an additional 13 years in prison, after a South African court increased the double-amputee and former Olympic athlete’s sentence for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

In 2016, a judge sentenced Pistorius to six years in prison for shooting Steenkamp through the bathroom door of his house in 2013.

The government appealed that sentence, saying it was too lenient.

Justice Willie Seriti of South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal announced Friday that the five-judge panel had upheld prosecutors’ appeals, according to The Associated Press, and increased the sentence to 15 years, minus time served. Fifteen years is the country’s usual minimum sentence for murder.

Pistorius has 13 years and five months remaining, taking into account his time already in prison and under house arrest, the justice said.

Steenkamp’s family applauded the increased sentence. “This is an emotional thing for them. They just feel that their trust in the justice system has been confirmed this morning,” family spokesperson Tania Koen told Reuters.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp four times through a door on Valentine’s Day in 2013, but he argued that he had thought she was an intruder in his house.

This is the third time Pistorius has faced a different sentence in the case. He was found guilty of culpable homicide in September 2014 and served 10 months before being released to house arrest. An appeals court changed that verdict to murder in December 2015, according to the BBC.

Then in July of last year, he was sentenced to six years in prison. As NPR’s Bill Chappell wrote at the time, “Judge Thokozile Masipa cited ‘substantial’ mitigating factors in the case of the double-amputee athlete, saying that a long jail term ‘would not serve justice.’ “

The ruling is likely the end of Pistorius’ legal options. “Pistorius’ lawyers have just one avenue open to them if they want to challenge the new sentence handed down by the Supreme Court, and that is to appeal to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa,” the AP says. “Pistorius failed with an appeal to the Constitutional Court last year to challenge his murder conviction.”

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