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Birdman's Eye View of Street Art

He shoots by night.

With digital cameras and curled 'stache, Birdman, a.k.a. Bryan Mier, has documented the Los Angeles street art tribe during a very active year.

It's not unusual to see snaps of street art and gallery openings, but the 24-year-old photographer -- a trained classical guitarist who holds a day job as music copyright researcher in the Valley -- shows how installing art is as much performance as it is process.

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The musician's new creative identity as photographer was a diversion to personal insomnia. "I drove around at night snapping away. Never planned on any of it taking off really," Birdman tells KCET. "I enjoy shooting artists in general whether it be fine art, street art, graffiti, and even musicians."

"Playing music was always easy for me but I could never understand how colors work when people paint, so my fascination in that is what I'm chasing in my photos," he said.

Adding to his photography is an eye for showing the relationship of space, something that came from photographing architecture, a pastime he gave himself while studying music in Italy. "That's where I first started. But I started actively doing street art because I was just a fan of what I saw when I was driving around L.A. a lot," Birdman said. "I always asked myself 'does anyone else see this?'"

That is an important question, and not because sometimes art is hidden in urban crevices. The short life span of street art limits its visual peak, and some of Birdman's photography is the only evidence of how the art looked at its best.

A shared thrill with street artists is climbing to get to rooftops, in his case to get that perfect shot that others would not see, and one reason he earns the one-name signature favored by underground creatives. "The adrenaline I get doing this is too awesome," Birdman said. "Guess you could say I'm an adrenaline junkie.

That may also come from shooting on an edge of a technical comfort zone. He only recently tried shooting with film, and admits he only knows camera basics. "I'm like a musician who can play, but has no clue how to read music," he said.

With a series of single shots, edited into this time lapse video from March 2012, Birdman captures street artist Anthony Lister at work. Edited by Michael Mazzola.

Chalk + Anthony Lister from Chalk LA

Top: Birdman Photo of LA Freewalls' Projection Hijack (March 19) showing artists work against downtown buildings. In addition to documenting, Birdman has begun collaborating directly with artists.

About the Author

Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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