PHOTO: Reggie Casagrande/Corbis Outline.
Today, Reggie Casagrande, aside from being one of the only women we know named Reggie, is the founder of online enterprises Lipsticktracez and theFETE—where photographers, designers and other cultural architects congregate to share ideas and display works. But, in 2000, she was a newbie photographer for the Alternative Press on assignment to shoot a shy and charismatic new artist named Eminem. Had she known he was going to be so big, she probably would have brought more film.
I probably did about three or four setups with him while we were there—I only had him for about an hour. It was at the Paramount Hotel in New York, in the theater district. During the time he had a lot of weird death threats on him, so he was really incognito in public, traveling with entourage, etc. Now everyone travels with an entourage but then it was kind of unusual for a young artist to do that. We had a couple of rooms an we shot in the hall—it was mellow, quiet, he’s pretty shy—and then we went back into the suite where his crew was and he just started rapping and totally freestyling. I think it was his way of relaxing and unwinding and I just shot it.
It was when he was still relatively new to the game, but you could totally sense the charisma about him. He was very charismatic and, when he just had this verbal outpouring of song, kind of amazing. I didn’t realize then how amazing it was. It was kind of like, Okay… because you never know when you shoot a new artist if they’re gonna go on to become iconic or if they’re just gonna go away. He was extremely talented, very charismatic, sweet, charming, polite—all the things you want in someone [as a photographer]. There was no drama. And to this day I’m still regretting that I didn’t take more pictures of him because I didn’t have much time. But I could have probably pushed for more; that happens sometimes. I’m sure you hear that from other photographers: Ugh, if I’d only did this setup!
I really wanted to take him outside; I probably could have pushed for it. I think now, in hindsight, if I ever had an opportunity like that with a young artist again, I would push for the shot I really, really wanted to do. But I kinda was like, Oh, you know, he’s comfortable in here, so let’s just shoot in here. But I really wanted to take him out on the street and shoot him with his hood [on] and all of his crew around him, but it probably would have caused an uproar.
This was over ten years ago and I was alone with just my assistant and him. There was no real crew. This was in the beginning of my career, too, so it was one of those things: There’s no budget, we want you to shoot this new artist, go do it. I had heard that there was a lot of talk in the clubs and on the streets that there were a lot “death threats” against him, but I didn’t really want to talk about that with him because I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable or anything. I could sense that he was already kind of uncomfortable with fame, so to speak, but he seemed totally happy to do the shoot. [He] had to be directed a little bit, but he was game. He probably would have sat there and just kept shooting, but it was also when I was shooting film and didn’t really have any money to shoot it, so was like, I only have eight or nine rolls of film, so I’m gonna shoot that and that’s it—instead of really, really shooting as much as possible before the celebrity leaves. But hindsight is 20/20, right?