Brian Finke – Editorial & Fine-Art Photographer


– Thank you. Hello and welcome to
the i3 lecture series, hosted by the masters in
digital photography program at the School of Visual Arts. We are thrilled to have
photographer and SVA alum Brian Finke, as tonight’s guest speaker. Originally from Texas, Brian
is currently based in New York where he is represented
by Clamp Art Gallery. To date he has published
four amazing monographs, two, four, six, eight American
Cheerleaders and Football and Football Players Umbrash. Flight Attendants, Powerhouse
Books, Construction (mumbles) books. And most recently U.S.
Marshals, also from Powerhouse. Among others, his work is
in the permanent collectons of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Wooster Art Museum,St. Louis
Art Museum, Akron Art Museum, Bibliotec Nacional de France, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts and the Alexia Foundation for World Peace. So please help me give
Brian a warm welcome to our lecture series. (applause) Welcome. – Thanks. Hello, I’m Brian. I’m a photographer. Yeah it’s great coming back. I went to SVA and love the
opportunity to come back and share stories. I shoot for magazines all the
time, I’ve published books, do gallery exhibitions
and I brought pictures from a few different
series, here along with some work stuff. And I’ll just kind of
like, start showing this and ramble off and tell
you guys a bunch of stories and kind of like what it’s
like working after art school and all that good stuff so. This was the first project
that I worked on that became my first book. I started this after SVA. I’m from Texas, my
sisters were cheerleaders. I was like the newspaper,
yearbook photographer. And it kind of felt like
full circle coming back and like being on the
football field again. How I originally started this
project, was I saw the movie Bring It On, I know we’ve all seen it. Amazing film, I saw it
and afterwards I was like I need to go to these
cheerleading competitions. My sisters were
cheerleaders in high school, they had been to these big competitions, I was like I so wanna
go and photograph this and check it out. So I originally started
going and would just get in the car and drive down to
Florida, Daytona, Orlando and this is also the time
where I started working for magazines. And I would call photo
editors, well email people and tell them what I was
looking to do and I would pitch stories to like the New York Times, different things and I
ran some of the pictures in the what they were thinking column. It was just a nice way to
start getting work out there. This picture is very
important to me because… With telling stories I think
it’s very easy to do like all of one thing in the sense
to like always go and make pictures that are funny or
overly romantic or might be like sarcastic. And to me it’s important to
touch on things, to build a story of pictures that touch
on a lot of different moods. This one being much more like
romantic, more sentimental. Here we see some cheerleaders
praying before a competition. It was amazing going there
’cause it was just like this explosion of energy. All the time spent like
preparing for it, getting ready. This is a team watching
another team perform on stage. After photographing the girls for a while, I wanted to broaden the project
and started photographing the natural counterpart
which of course the football players, the guys for the most part. I love working on personal projects, I mean it’s so important
to me because everything like all my work, all of
that comes from working on these. And I also love the time
that’s allowed for it and a lot of that comes from like
that going to art school and just like having a
semester or a year to like work on stuff and really
try to figure it out. With starting to work in
this project I also started becoming much more
interested in the styling, the costuming and from starting to do this I started getting fashion assignments and other editorial stuff. It was really hard for
me to make a picture of the actual event. It’s in general a sport, so
I photograph a lot of sports stuff now. Or have over the years. Because it’s something
that’s so, so familiar. And it was something
that I photographed a lot and went back to and
looked at and looked at. And this picture became
successful just because of the moment, that is going on here. It’s something that I
constantly look forward now and it’s become much more
aware of it when photographing. It’s kind of the same thing with this. It’s this weird like, very
nice tension in a photograph. That’s not really sure
what’s going on or it’s like the moment that came before or the moment that’s about to happen. To ruin that, this guy
was going over and getting the ball that was kicked
over the fence and he was bringing it back over
for the football game. High school sports are great. There’s so much… People give it their all, and this player, this was
Don Bosco team in New Jersey and they went on to win state this year, when I was photographing this. And this player he played
offense and defense and just got the crap beat out of him. At some of the cheerleading
competitions down in Daytona. A lot of the things that I
photograph, it’s very straight forward. I pick and idea, I obsess
about it and then just shoot it and shoot it until I’m like
just completely exhausted with it. And from like one theme to the next. From the cheerleaders
to the flight attendants the body builders. I work on it until I’m just
kind of like, it’s time to move on to the next thing,
and whether that’s like a year or two years, three years. Just depending on how
busy personal life is, family life, assignment work. But it’s always great to have
these projects to work on. With the cheerleading some of
the coaches were telling me that they almost want the
players to go out and flirt and go out and get all that
stuff out of their system before they go and do all
the team stuff throughout the year. At the beach in Daytona, it’s
such a beautiful setting. the light. After the competitions and all the awards, everyone would go out
to the beach in the sand and pose and celebrate. So from a new story here,
from the cheerleading, the football players I went on
to work on my second project which was called most muscular, and this is at a body
building competition. I was originally assigned
this subject matter from Men’s Journal
Magazine to go to Las Vegas and photograph the Mr.
