Artist with a Camera
A dedicated yoga practitioner, photographer Robert Sturman has increasingly focused on capturing the timeless grace and embodied mindfulness of Asana in his work.
His portraits, whether set in the lively streets of Manhattan, the expansive beaches and canyons of the California coast, the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, the timeless elegance of Walden's New England, or the bleakness of San Quentin Prison, remind us that there is beauty everywhere.
His stunning repertoire runs the gamut from yogis perched on rocks surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, to African orphans practicing yoga in Kenya, to breast cancer survivors, bare-chested and scarred. In addition, Sturman has worked extensively photographing war veterans who have embraced the practice of yoga to heal PTSD, in an effort to help change the heartbreaking statistics of veteran suicides each day.
In Sturman's own words, "I often think of Rumi's words 'I can't stop pointing to the beauty.' That feels right to me."
Sturman's honors include Official Artist of the 47th Annual GRAMMY Awards, 2010 FIFA World Cup Artist Representing America, and Official Artist 2008 United States Olympics.
Sturman has been the subject of two separate New York Times articles celebrating his photographs of yoga from around the world.
"I am confident that photographs are one of the greatest influencers on our planet. They truly have the potential to evolve humanity in a more positive direction and change the world. When I realized this, there was no turning back."
— Robert Sturman
Timeline of the Artist's Life and Work
1970 — Robert Charles Sturman is born on February 17th, the third and youngest child of Herbert and Beverly Sturman, in Los Angeles, California. He grows up in an environment that fosters his interest in literature and art.
1984 — Attends boarding school in the mountain town of Idyllwild, California. His father buys him his first camera, a Pentax K1000. His passion for photography begins. When he asked his father what he was supposed to take pictures of, his father's response was "Everything that you love."
1985-1988 — While finishing up his education at Crossroads High School in Santa Monica, CA, Sturman spends most of his time in the photography department. He also enrolls at Otis College of Art and Design and takes night classes.
1988 — Attends The University of California, Santa Cruz(UCSC) and focuses on studying Art History and Drawing. He develops a friendship with master photographer, William Giles, who lives and works in Carmel, California. While still attending UCSC, Sturman becomes his apprentice for two years. He learns the foundations of photography while working in the darkroom, producing fine prints, and creating with a large format 8x10 camera. His friendship with Giles continues past graduation.
1992 — After graduating from UCSC with a B.A. in Art and an emphasis in Painting and Drawing, Sturman attends The Memphis College of Art for two years. He studies under Italian master painter, John Torina, whose ephemeral images later echo in Sturman's work.
2000 — Visits India and Nepal, inspiring him to create his first comprehensive body of work. He is greatly moved by Osho, the Indian mystic poet and painter, and his principles of creativity, which soon affect his life as an artist and the responsibility that comes with it.
2000-2002 — During this period, Sturman makes four separate trips to Cuba to create the "Cuba Libre, An American Artist in Cuba'" series. This work marks the beginning of a deep appreciation and fascination with music.
2003 — Spends three months creating a series of images in Europe, studying master artists such as Michelangelo, da Vinci, Rodin and Picasso. In Poland, Sturman visits Auschwitz/Birkenau Concentration Camp. This experience changes his life, reaffirming the importance of assuming responsibility for his life.
2004 — Selected by The National Academy of Recording Arts& Sciences to be the official artist for the 47th Annual GRAMMY Awards.
2005 — Commissioned by The United States Olympic Committee to create exclusive portraits of The Hall of Fame Olympians. The Living Wellness Foundation honors Sturman with the Creative Visionary Award; other invited honorees include His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Kunzang Rinpoche, the 'Tibetan Treasure Finder.'
2006 — Collaborates with B.B. King to create his official 80th Birthday portrait.
2007 — Commissioned by asked by 2xist clothing company to create their ad campaign. The president of the company, Mike Tawil, is a collector of Sturman's work, and gives the artist 100% freedom to self express for the campaign. The Tyra Banks show featured Sturman's campaign and the winner of Americas Top Model/Men won a shoot with Sturman which was aired on her show.
2007-2008 — Creates his most prolific series of artwork entitled, "Poetry of the Gods," A comprehensive study of the beautiful practice of Yoga. The series receives international recognition in the world of yoga and inspires Sturman to create a coffee table book. In addition, an iPHONE application, entitled "Yoga Visions," is created to celebrate this illustrious series of artwork.
2009 — Chosen by the city of West Hollywood as their official artist for their 25th anniversary. He is also chosen by FIFA, World Cup Soccer games, to create an artwork representing America's participation in the first ever World Cup held on the African continent.
2010 — After Hurricane Katrina, Sturman makes 5 trips to New Orleans resulting in a coffee table book celebrating 50 of New Orleans finest musicians — Proceeds benefit musicians of Louisiana who lost everything in the hurricane.
2011 to present — Begins a new series photographing within United States prisons, exploring Yogis behind bars — rehabilitation through the practice of yoga.
2013 — Sturman aligns himself with Africa Yoga Project, based in Nairobi, Kenya and produces a portfolio recognized and celebrated by the New York Times.
2015 to present — Begins an extensive body of work photographing yoga in the military.
2015 — Honored by UPRISING YOGA with the "Yoga Hero — Photographer and Activist" award.
2017 — Collaborates with Warriors at East to create "The Pearl Harbor Yoga Project."
2018 — Granted permission by the Department of Defense to publish an image of an active duty member of the United States Military practicing yoga in full uniform. The image appeared on the November cover of Yoga Journal and was made possible by Warriors at Ease.
2019 — In collaboration with Prison Yoga Project, Sturman is invited by the Mexican Government to photograph within the highest maximum security prison in the country, just outside of Mexico City. This was the first time a camera was permitted in the prison.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
Turner House Gallery — Valdosta, Georgia — Retrospective Exhibition
Celebrity Vault Gallery, Beverly Hills — The Art of New Orleans Music exhibition
Bergamot Station, BGH Gallery, Santa Monica, California — Tranquility exhibition
Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN: "In the Mix — Selected Works by Robert Sturman"
Risk Press Gallery (Melrose), West Hollywood, CA: "Mandalay and the Skies of Serendipity"
Studio Gallery, Santa Monica, CA: "The European Series"
Studio Gallery, Santa Monica, CA: "Cuba Libre - an American Artist in Cuba"
The Hatch Gallery, Los Angeles, CA: "Visual Poems"
Potrero Hill Brewing Company, San Francisco, CA: "Blues Highway"
Vision Gallery, San Diego, CA: "Song of the Waves"
Selected Clients /Projects / Collaborations
Africa Yoga Project, Prison Yoga Project, Prison Yoga Project Mexico, Connected Warriors, Veterans Yoga Project, Uprising Yoga, Warriors at Ease, Give Back Yoga Foundation, Yoga Journal, New York Yoga + Life, Tao Porchon-Lynch, The Recording Academy / GRAMMYs, The United States Olympic Committee, 2Xist Clothing, The Braille Institute, Fats Domino, B.B. King and many more.