“Sometimes it’s just a case of going on Google Maps and dropping my mind,” claims Steve Birnbaum. “Just browsing and seeking right until I see one thing recognisable.”
Birnbaum, a movie director primarily based in New York, is speaking about his interest: painstakingly tracking down spots of audio photoshoots so he can uncover the correct area to re-photograph himself. Influenced by a task he saw that blended war pictures with fashionable-day places, in 2010 he started doing the identical with family members photos, then movie and Tv locations, just before homing in on his musical specialized niche about 2017.
Although it’s not an entirely initial thought – photographer Alex Bartsch did the exact for British reggae album covers – The Band Was Here now has a quarter of a million followers on Instagram. Here, you are going to find Birnbaum revisiting the correct table in a bar that Woody Guthrie sat at back again in 1943 or the exact street area in the Bronx where by a 14-calendar year-outdated Tupac was photographed on a moped back again in 1985. “When I’m there, and I line it up, and it feels appropriate … it’s a complete excitement,” states Birnbaum.
He’s located spots from loads of huge albums. There is the wall (now a garage) that Michael Jackson stood in front of on Off the Wall the fireplace escape at the rear of Prince on the include of Purple Rain the stoop Bob Dylan sat on for Highway 61 Revisited. He even got within the apartment where all the photographs for Taylor Swift’s 1989 album were being shot soon after having a tip-off that it was for sale and arranging a viewing.
But it’s not just re-photographing legendary imagery, it is also celebrating lesser known pictures that involve discovering random properties, auto parks, tattoo parlours or pavements. And Birnbaum is not concerned to get nerdy. He has situated the bathtub in the picture printed on the CD of Nirvana’s In Utero from 30 decades back. And not only did he locate the lodge that looked out on to the similar check out that functions on Radiohead’s Okay Laptop include but he received access to the home Thom Yorke stayed in to just take the similar photograph.
It is develop into a substantial enterprise. “I will shell out several hours on 1 picture where by I just can’t obtain something,” he says. “So I’ll slide into this gap of trying to keep track of it down.” He’s continue to fervently exploring for album protect locations by Smashing Pumpkins and Violent Femmes, although he eagerly awaits a reaction from the setting up proprietor he tracked down wherever Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was shot.
His analysis techniques are meticulous: books, journals, previous interviews with photographers – though he never ever techniques them for help “I like the hunt,” he claims – and locating get in touch with sheets from primary photoshoots. “A good deal of clues are within get in touch with sheets,” he claims. “Because there will be images that had been taken from periods earlier in the working day, so it tells me the route that people today walked that working day.”
On the other hand, occasionally he can set in all that function, find the place but when he will get there it’s a big development web page. “New York has turn out to be substantial-rises and glass,” he says. “It’s sad realizing the record, and the men and women that as soon as stood there, when it is just wholly absent.” Despite the fact that it has offered him a heightened appreciation of his environment. “It’s insane how a great deal you walk the streets and go previous points,” he claims. “Music background is all all over us.”
It’s also confirmed to be a project loaded with unforeseen emotion. “It definitely has a distinct experience when the artists are no for a longer time with us,” he says, citing a photo of John Lennon that he traced as remaining located just a block from where by the Beatle was murdered. He felt in the same way upset when he discovered Kurt Cobain’s abandoned Hollywood property in purchase to photograph the location wherever Cobain and his then toddler daughter Frances Bean Cobain sat back in 1992. “That was the most eerie location I have ever been in,” he suggests. “I went again and forth as to regardless of whether to submit those simply because it gets extra individual when it is relatives pictures. They are in the public domain but you have to respect that these are persons. It’s not the motion pictures.”
But aside from the occasional pang when connecting with the tragic heritage of his favourite bands, it’s been a stimulating task that has brought to physical existence some cherished recollections. “Growing up I was living with these visuals,” he says. “I was opening up publications and viewing them all the time. New music images was a substantial inspiration for me and now that I can go and stand in that very area, it is, like, wow!”