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The Story Behind the Most Famous Portrait of Rapper Tupac Shakur


When photographer Danny Clinch photographed rapper Tupac Shakur, he had no idea how big those photos would get. But three years later, when Tupac was killed, it was his portrait that ended up on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine—one of, if not THE, most famous photo of Tupac ever taken.

Clinch tells the story behind this photo and the photo shoot that produced it in a short video interview with TIME.

One of the most interesting tidbits from the interview is how Clinch was keeping a hopeful eye on the future even as he was shooting Tupac for what was to be just a small profile piece. “It was Rolling Stone magazine and I was thinking to myself, ‘Oh man, if this guy ever blew up, I would have this great photograph,'” he tells TIME. “It could end up on the cover.”

Three years later, when Shakur was killed, Clinch’s “pipe-dream” became a reality in a rather darker way than he had thought. One of his portraits did make the cover of Rolling Stone, and the photo shoot would go down in music history as one of the most iconic in Hip Hop history.