Olympia competition. And from going to go and do
that, I just was so drawn to how everything was
so like over the top. Everything was like so
extreme, taken to such an exaggerated level. So I did that assignment
and then I came back and I started photographing
body building competitions on my own and pitching stories. Made some of these pictures
for the New Yorker Magazine. And here are some of the trophies. A lot of my pictures also,
they touch on different things. Sometimes dealing with
stereotypes, groups of people. This picture I just like. Not much to say about it. And also body building’s
been something that’s been so heavily photographed
and it’s traditionally it’s such a serious intense
thing and I love just interjecting some humor into it, and trying to approach
something in a different way. And even still like earlier
this month did a shoot down in Miami photographing
a body builder. It’s interesting when
starting to put out certain subject matters like photo
editors and art directors really identify with it. The working world can be a
very, very literal place. Which also it’s great
and interesting that way because that’s why I love
sharing the personal work and then really enjoying
the assignment work that comes in from that. ‘Cause at this point
everything’s very, it’s all very closely related. And after photographing
something for a while really wanting to try to look
at it in a different way. And after taking more of the
documentary style pictures just wanted to really try
to abstract things and make it much more about the expression. And this is another one of the trophies, yeah the trophies were amazing. I feel like I can have a whole
collection of things from over the years of just
going to like photographing, yeah all these different
trophies from jobs. This was at the original
Mr. Olympia competition. This became my second show at clamp art. Yeah back in like 2005. So at the same time of
photographing the body builders I also started on this
series which became about flight attendants. And this was the first picture
that I made in the series and this was on a small
commuter flight up to boston and on the way back just kind
of looked up and saw this, this stereotypical call button, and as everyone was deboarding
my assistant and I were like grabbing the Hasselblad
and cue flashes and scrambling awkwardly crouching down the
seat trying to photograph this little call button. It was a fun moment ’cause
it was just kind of like knew it was gonna lead to something. The curiosity in something. And this also just kind of
naturally presents itself. It’s when I started
traveling a lot for magazines and was naturally on
airlines and this thing was just around me. Even though we ended up
pitching different stories to try to get access, basically
how I was able to photograph this was pitching stories to magazines. Travel stories, fashion
stories to help get access and then… Yeah to get out and shoot. Me and the editor put
together a giant long list and a lot of airlines just
wanted nothing to do with us but some of them, they
got it, they were into it. And then that’s how the project started. This was in Malaysia, in
Kuala Lumpur Air Aisa, this was at their flight attendant school. This is in Iceland. I love the style of people,
different hints into their personality, are things
that really make me interested in making a picture about something. I started this project
photographing domestic airlines like Southwest and I don’t
know if it’s in here but there was a picture of Hooters
Airline and then pretty quickly I wanted to go overseas where
it’s much more nostalgic and yeah, had a different mood to it. And this was in Iceland,
I just loved the calmness of the activity going on, in
the flight attendant school. This is like my rock video picture. I was like this is amazing,
the heels, the hats, the smoke, action. It happens. This is the exhibition,
some installation shots at Clamp Art. I showed the pictures in
a few different cities but we started the show
here with Brian Clamp and these were big 40×40 inch prints. I’ve always worked between
like a 15×15, 20×20 and 40×40 size. This was the next series I worked on. This was construction. The next few slides, these
are examples of different book covers that we played around with. I worked with an art director friend, who was the art director of
Details Magazine for many years. These were a few different
things and none of these were chosen but I think it’s
just nice kind of seeing the process of things
until getting to the final. I worked on this book with decode books, which is a great small
publisher out in Seattle. It was a wonderful process,
’cause we just worked very closely directly with the
publisher and worked on the sequence scene and he would print out, we went through two small
book dummies and then a final full size just to
be able to sit with it, live with it, flip through it, before actually finally
going on to press along with doing all the rounds of
the color proofs and stuff. This was some of the
