A CrazySexyCool day in Atlanta, TLC
In the 1990’s I had the pleasure of working for a small magazine called YSB, short for, “Young Sisters and Brothers.” It was the first national lifestyle magazine for African American youth, which was published by BET. It only lasted five years before BET unceremoniously shut it down in 1996. It was really a shame because it was a very nice magazine to work for. The creative directors Fo Wilson, and Lance Pettiford who worked out of Fo’s design consultancy, “Studio W” in New York City were some of best people to work for during the early 1990’s.
I had the opportunity to photograph several fun covers for them, one of which was the group TLC.
Back then we were all still shooting with traditional medium format cameras and film. Fo and Lance were always very open to alternate photographic processes and other creative solutions. This image was done with a process called, “cross processing,” where you would photograph using color negative film, but have it processed as if it were color transparency or slide film. The colors would be severely altered depending on which brand, and particular color film you used. For music industry related subjects, it was a very effective tool for creating covers that would be eye catching on magazine racks, or in record stores. The only complication was you had to shoot many situations with two or three different films at the same time. It was a lot of tedious work keeping track for the photo assistants. This combined with the different clothing variations that most music projects required, you could end up easily with over 100 rolls of film shot at the end of the day.
Ultimately the cover of this particular July 1994 issue was a very lively image shot on normal film, which you can see in a slide how here. But I always had a fondness for this image, which I believe may have appeared on an inside page.
As for TLC themselves, this photo session was in Atlanta and was during the time they were recording their blockbuster second album, “CrazySexyCool,” and they were stylistically in-between the unorthodox baggy casual condoms over the eye style of their first album, “Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip” and the much more glamorous look to come in the videos of their second album.
The shredded look they styled themselves with for this shoot interestingly can also be seen the original first video for the song “Creep” which has the same look. It was also shot in Atlanta around the same time as my session, but was never released officially in favor of the more romantic silk pajama style of a third video iteration of the song.
The girls themselves were totally fun to work with, the album title “CrazySexyCool” really was an accurate description of the three of them. While Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes showed up a bit late, but was really the life of the party when we all got going. It was just a few weeks before she had her heated falling out with then boyfriend Andre Rison, and the legal problems that followed. Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, was prone to periodic bursts of almost in puris naturalibus behavior at the shoot, while Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, always just kept very cool throughout.