The Secrets Behind Prince’s ‘Sign O’ the Times’ Album Cover Art
Prince knew that Jeff Katz had the cover shot for Sign O' the Times as soon as the shutter was released.
“The shoot was pretty much over, and I had an apple box sitting in front of the camera, he just walked up to me with a smirk,” Katz told Vogue. “He sat on it, put his face right up to my lens, and so I shot it. Without even seeing it, he laughed and said, ‘That’s the cover.’”
Katz, who also shot the cover photos for Parade and the Family's album as well as other Prince projects, remembered that the photo shoot took place in a warehouse in Eden Prairie, Minn. A drum kit was set up on a riser, and the room was filled with props from Prince's home.
“The props had been taken from his apartment. Those are his ideas, clothes; the style and accessories came from his artistic vision for the project and himself," Katz said. "He had a whole wardrobe department at Paisley Park that worked round the clock on his entire look, and it’s not like he wore stage clothes then throws on a T-shirt and jeans. That was his look 24/7.”
“There is no photo manipulation, no composites. It was all done old school,” he continued. “Every image you see exists on a piece of film; the colors are exactly how they appeared in life.”
Katz was only a few years out of college when he first worked with Prince in 1985, and feels that his youth served him well because he was willing to go along with anything Prince suggested. That approach, he said, has guided him throughout his career.
“He taught me so much about how to think on my feet and create at a moment’s notice, how to make things happen organically,” Katz concluded. “I’ve carried those lessons to each photo shoot that I’ve done since. It was a baptism by fire; people always ask if I was nervous [working with him], but you didn’t have time to be nervous. We fully embraced it and just dove right in. I remember every shoot we did and place we traveled like it was yesterday.”