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How the Cover of Nirvana's Nevermind Was Shot

Nirvana's 1991 album Nevermind brought fame to the band and grunge music to the world. The cover image immediately captivated the public eye. It shows a baby, representing the human race, in instinctive and lifelong covetousness.

The photo was a challenging one for Kirk Weddle. To execute his premise, he called up a friend who was the father of a 4-month old baby. He had about 15 seconds to capture the baby before he started bawling. Flashbak describes the shoot:

“A 4-month-old baby was cast and I conducted the shoot with just his parents and a lifeguard present. I placed a camera with a motor drive , in an underwater housing, mounted on a tripod at the bottom of a pool. Since kids are always an unknown at shoots, I did several prelight and prefocus passes with a doll. Once I felt I had the framing, light, and exposure dialed in; the parents slipped the child into the water. I took seven frames on the first pass and four frames on the second. As expected, the baby started to cry, this had been the babies first time underwater, and we wrapped the shoot. The dollar bill and the fishhook were stripped in in post. The result was one of the most iconic album covers in the last 25 years. The music inside wasn’t too bad either; to date it has sold over 30 million copies.”

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