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Iconic Images of Bands and Musicians Reshot in Their Unique Areas

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, September 1980. Picture by Kishin Shinoyama

Photographer Steve Birnbaum has been recreating music historical past by photographing photos of musicians and bands within the actual location the place they had been initially photographed. The challenge began in 2010, and since then, he has coated 500 to 600 places taking pictures from 100 to 150 days in a 12 months.

Birnbaum begins with an present picture of musicians. Subsequent, he tracks down the precise location the place it was shot, positions the picture in his hand in order that the positioning within the image and the background line as much as make one seamless composition, after which captures one other picture.

“I began the challenge again in 2010, working from household images with the identical idea of matching them up with the places they had been taken,” Birnbaum tells PetaPixel. “I used to be impressed by a photographer who was photo-blending conflict pictures with the precise places of as we speak [that he found in a British tabloid].”

Led Zeppelin cowl for his or her Bodily Graffiti album. Designed by Peter Corriston. Picture by Elliot Erwitt

Birnbaum tries to keep away from logging on and seeing the place the spot is as it will take the enjoyable out of it. He likes to problem himself to scour via interviews, researching the photographers, the timeline of the musicians throughout sure durations, and different strategies. However, at occasions, he may also comb via Google Maps going road to road, searching for the situation and making an attempt to match it up.

Steve Birnbaum photographing close to Central Park, New York Metropolis

Generally there’s a sequence of pictures of the identical musician in the identical location, however sometimes every location is exclusive to the {photograph}.

“I personally discover inspiration from being in the identical location that they as soon as stood,” Birnbaum says.

Birnbaum’s favourite images are from artists who’ve impressed him essentially the most: Kurt Cobain and Nirvana.

Creating the Composite Picture Utterly in Digital camera

“More often than not, I print out the picture myself [at Staples] from on-line sources,” explains Birnbaum. “I all the time print them out earlier than I’m going to the situation. Often, I’ll use an precise album cowl, like Simon and Garfunkel’s Best Hits, as an alternative of printing out {a photograph}.

“They fluctuate in dimension, all the things from 5×7 to eight×10, and I all the time search for the best high quality picture earlier than I print them. If the one picture out there is low-res or has a watermark throughout it that impedes the {photograph}, I received’t use it.”

Steve Birnbaum photographing in NYC

Birnbaum prints out the picture on heavy card inventory that isn’t too thick. He likes having the pliability to bend and place the {photograph} a bit if wanted to match it up higher with the situation. That is particularly vital if the positioning has modified fairly a bit and has new landmarks and objects that he might have to work round.

“There are quite a lot of issues that play into that [whether he holds the photo from the sides or the bottom center],” says Birnbaum as he explains his positioning method. “Primarily making an attempt to get the very best grip to carry the picture regular whereas lining up the digital camera and making an attempt to not get hit by a automotive.

Bruce Springsteen 1978 in Haddonfield NJ. Picture by Frank Stefanko
Elvis Presley with followers exterior CBS TV Studio 50 stage door on March seventeenth 1956. Picture by Alfred Wertheimer

“I feel my photos are handiest while you see me holding the unique photos within the spots the place they had been taken, then you definately have a look at the clean body of what the situation appears like now.

“I’ve began doing that extra lately and it actually has an impact on folks. Particularly the photographs of people who find themselves not with us. There’s one thing superbly eerie about it. The precise emotion I hope comes throughout when taking a look at my photos.”

Kurt Cobain at his Los Angeles house in 1992. Picture by Guzman

Though the ultimate picture is a composite of an image in an image, all the things have to be created within the digital camera and never in publish. There is no such thing as a digitally shifting the picture in a while to make it align higher.

Birnbaum might make small changes to images inside Instagram, however that’s it — Photoshop or every other enhancing program is a giant no-no to him.

Many of the shoots are performed on Sundays as there are few parked vehicles that Birnbaum has to struggle with within the composition.

The Ramones, 1977 for the duvet of their album Rocket to Russia. Picture by Danny Fields.
Ramones on the Sundown Marquis Lodge in 1977. Picture by Danny Fields.
David Bowie, January tenth 1997 exterior of Tea and Sympathy NYC. This picture was taken after his fiftieth Birthday gig at MSG. Picture by Kevin Cummins.
Avril Lavigne for the duvet of her 2002 album Let Go. NYC. Picture by John Arsenault

Even when the unique picture is shot at evening, Birnbaum prefers to shoot it through the day.

“It offers higher readability of the unique {photograph},” says Birnbaum. “And there’s a pleasant juxtaposition for the viewer to see what the situation appears like now vs. what it regarded like when the {photograph} was initially taken, and daytime is one of the simplest ways to try this, I discover.”

Prince for the duvet of his album Purple Rain, 1984. Taken on the backlot of Warner Bros Studios. Picture by Rob Slenzak

Birnbaum additionally prefers B&W to paint.

“B&W images work nicely for what I do,” he explains. “It provides a extra historic really feel to these photos, having usually been shot many years in the past. As a private choice, I like black and white images anyway.”

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1973 in NYC. Picture by Bob Gruen

Connecting with Photographers and Musicians

Birnbaum tags the unique photographer when he posts the picture to his account @thebandwashere. This has resulted in lots of memorable relationships with photographers. Nevertheless, he by no means contacts them beforehand to ask the place the images had been shot.

