You may have already seen photographer Michael Weintrob’s work on album covers. His photos have graced the pages of dozens of publications.
“A lot of times in music photography, stylists and make-up artists are hired and they’re creating an illusion. A lot of times, the musicians don’t like the photos later because it’s not them,” Weintrob said. “I’m trying to lose the ego and just show the human with their instrument.”
INSTRUMENTHEAD is Weintrob’s seventeen-year creative journey. To put it simply, It’s portraits of musicians, with their respective instruments as their head.
“The thing about portrait photography that we’ve all learned is that it’s about the eyes. But when you look at these photographs you can’t see the eyes. Everything we know about portraits are thrown out the door,” Weintrob said. “I say to these musicians when we’re doing the photoshoots; how are we going to tell your story? What is it about you that makes you special? A lot of time’s people bring relics from their past and objects that are close to them, and the clothing that they wear. Someone like a Cyro Baptista, the famous Brazilian percussionist, he’s wearing a robe from Brazil, holding a berimbau which is a Brazilian instrument and a pandero which is another name for a tambourine. We’re telling the story of a culture as well as a person through the photograph. We’re basically creating a whole new race of people, ‘The Instrumentheads’, through these photographs.”
Several hundred musicians are subjects in INSTRUMENTHEAD, now a self-produced and self-published art book.
“It’s a true monograph. I’d been working so hard on this photography that I wanted to have a real art book. It was either make a rock and roll cookbook or a fine art photography book. I went the fine art photography route,” Weintrob said. “There’s no text besides the forward and the intro in the body of the book. In the back of the book, the paper changes and there’s an index where you can learn who all of the musicians are, the instruments that they play, and the bands that they are in.”
In between photo shoots, Weintrob displays INSTRUMENTHEAD at art galleries, centers, and festivals. His work was recently honored with the Independent Publisher Book Award for Most Outstanding design.
“I came up as a jazz photographer and a blues photographer and in the rock and roll scene. I’m happy that I’ve been able to find my voice as a photographer through this project and I’m lucky enough to get it out to the world to see through this book.”