A Night Walk Leads to Photographing Prince History

Prince Symbol on Orlando Apopka Billboard

Last Thursday night, I decided to take a walk. Normally, I take walks during the early evenings. Yet, this night touched close to 12 AM.

Still, I took a walk anyways. At this time of night, I was running the risk of getting mugged or being harassed by police officers. Yet, I didn’t care. A lot of personal things were running through my mind. Plus I was sad my favorite musician Prince died. He died earlier that day. So, I figured fuck cops and muggers. I was taking my walk, damn it.

Most of my travels usually consist walking down a sidewalk near State Road 414. State Road 414 is a Central Florida road that travels from Maitland to Apopka. Actually, Maitland is the first stop. Then, the road hits Altamonte Springs. Next, it travels through Lockhart. Then, it hits Apopka. Or vice versa.

I was walking near the Apopka area. Near the end of the sidewalk, a billboard flashes advertisements for local businesses. In the past, it flashed things like “Pray for Our Troops.”

This night, I was caught off guard. As it flashed various advertisements, it also flashed the Prince symbol amongst falling purple rain. It didn’t even mention Prince. Yet, if you had any knowledge of Prince, you would know exactly who the sign was referring to.

Back in the nineties, Prince had a falling out with his record company. The company placed limits on how many albums he could release at a given time. If he wanted to release more albums, he couldn’t use the name Prince. So instead, Prince started using the symbol when he released albums.

Back in 2000, he went back to using his real name. Yet, many people still associate Prince with the symbol.

Seeing the symbol is almost like an insider thing. Only you and true Prince fans would know the meaning. Of course, many people who hated Prince probably know what the symbol means too.

I told myself I just had to photograph the billboard. If I didn’t do it then, I probably would never get a chance to photograph it. By the time I actually get a second chance, the symbol may be gone. So, I walked home and grabbed my camera.

When I returned to the billboard, I didn’t care how long it was going to take. My mind focused on getting the best photo possible. I thought about bringing a tripod. Yet, because the tripod would have been for long exposure shots, I left it home.

When using a tripod, I set my camera on it’s timer. I did not want to attempt timing my camera to when the symbol showed up on the billboard. I probably never would have gotten it right.

Instead, I used my Canon 10D, a flash and a long Kodak lens. During the picture taking, I sometimes used the flash. Sometimes I didn’t. Other times, I used the Kodak lens.

After thinking I photographed the best I could, I went home.

At home, I immediately uploaded the pics on my laptop. I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t all that impressed. Some pics were too dark. Some were too fuzzy. Yet, among the twenty-something odd pics, I found one I was happy with.

As for getting a second chance? I was right. By the time I walked near the billboard again, the Prince symbol was gone. I saw the other same advertisements flashing on the billboard, but not the Prince symbol.

Yea, I could’ve been mugged or harassed that night. Still, with my camera, I was able to capture the billboard Prince tribute.

To me, the shitty pic I took is history. I recorded something significant that happened on the day my favorite musician died. Plus I didn’t even have to travel far to record it. All it took was a fifteen minute walk.

About Patrick Scott Barnes

Most of Central Florida knows Stone Crazy (Patrick Scott Barnes) as a poet. Yet, he also photographs, DJ and blogs. The rest of the time, he's guzzling booze in a Central Florida bar.
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