this photographer has traveled with beyoncé from louisiana to the louvre
During his last trip to Paris, Robin Harper captured an intimate moment between two dancers that ended up as The Carters' 'Everything Is Love' album cover.
Photography Robin Harper
To shoot Jay-Z and Beyoncé just once would likely be a career milestone, but to become a dedicated photographer to the music power couple is something incredibly rare. For Kansas City-born photographer Robin Harper, his talents led him to the latter: being inducted into the tight-lipped Carter camp. An introduction to Jay and Bey’s team led to Harper getting the opportunity to shoot the musicians on the road -- currently he’s photographing the On The Run II tour - as well as capturing some of the more intimate moments of The Carters’ lives. Harper has even had the opportunity to shoot covers of Bey for Garage and Flaunt.
With The Carters’ album Everything Is Love, Harper was able to join Jay and Bey while they were shooting the “Apeshit” video at the Louvre in Paris. The album cover — which features dancer Jasmine Harper picking out Nicholas “Slick” Stewart’s hair — sparked attention as an ode to black love; an overarching theme of the record. Following his work on The Carters’ album, we caught up with Harper who detailed working on Everything Is Love and his experience with Jay and Bey.
How did you get involved with working on The Carters’ Everything Is Love ?
That was kind of a surprise, I’m out on the road with The Carters now for their On The Run II tour and we just happened to have filmed the “Apeshit” video while we were in Paris. I got to tag along and take some pictures during the filming. It was really nice.
Were you able to hear the full record before shooting the album cover?
I heard some snippets here and there while they were recording, but not really. I guess I like to be surprised like everyone else.
What was your role in putting together Everything Is Love ?
I took the pictures really. I typically try to stay on the outside of everything, It keeps my head clear and allows me to wait for what I’m looking for. I just get to hang out, and people seem to be okay with that.
Tell me about the meaning behind the album artwork, which features Jasmine Harper picking out Nicholas “Slick” Stewart’s hair . What does it say about black relationships and love?
I may not be the best person to speak on that, but, what I see is two beautiful people that have opened themselves to each other, and in that, I think love has a chance.
Was there an artist you drew inspiration from?
No, not at all. I’m not someone who gets inspiration from artists. I really didn’t have much to do with the conceptualization of this image as an album cover. It was just a moment in the Louvre. Ricky Saiz, the director of the “Apeshit” video was setting this up as a shot, Slick and Jasmine were just sitting there having a moment, and I snapped some pics. That’s it. There was really just a lot of truth in that moment, and it worked.
Tell me about your career trajectory. How did you end up working with The Carters?
I moved to Los Angeles from Kansas City and began assisting photographers. From there, a photographer I was working with introduced me to Beyoncé’s camp and I began working with them off and on a little bit. I feel like working in that world gave me a bit of a push creatively and professionally. It definitely helped me develop my own language and opened me up to shooting other things.
You shot the Garage cover of Beyoncé. Did you guys forge a relationship from that, and did it lead you to this opportunity?
I actually began working with her and her camp a few years before that. I came to be close friends with her creative director, Todd Tourso, and it was that relationship that led to the Garage cover. We shot that in New Orleans while filming Lemonade. I’ve done a couple magazine covers and other album art with them, as well. It’s been a cool ride. Her camp is really built on trust and family, so I feel like they tend to keep close people close.