Robert Lundberg: Behind the Camera, Behind the Scenes
Robert Lundberg is a photographer on the rise, and we have quickly become a fan of his unique vision. Lundberg is not your ordinary Rock n’ Roll photographer. While many photographers base their work solely on what goes on in front of the stage, Lundberg turns the tables, going deeper, and goes behind the scenes for a different and more intimate look at the lives of artists.
Along his journeys along the East coast, he has shot bands such as The National, Robert Schwartzman of Rooney, Eric Nally, Ted Leo, We Are Scientists, Jukebox the Ghost, Macklemore’s Gemini Tour and more. Launching his career with a camera that brings his spiritual energy to the world, he captures the artists in their most private moments before the stage; making part of the experience his own as well. The first edition of his behind the scenes and live photos found him deeming the ongoing project “Uncontaminated Sound,” which made its gallery debut at the Bowery Electric in New York City this Summer. As he begins the second part of his ever expanding journey, we catch up with the rising star of photography, one photograph at a time.
How did you get started in Music Photography?
Good question, chance fate whatever one might call such instances of life, however, it was over a year ago when I met my current partner Melissa. At the time my camera work was focused on street photography, she so happened to be an independent publicist in the music industry. When Melissa saw my work, in which I pinned to my wall for sequencing she was impressed; the following week she pushed a few shots to Paste Magazine and off I went shooting music assignments up and down the Northeast.
Since then I’ve shot over 50 bands, traveled thousands of miles on the road, had my first showing that October in Chelsea, bringing forth Uncontaminated Sound this past June.While, currently contributing to Vents Magazine, and soon Do NYC, so it’s been an amazing journey so far!
This summer saw the release of your show Uncontaminated Sound at the Bowery Electric. Will you be continuing the series? And if so will there be a difference in genre focus?
Indeed it did, and am so grateful for the Bowery Electric for allowing me to show my work, it was the perfect environment to immerse the viewers with new sounds and unique imagery of my journey so far. I certainly plan to continue the series, with the first show I barely touched the surface of what I have in my archives paired with what I wanted to explore within the concept.
Uncontaminated Sound intends to explore new expressions of sound particularly while capturing artists within the moments prior to hitting the stage. After a bit of reflection, I’d like to dig deeper into this concept by creating more portraits across a variety of genres for instance hip hop and jazz. I love all genres and believe each has its particular place within Uncontaminated Sound.
What artists speak to you on a personal level, and what are some of your ‘dream’ artists to shoot?
This is always the hardest question for me. My musical tastes have always been in a constant evolution, moving with my age and state of mind during that period of time. Though to give you a hint into how my brain works, I generally have lent towards lyrics that are raw, poetic, truthful, artistically crafted paired with complex or mellow notes. In the likes of Tupac, Biggie, CunninLynguists, The Roots, to The National, Bruce Springsteen, The Ramones, Iggi Pop, The Stones, Chainsmokers, Lauryn Hill, Ray LaMontagne…etc the spectrum. I’ll put on Bach for a day and just write. Most all music speaks to me, it just pends of the present status of my mind.
Dream artists? Hmm, in actuality I’ll get excited shooting all types of artists from unknown to known, though it’d be cool to shoot Springsteen, the Stones, QuestLove, Lauryn Hill.
We see a lot of ups-and-downs in terms of bands touring through. Do you capture a lot of local bands or do you wait it out for the bigger ones to start making their way over in the Autumn months?
There is a unique cycle within the industry, though I try to capture all types of sounds so I’m always game to shoot more local artists in which, it generally turns out we become friends. It’s an amazing experience for me, the transference of creative energy no matter the medium. Though capturing the bigger named ones is a unique experience within itself, since you (as photographer) maybe documenting a moment that could turn out to have cultural relevance, though one never knows nor could. In general however, I try to continuously shoot year round.
What is your favorite type of camera to shoot with? Do you use both digital and analog in your work?
I’ve been working on a bootstrap budget, given the tools handed to me, thus, I’ve currently been shooting with a Canon Rebel T3i with 50mm prime lens. I love the 50mm lens, one gets great close ups along with portraits, though it has been limiting in attempting to capture the entire context of a show. Though, I’ve played around with a 35mm film fisheye for backstage stuff, I dig the color and look of film, and certainly’d like to experiment more with shooting performances with an analog.
How do you approach photographic work with artists behind the stage and on the stage?
I’m heavily inspired by cinematic techniques and lighting and thats what attempt in every shot to create a piece of art within one still by using the light at hand during a performance. My approach backstage is simple: I’m an unknown observer or the proverbial fly on the wall, I let the artists be themselves and try not to intrude. This way capture the artist’s spirit.
What advice do you have to upcoming music photographers, and photographers in general?
Like any field in this present interconnected hyper competitive eco-system known as the global economy, one has to work extremely hard to pursue their career of choice. This is so with photography, particularly in NYC, where there is high demand for good photography however the market is saturated with lots of talent. Understand what type of work you’d like create, if commercial or wedding work doesn’t interest you, don’t pursue it. Secondly, its not an easy path be prepared to struggle getting off the ground, though if you truly believe in your vision the universe will give you paths to pursue it more. That leads me to my last piece of advice define your own voice, don’t chase trends, create your own view of the world and then incorporate that into the work at hand. Also love what you do, without love there is no art.
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