“That’s what I like about shooting shows, the variables where you have to hack around the rules and circumstances,” says photographer Rob Lundberg as he discussed the fine art of photography; more specifically concert photography and his June 27 exhibit at The Bowery Electric in New York City.
To attain the success which Lundberg has encountered, most photographers or anyone in the arts/entertainment industry usually have to ply their trade for years before their labor bears fruit but such isn’t the case with Lundberg. “Well it’s been a few years since I started actually. I have a degree in criminal justice and I transitioned from criminal justice working in the private security sector in Boston and transitioned to graphic web design and then in 2016 I moved to New York City, picked up a camera and started shooting. So on a serious note, it’s been a few years, about two or two and one half years regarding commercial and professional stuff. I’ve always considered myself an artist and have always played around with point and shoots and my cell phone camera as well but it’s only been recent where my work has kind of exponentially grown and taken shape.”
So to achieve near instant success, one must be exceptional at what they do or very lucky to be in the proverbial right place at the right time; seems Lundberg is both. “That’s a good question,” he said with a chuckle when asked how he gained his notoriety. I met my current partner Melissa, who has been in the publicity realm in music for the last six or seven years and she saw my work and she pushed it to, “Paste Magazine” and they dug it and they sent me on assignment to record all of these indie artists and I love the aspect of capturing pure performance and pure artistry and it kind of matched with my energy as well where I connected with the artists on an organic level. I try to capture their true essence as a performing artist and a person and I just love shooting music, I get into it. I love the music, I get on a flow and get different angles, different shots, different energies; so it was kind of circumstantial that I met Melissa and then she showed my work to, “Paste Magazine” and I got into it that way. I just really dig the scene as well so its a really awesome subject for me right now.”
All successful photographers have that, “Knack” for capturing the perfect picture; the one that makes people stop and stare or discuss around the water cooler; so how does Lundberg do it?
“That’s also a great question. Having your camera at the right time or the right moment, it’s timing that’s one thing and once again it’s energy. I’ve been lucky enough to gain access to the backstage; those are the real moments that I really love to capture. I love to capture the performer before they go on stage when that wall is up as a performer and I love to capture them as a person and their rituals before going on stage. One aspect is that I’ve been lucky enough to gain some access backstage and build relationships with the artists and you get more organic shots that way when you befriend the artists and have a good report with them. Another way is strictly performance wise, timing, angle, position and sometimes just some luck too for the better shot or that unique shot as well; always have that camera on you.”
When asked how he fares during crunch time with other photographers all vying for,“The Shot” and most times being under a one to three song limit at the start of the show with no flash allowed; Lundberg takes a very serene approach.
“I don’t really think of it from a competitive standpoint. I recognize other photographers but I just go about it my own way, my approach, my artist approach. I approach the musicians as artists and I try to create the most beautiful images possible from whatever angle or scene and setting possible. I approach it more as an artist and try to capture the best image possible. So I recognize other photographers but I tend to not start thinking about how I’m going to out shoot them or out angle them because if that gets into my head I can get out of my flow. So I just kind of do my thing and send it along and if people really dig it they dig it. I’m there to try and capture the essence of that moment. I try to get different or more angles than what the other photographers are shooting, different perspectives as well but if people like the stuff they like the stuff.”
Concert photography can be very tricky with lighting and variables thrown at you, Lundberg says that the key is research and preparation. “The lighting? Totally can be a challenge! Say I’m shooting a band and there’s a few other bands before them; I’ll show up an hour or so early to warm up my camera and see what the lighting is and how the venue lights up the stage. There’s always over saturated blues or reds and all those funky colors but if you go there prior and do some prep work and understand the lighting environment, I can adjust my settings for those saturated colors. It can still be difficult with those saturated colors, super red or super blue, especially on faces but you make adjustments.”
So how did it feel the first time his work was published? Lundberg answers with the enthusiasm of a young boy at his first ball game. “It was awesome! It was such a great feeling because I never expected anything to come of my photography and really it was just a really cool feeling that people were digging my work. Being published, I thought, OK, I can actually do this as a career and I had gotten positive feedback on it so it was a great feeling of accomplishment so I was like, OK; how can I do this more now? How do I continue doing better work to get me to the next level? So it kind of propelled me into more professionalism as well.”
June 27 sees his first exhibit in NYC, a showing of his works combined with live music by three of his favorite artists. The exhibit is titled, “Uncontaminated Sound” and is an extremely proud moment for him. “Yes it’s June 27 Bowery Electric NYC feat bands I’ve shot from NY, Boston and Philly. It’s super cool because Bob Gruen‘s stuff hangs in there and that’s just cool and it’s owned by Jesse Malin or co-owned by Jesse Malin so that’s neat too.”
So what does Lundberg do when not hanging backstage or shooting fine art photos? He hangs out on the streets of NYC and captures a whole different type of life; as it happens. “I love street photography, particularly since I moved to New York. The streets are so vibrant and I love to capture different aspects of humanity in these small instances of humanity like shadows on a wall or somebody’s features on a bench, I just love capturing life as is. I really dig street photography because it’s super organic, you don’t need external lighting, you just go with your camera and kind of wander as you immerse yourself in the streets and into life. You just kind of see these moments in the present and you never know what you end up with until you sit down and check things out and you think, whoa, that’s really cool. So, yeah I do enjoy street photography as well.”