What’s up everyone, my name is Bryan Allen Lamb. I was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana and I’m a photographer/filmmaker.
How was life growing up in Indiana?
Indiana is cool man. Fort Wayne is the second biggest city outside of Indianapolis, which isn’t saying much, it’s still really small. Honestly, I feel like I could’ve grown up in a lot of places. I played video games all day. I’m also the youngest child in my family so I felt like the black sheep a lot.
When did you first begin to witness you were creative?
I took a video class my SR year in high school. It was really just a cop out class. I didn’t want to do any work. The class was called The Morning Show and they would blast it out to the school. I was one of the anchors. We also didn’t have the best cameras, but we made do with what we had and I thought that was fun.
When did you start dabbling with photography?
People always think I’ve done it for way longer than I have. I started shooting four years ago, but I’d say I’ve been taking it seriously now for two to three years. When I started to shoot, I would take a couple photos at a festival or I’d be doing video and someone would be like, “Yo can you take a photo”? I had a DSLR so I had the capabilities of doing so. I would switch over to photo mode and take a photo. I never had photographer in my bio or didn’t even consider myself a photographer.
With moving to the city 5-6 years ago, how has Chicago helped you creatively?
People that have grown up here are probably desensitized by the city. They’re not in awe of the trains going by, the lights, neon signs, the people, and all that kind of stuff. I just think there were a lot of things that unlocked when I came here. The colors, shapes, architecture, the sounds, and feels. I’ve been working here for a while and I’ve loved the people in Chicago. For the most part, it’s been kinda open arms.
Over the years you have been able to create a ton of connections within the music industry. Take us back to your first break into the music industry.
I got a job at Doc Martens and this girl who worked there Tesha was dating this guy named Michael who was a part of BBU at the time. I told her my interests and how I was attending Columbia for film and video. She told me I should come to the show and do some video. I figured I should. That day I went out and bought my first camera a T2i. The next day I went to the show at Lincoln Hall and ShowYouSuck opened up and I thought he was really cool. After the show, I talked to him and got his number. Everything snowballed after that. I started doing more video for ShowYouSuck and experimenting with software.
If anyone has ever scrolled through your Instagram, they have seen your love for shooting portraits. Personally, why do you like shooting portraits so much?
I would like to say, I liked shooting portraits before Instagram got the portrait mode. I feel like a lot of photographers only did street because that’s what looked good on Instagram. A lot of people just took photos to take photos. At the time I always did portraits. I was never into street photography. I like shooting portraits because people change. They get older, wiser, and it’s cool to capture the essence of that. I think it also has to do with the fact that I really enjoy connecting with people. I can’t connect with a building. Instagram eventually updated the app to fit portraits and I started doing it even more because it looked good on there and it started to resonate with more people.
What makes a good portrait?
I would say the person. I think the light could be off, the clothes could be off, the background and the location could suck. But, if you capture the person at the right moment, or the right time, or the right angle, I think the person is what makes the photo.
Back to the music business. Out of all of your relationships, it seems like your relationship with Mick Jenkins is the closest. How did you guys first meet?
The first time I met Mick, I was at a Closed Sessions studio session. I remember this day specifically because it was negative outside and we weren’t supposed to go out. The session ended up getting called Frozed Sessions. In the studio were also Noname, Saba, and Dally Auston. Our first interaction wasn’t much because he was writing and I don’t like to bug people when they’re working.
Later on, I pitched this idea to Green Room Magazine about taking photos of artists in their home. Most people see artists looking cool or on stage with lights and I wanted to get rid of all that, strip it all down, and just have the person. I pitched that idea to them to just take photos of these artists in their home and one of the artists I included was Mick Jenkins. They picked up the idea and ran with it in their mag. That was one of my first photo projects. Stefan Ponce, Lucki, Saba, and Mick Jenkins were the artists in the mag. After the mag, the relationship with Mick and I just continued to grow and grow. One time, Mick posted that he was looking for a photojournalist to go on tour with him via Twitter. I went through the channels that he said to go through and his manager called me the next day and asked if I wanted to go on tour. The first tour was the one with Joey Bada$$ and we were out for 2.5 weeks.
One of my favorite shots of yours was of Eryn Allen Kane. How did you guys meet?
My relationship with Eryn has been a long one. I honestly can’t remember where it started. I just remember working with Eryn a few times, taking her portraits and all that kind of stuff. She wasn’t really into the camera that much, but I think she was comfortable with me. We did a portrait session, then another one, and then I think I worked with her again. I think it was the fourth time we worked together we worked on the cover. We built up our chemistry over time that she was comfortable enough to be in front of the camera and to do a cover like that. Also, it was her concept, and I kind of just brought it to life. I didn’t even know what to expect, I was wondering if it was going to work out. This shoot was the first one in my studio I just got. I was really excited about it. I built the backdrop, took the photos, and I was like hey, these are coming out really interesting. The perspective was interesting and different. It all worked out and I bring it back to the chemistry thing. We worked so many times before that. She knew what I was capable of and I knew what she was capable of. The shoot was very organic and still is my favorite shoot to this day.
Over the years, you’ve talked about having good years. But each year you constantly do better. What’s in you that pushes you to be better and better?
I just like to master things. I’m definitely a perfectionist forsure and I don’t think I have perfected anything yet. I like to work, I like working with people. Honestly, I don’t know what pushes me. Maybe I don’t have anything else to do. People see what I’m able to create with this amount of budget and time. Because of that, people are able to understand me a bit better, which results in me executing even better. It’s definitely more a collaborative effort, I wouldn’t say it’s just me. My subjects are getting better and more talented. Artists start getting a better vision of what they want and I’m growing with them. I also just love creating things.
In this day and age, social media is what drives a lot of us. You don’t seem to be the guy on social media like that. Have you always been like that?
I never really was into the Internet. I remember being in high school and the teacher said, “raise your hand if you have a myspace”. Everyone in the class raised their hand except for me. People were laughing at me. There are so many people just putting their opinions and work on the Internet. It’s a big dumpster to me. I don’t care to spend my time that way. I’m definitely on the Internet, sometimes I post on my IG story and I read things a lot. I make sure that there’s a standard to my work. I’m posting what I want people to see. I just can’t do it everyday. To me I don’t have that many good images. That whole posting everyday thing, the consistency of having all these good images, impossible. I don’t care who you are, if you’re Sally Mann or Gordon Parks, both amazing talented photographers who can fill up an entire book, but if you’re posting everyday for two to three years, there’s no way you can keep up. You’re eventually going to burn out. Also, I want to save a lot my stuff for a book. Why would I put out a book if you’ve seen all of these photos on the Internet? I’m saving a lot of images for a photo book whenever I want to put it out.
You have been able to shoot a ton of artists, but if you could choose three artists to shoot, who would you like to shoot?
Its funny, you ask that. I see a lot of people wanting to shoot Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West, Pharrell, and all these big superstars. That’s all really cool to me, but right now I don’t have any relationship or chemistry with them. It’s funny that I would want to say Mick Jenkins, Jamila Woods, and Eryn Allen Kane, although I’ve already worked with them. I have that chemistry with them that makes me want to continue to work with them. I also see their potential and see that they can be a Kanye West or Pharrell one day.
If I could shoot three people outside of Chicago it would be Anderson .Paak, Frank Ocean, and Kid Cudi.
In Chicago, I want to keep working with Mick, our chemistry is great, and he has made so much possible for me. I love working with Bryant Giles and Jamila Woods.
When it’s all said and done how would you like to be remembered?
I would love for my images to pop up in 10-20 years in a Chicago Renaissance book.
Written by: Nico Rud