citybirches is a photographic portrait series by photographer and musician Stephan Laackman, focusing on „Alternative Rock Bands“ on tour.

In 2006, when I picked up my camera and set out to give visual form to my appreciation and zest for innovative, path-breaking musicians and bands, it was the beginning of an enthusiastic long-term project. For five years, with patience and openness, I took the time to devote myself to many fascinating individuals and bands, and to piece together a detailed portrait of musicians‘ everyday life on tour. Many renowned artists and young talents were enthusiastic about my idea, so that up to 2011 I was able to work together with 150 bands, including Sonic Youth, Lambchop, Explosions In The Sky, Calexico, R.E.M., Future Islands, and Deerhunter – to name just a few.

The end result is citybirches: a comprehensive, multi-faceted photography work for interested music lovers and fans.“

In order to acquaint you with citybirches and actually place this project in your hands in the form of a book, I am presently negotiating with a particularly pleasant and professional publisher, the Kettler Publishing House. This publisher shares my and your own passion for music and would like to bring out citybirches as a high-quality edition of 1,000 copies in Germany and the USA. An accompanying CD-compilation presenting compositions by the portrayed artists is planned for my label, „Haywain Recordings,“ and will come with the book.
In spite of my own sizeable investments and the support of Kettler Publishing, however, I do need your help to manifest citybirches as a book and to actually get the portraits of these impressive musicians out into the world. For the complete financing of the production, we still have a deficit of €10,000.

Naturally, anyone who supports the project will be rewarded! For this reason I am initiating a Crowdfunding Drive, which will not only help me but will also provide you with a signed, limited edition of citybirches. Along with the signed book, signed museum-quality prints, on highest quality 240g/m2 fine-art-paper in sizes ranging from 4.1″ x 5.8″ to 16.5″ x 23.4″ will be included as a special bonus. Additionally, all donors who acquire „parts“ for over €75.- will be immortalized as patrons in the book, where their names will be listed.

Please help to bring a wonderful project to fruition! I would be deeply thankful for any kind of backing, whether in the form of monetary donations or through spreading the word to others who may also be happy for an opportunity to financially support this project!

With best regards,

Please consider supporting Stephan in realising this wonderful project – and share this link with your contacts. Thank you!

citybirches photography works (2006–2011) crowdfunding page: A photobook, exhibit and music compilation project
(for the ☞ german version please choose this link)

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Stephan Laackman (*1974), a photographer and musician, touches upon moments of timelessness in the dynamic everyday lives of musicians. In his photography book, citybirches photography works, he presents a collection of pictures devoted to performing artists on tour. He focuses on the tension between their self-presentation when on stage and their self-involvement during downtime.

Laackman’s photographs, taken in the years 2006-2011, are, above all, the visual manifestation of a “musical friendship.” As a musician, he conveys this friendship through the eyes of a photographer, and melds together an intuitive knowledge of the subject and a partiality for the unmasked sensitivity of the portrayed artists. Recording spontaneous instants, he offers an unbiased view of the musicians’ personalities, but never transgresses their privacy.
Laackman observes without intruding, waits patiently in everyday touring situations, in which every minute is precious. In choosing his window of time, he has to work around setting up, sound checks, and stage set construction.

Where time is of the essence, Laackman reacts quickly and confidently. To him, the first five minutes of engagement with a person are decisive. He is fascinated by those initial fleeting moments in which intuition and sensitivity are in high gear and the photographic eye is free of analysis and artistic strategy. Whatever happens after these first minutes is of little interest or loses importance with repetition.

In spite of the spontaneity at the heart of the works, Laackman’s photographs radiate slowness and serenity. There is no sign of the stress and hectic activity surrounding performances or of the potential complications that are always a worry when dealing with technology. He spurns the slightest sensationalism and, always respecting his subjects’ boundaries, he seeks their essential natures. In doing so, he gives just as much attention to the microphone or the instrument’s case as to the individual features of the artists themselves.

Establishing a dialogue with a person and an object, he finds a sensitive balance between intimacy and distance. In this way, Laackman expresses a “friendship” that he has cultivated by admiring and becoming closely familiar with the music. Thanks to the existence of published songs and albums, he could develop his relationship to the artist previous to the actual encounter.

Laackman’s choice of materials also follows the principle of balance. He consciously uses analogue camera technology to do justice to his subjects’ unique vitality and drive, either portraying them in daylight or enveloped in atmospheric stage lighting. Without adding special effects or overlaying eccentric allures, he captures the dramaturgy of the performance under the given lighting conditions. He concentrates on the artist’s communication with the audience, on the movements of the hands, and on the music – which speaks for itself. Even if the image cannot transport the sound, the music is omnipresent and visually tangible.

In order to enrich citybirches with an immediate experience of the musical language, an accompanying compilation presents pieces by selected portrayed artists. Side by side, the photographic interpretations and the musical expressions of the artists enter into dialogue. The pieces have been made available by the musicians involved in the project and will be published on Laackman’s independent label, Haywain Recordings, and will supplement the photography book.

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