Foo Fighters in 1997. Los Angeles CA. picture by Dan Winters
Infamous B.I.G, Summer season 94 Brooklyn NY. Picture by David McIntyre
Will Smith, nonetheless from the opening credit of Recent Prince of Bel Air

“Justin [Bieber] stated he actually favored what I used to be doing and to stick with it and was trying ahead to seeing extra posts,” mentions Birnbaum proudly.

Christopher Stein, the co-founder, guitarist of the new wave band Blondie and an achieved photographer, has been “tremendous type” about what Birnbaum is doing.

Bob Dylan for the duvet picture of his 1965 album Freeway 61 Revisited. Picture by Daniel Kramer
The Doorways, 1969 in Los Angeles CA. Picture by Henry Diltz.

Henry Diltz is a music photographer who has shot greater than 250 album covers and 1000’s of publicity pictures within the ’60s and ’70s, together with the enduring Morrison Lodge cowl for The Doorways.

“It’s been superb to have a reference to him [Diltz] via social media and the pictures of his I’ve used,” says Birnbaum. “He’s been so gracious to advertise the images I’ve shot and what I do and share them on his web page.

Nirvana’s In Utero liner Art work. Picture taken in 1992 by Kurt Cobain.
Ice Dice, 1991 movie nonetheless or on set picture from the Boyz N The Hood Film. Directed by John Singleton
Jay Z, nonetheless for his music video for 99 Issues. Directed by Mark Romanek

“It’s good when photographers I look as much as reply positively like Henry.”

Different photographers Birnbaum has bonded with are Chris Floyd, Justin Borucki, Sam Erickson, Guido Harari, Tom Sheehan, Dan Winters, and Danny Clinch.

Birnbaum has by no means acquired a criticism from any of the photographers he has featured in his challenge, and lots of have inspired him to maintain it going.

The Grateful Lifeless, Could fifth 1968 on the bandshell in Central Park. Picture by Joe Sia
Michael Jackson on the Griffith Observatory in 1979. Picture by Michael Salisbury
Madonna, 1983 NYC. Picture by Richard Corman

Professional Digital camera Versus Smartphone

“I began utilizing a Canon 5D Mark IV however discovered it too cumbersome to carry the picture in my hand and the [large and heavy] digital camera within the different,” says the music photographer. “So, I switched to an iPhone 11 with a Manfrotto 18mm lens attachment and have used that going ahead.

“Utilizing the iPhone additionally helps me offload the picture faster and make it extra ‘instantaneous’ and accessible to the social platform. Sure, I add straight from my iPhone to Instagram, however I don’t all the time publish the picture I shot immediately after I’m nonetheless within the location.

“After I exit to shoot, I are likely to shoot a batch of images over the course of a day [never a quick grab shot], and I publish a few occasions of the week… I don’t need to bombard folks with too many posts every week. Additionally, if I do know an anniversary, delivery, loss of life, album launch, or a historic occasion associated to the {photograph} is developing, I’ll maintain the publish till then.”

Woody Guthrie, 1943 at McSorley’s Previous Ale Home for LIFE Journal. Picture by Eric Schaal
Sheryl Crow, 1997. Nonetheless from her music video for “A Change Will Do You Good”. Directed by Lance Accord and Sheryl Crow
Miles Davis 1969 in NYC. Picture by Glen Craig

Many individuals have requested a few potential e-book, and that’s one thing Birnbaum would like to do sooner or later, however he isn’t certain if or when it’ll occur and what the method could be at this level.

Birnbaum is knowledgeable filmmaker (documentaries, commercials, and music movies) working exterior of Philadelphia and New York Metropolis. He has additionally performed nonetheless pictures, notably the Harley Davidson social and print marketing campaign for his or her electrical bike and Hellmann’s Actual Mayonnaise.

Tupac, 1994 in Los Angeles. Picture by Mike Miller
Jim Morrison and his canine Stone, 1968, exterior the Ennis Home situated at 2607 Glendover Ave Los Angeles. Picture by Paul Ferrara
Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo, February 1963 on Jones Avenue and West 4th NYC. Picture by Don Hunstein
Radiohead, 1996 in NYC. Picture by Roy Tee

“A part of my ardour for this challenge is to share with folks a variety of music, some they might not be acquainted with till they see my publish,” says Birnbaum. “I hope to share my big selection of musical tastes as nicely.

“The opposite vital factor to me is to focus on these superb photographers who’ve impressed me in my profession. Hopefully, it’ll open their work to a brand new viewers and can assist cement their superb pictures as vital to music and cultural historical past.”

“The response has been actually constructive. It’s a solution to keep inventive whereas engaged on larger initiatives in my profession that take longer, and I’ve a listing of locations I’d like to journey to exterior of NYC and LA [Washington DC recently, with hope for Japan and England in the future] the place most of my images have been shot. So, I plan to stick with it so long as all these align.”

Concerning the creator: Phil Mistry is a photographer and instructor primarily based in Atlanta, GA. He began one of many first digital digital camera courses in New York Metropolis at The Worldwide Middle of Pictures within the 90s. He was the director and instructor for Sony/Standard Pictures journal’s Digital Days Workshops. You’ll be able to attain him right here.

Picture credit: All images by Steve Birnbaum

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