Michael Jackson's photographer reminisces

SILVER LAKE, Calif. "That was the look that he liked, the back of a tour book for the HIStory tour," said photographer Bill Nation.

Bill Nation, 54, has stories to tell about the year and a half he spent working and traveling with Michael Jackson. He started with studio work, shooting the singer during rehearsals and performances.

"The great thing about being with Michael, you have complete access, you work with security guys, he wants you to be next to him, he wants you to be up close and personal," said Nation.

Nation was impressed by the skill, showmanship and discipline that went into creating Jackson's performances.

"He was very precise in that he hired the best choreographers," said Nation. "There were lots and lots of rehearsals. It wasn't just like this was just pulled together."

Jackson understood the power of his image, but offstage, he was completely different.

"He was a really shy guy, he was very shy," said Nation. "He came alive on stage."

One of the highlights of Nation's work was traveling with Jackson when the singer performed at the Sultan of Brunei's 50th birthday party. The photographer was shocked when after the show, Jackson decided to make an unscheduled visit to South Africa.

"Turns out we drive up to the outside of Nelson Mandela's house, who was having a birthday party," said Nation. "We go in and we go,'Mmr. Mandela, Michael Jackson,' and Michael gets out of the van with his umbrella and his hat and comes in and spends about an hour or so."

It was during that trip that Nation saw Jackson knew how to have fun.

"He was playful," said Nation. "They had a lake there, and we're in boats and the video crew is supposed to shoot everything. He goofed, he got running a speed boat, and they were in another speed boat and they were just... [laughter]."

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