Respect The Shooter: Janette Beckman




I was doing this for the album Unfinished Business. I’d shot EPMD’s first album cover, I shot their second. I think I shot all their album covers. I shot them before in a snow pile in Central Park in the middle of the winter. That was the first one. Then I shot them in a studio in I think Babylon, Long Island for the second. I think this was the third one. We knew each other pretty well by then, and they were like, “Oh, there’s this spot out in Long Island and we want to shoot it there.” This is the days before cell phones. I didn’t have a pager, I didn’t have anything, but we’d arranged to meet. It was the winter, and we’d arranged to meet in this deserted spot by the ocean some time like around noonish. So I get there, and I’m looking at the spot and I see this dead end sign, and I thought, “Oh, this looks brilliant!” And I’m waiting for them, and I’m waiting for them, and nobody turns up. And I’m there, and I had my assistant, and we had an idea. We knew they were coming in their cars. We had an idea of how we were going to put the cars and everything. And you know, it was winter, and it started to get dark and I started to get in a big panic because I couldn’t get a hold of them. I found a phone, and I managed to find somebody at the record company who then like around 2 o’clock said, “Oh, I think Parrish [Smith] went to get his rims shined or something in the Bronx.” I was like, “Okay but it’s going to be dark in like an hour! I need to get this album cover done!” They were like, “Well you know, they should turn up! We can’t get a hold of them.” So I’m just waiting and waiting. The sun’s starting to basically go down, and I hear this engine roar and up comes Parrish, and then shortly thereafter, up comes Erick Sermon. The sun is just about to set and I’m like, “Quickly! Put your cars in a V shape!” You know, there’s that little line going down the middle of them? They just kind of jumped out of the car, and I’m looking at them like, “Wow, what are they wearing?” Because to me, I’d never seen any clothing like it! It kind of looked like ladies pajamas to me, and I was like, “Wow. This is like some crazy new style!” I had no idea! They just posed on the car and they looked so chill. I mean they really are chilling. They’ve got their chains, they’ve got their hats, and I actually just love the picture. It turned out to be a great shot. I did the whole album cover shoot in basically ten minutes, and the sun went down and that was that. We were done. A lot of people love this shot. They think it’s a bit iconic, and a lot of car freaks love it because of the rims on the cars. Apparently these rims are very special, and the cars are special, so it has a lot of meaning for different people. Of course the album is an amazing album. Basically, just one of those moments when you’re waiting around for people and they just sneak in, in the nick of time. That was the story of my life in the ‘80s!

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