Justin Bettman, a photographer and artist based out of Los Angeles, has spent the last 7 years collecting discarded and unwanted furniture and building sets outside for his latest art series “Set in the Street.” Bettman has created 14 sets all over the world including Times Square, Russia, Germany, England, Los Angeles, and the Czech Republic.
On the surface, the project appears to just be quirky portraits. But at second glance, it is a commentary on waste, exorbitant rent, and most importantly how people often miss the larger picture in life when they only see a cropped version. It is also about democratizing photography — since Bettman leaves his sets up after he shoots in them and encourages others to take photos in the sets. “I am able to construct rooms from items that some people just throw away or have donated,” Bettman said.
For this project, Justin Bettman builds elaborate sets out of unwanted materials and furniture. After shooting the photos, the sets are left up on the street, where passersby can shoot their own photos and share using the Instagram hashtag #setinthestreet. The purpose of the project is to get viewers to question their ideas of perception and how misleading things can be when you only see the smaller piece of the larger picture. “It’s fascinating how the sets evolve over time when someone adds something to the set and 30 minutes later someone else steals something.” The sets really do take on a life of their own.
The project has received tons of press internationally from New York Magazine, Wired Magazine, USA Today, Mashable, and The Guardian. Wired Magazine wrote “Imagine your uncle’s den—the one with the creepy taxidermy and cheap paneling where you played board games as a kid. Now imagine finding that room meticulously constructed en plein aire on a … sidewalk. It had that morning been the scene of a photo shoot featuring models who look a bit like your Aunt Phoebe and your Uncle Eddie. But now it’s been left behind for all to enjoy, and perhaps snap a few selfies for Instagram.”
Justin Bettman is a conceptual yet accessible artist and photographer. He began working with images and composition as an art director before transitioning to becoming a full time photographer. He strives to make work that anyone and everyone can appreciate instead of catering to the elite art world. Both his portraiture work and his larger tableaux scenes are excellent examples of how Justin uses deliberate shadow, light, color, and set design to execute layered stories within a single image.
Some of Justin’s clients include Apple, Atlantic Records, Billboard Magazine, Nike, Spotify, Google, GQ Magazine, Coca Cola, IBM, Mini Cooper, The New York Times, Red Bull, Verizon, and Columbia Records. He has photographed a variety of subjects including LeBron James, Daniel Radcliffe, Aziz, Ansari, Elle Fanning, Emily Blunt, David Harbour, Olivia Wilde, Jeffrey Wright, Trixie Mattel, Carrie Coon, Don Cheadle, Patrick Mahomes, Vance Joy, Jason Mraz, and Bill Hader.
You can view more of his work at www.justinbettman.com