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Never-Before-Seen Photos of Biggie Smalls Found, Photographer Says

 Photographer David McIntyre said he found negatives from a 1994 session with rapper The Notorious B.I.G. with never-before-seen photos.
Photographer David McIntyre said he found negatives from a 1994 session with rapper The Notorious B.I.G. with never-before-seen photos.
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David McIntyre

BROOKLYN — He’s taking these negatives to positive.

Twenty one years after photographing the Notorious B.I.G. on the streets of Brooklyn, photographer David McIntyre said he discovered more than a dozen negatives of the late hip-hop legend taken before the rapper hit the limelight.

Now he’s hoping to showcase the shots in a free exhibition, featuring the pictures in a larger-than-life format.

McIntyre, 54, said he snapped photos of Biggie Smalls for Interview magazine in 1994, months before the debut of the rapper's first album “Ready to Die.” The Brooklyn native, whose given name was Christopher George Latore Wallace, was shot to death in Los Angeles in 1997. 

After delivering the prints to the publication, McIntyre said he lost the negatives.

The magazine’s featured picture shows the rapper early on in his career, staring seriously into the camera with one hand on his chin.

McIntyre said he tried to find the negatives over the course of several years to no avail — until recently.

While sorting through clothes for donation, he found an old jacket carrying an envelope filled with 15 frames of the Notorious B.I.G. 

“I knew I had to do something with them, but throwing them up on the Internet just didn’t appeal to me,” McIntyre said. “It deserved more than just to appear on a Google image search.”

In the summer of 1994, the photographer found himself in DUMBO for a photo shoot, where LL Cool J welcomed him into a studio to meet Biggie.

“He was a very shy guy,” he said of the Brooklyn rapper. “But once we started shooting he was definitely involved in the process and very serious about looking at them to improve the shot.”

The never-before-seen photos include scenes of Biggie standing in front of a backdrop of the World Trade Center's iconic twin towers and the Manhattan Bridge, the photographer said.

Others show the hip-hop artist smoking a joint on a street corner, or pointing his hand in the shape of a gun toward McIntyre's Mamiya RZ67 camera.


David McIntyre said he recently found negatives of never-before-seen photos from a 1994 shoot with rapper Biggie Smalls. Photo credit: David McIntyre

Some shots show a side of the rapper unfamiliar to the public, featuring a rare capture of emotion.

“One of my favorites is him looking down with a thoughtful expression, and it’s really angelic, definitely something that would not be associated with future images of Biggie Smalls or his album covers,” the photographer said.

“It’s probably one of the most precious.”

The rapper seemed to be experimenting with his persona during the shoot, trying out different looks that included an attaché case, McIntyre said.

McIntyre is looking to raise $28,000 on Kickstarter for large prints of the pictures to be displayed for free in a New York City gallery.

“The bigger the better,” he said. “His name is big and the details contained in the negatives are huge.”

“I’m not claiming they’re 15 masterpieces, it’s more about the experience of the whole shoot. This is my little time I spent with him, and I think that’s a fairly unique thing.”

McIntyre compared the collection to tracks on an album. He hopes viewers will be able to relate to individual shots and have their favorites.

“I just want to communicate to people my respect for Biggie and Brooklyn and share it with people who feel this way," he said. "That’s my mission.”