layouts that we were playing around with. I always go impress… It’s just a nice, it’s like
a great experience to do and final stage in the process. I highly recommend it. I mean most of the color proofing is done kind of leading up to it. With just the proofs, the back and forth and making notes and stuff. And probably about 10 percent
of colors finally adjusted on press. It’s nice kind of final thing. This was in China in Shenzhen
just out of Hong Kong. And these are the different plates, the guys had an amazing eye. it’s just kind of like a crazy
experience of being on press for like 12, 14, 16 hours straight. Taking a break, going back
and everything building up and just seeing the final
thing and seeing it come to life’s pretty awesome. This is the viewing board. And everything’s printed
on the giant sheets then cut up and this is the cover. And this is lunch at Ikea. There was a big Ikea right there. My publisher he goes
there every time he goes and just well, yeah. Yes. So this is all the sheets how
everything’s like laid down to try before it’s cut and bound. And this is the beautiful printing plant. I always get sick when I go
here, it’s like all the ink in the air, and just everything. Yeah. It’s a crazy experience. This is the final book. And a few of the spreads. And the similar installation shots. These were smaller prints,
I wanted to tell much more of a story on the gallery wall. And just kind you know,
wanted a different experience looking at something smaller. And this was the final. And a few of the photos from it. This was actually kind of
the hardest things to go and photograph. Just with all the liability involved. I originally started approaching
the contracting companies on job sites but there’s
basically like three cooks in the kitchen. The contractors, the
architects and then the money. In the end I was like, oh
I should try approaching the architects and it was
just reaching out to a lot of them but them being
more the creative person in the picture, they were
the ones that how I ended up getting access to go and shoot. It was an interesting place going on. You think of construction sites
that there’s all this stuff but it was a lot of just kind
of like wandering and looking and the moments felt very different to me. I mean each project it’s kind
of stylistically it feels like it changes just very subtly or yeah. In these they felt much
more, began to feel much more like landscape pictures, than previous work had. Boobie pictures, and more of
the boys on the job sites. Boys being boys. And then guns. (chuckles) It’s weird it’s like I
feel like I don’t know. I feel like my life is climaxing
in this photographing vices and all of these weird things. It’s a fun thing being
a working photographer and traveling. It’s just like everyday it’s new. For the past week and a half
I’ve been working on a story for the New York Times
Magazine, photographing people in their workplace,
photographing during their lunch hour and
they’re great like weird, corky weird pictures. It’s wonderful, I mean people are like… You’re always clicking
and then shooting right as the foods about to go into
the mouth and yesterday and CNBC this guys eating
like BBQ ribs but like eating them with
chopsticks and they’re all sitting at computers. I don’t know, it’s kind
of an amazing life being a photographer and getting to
go and always see new things and just these totally random experiences. I mean half the time it’s
like I don’t know where I am these days. It’s like in the past month,
I was in Illinois, Miami, Oaxaca, drinking Mezcal. Mezcal story for like a week. My driver that I was working with, he was like drinking more
than me and my assistant were. We were like we lived through all of that. And then San Francisco, LA. It’s fun, it’s really fun
like addictive lifestyle. And kind of really
awesome to be able to go and see all these things. This was a project I worked
on about U.S. Marshals. It came about a buddy of mine
I went to high school with. He became a U.S. Marshal
in Houston, we reconnected leading up to our 20
year high school reunion. I was just like wow that’s
incredible, sounds amazing. He was like you know come check it out, and I was in Houston over
the holidays and went down and yeah I wanted to shoot this. He put me in touch with
their PR department in D.C. and I was like I’m a photographer,
I’d love to do a book, you guys game? And they were, okay. I think it’s kind of
amazing photography now, I think it’s a really
great time for photography. People wanting to tell their
stories and to be seen, yeah just reality TV and
now like social media, like all of this stuff. Like people want the
attention, they want to tell their stories. And that’s how things like
this we’re able to go and do. They wanted to share what
they do because they’re just kind of like, well other
government agencies don’t like… people are more familiar with it. So it’s kind of how I started
doing it at the Marshals. This was a wild thing. This was down… I shot at a bunch of different
cities around the country and this was a trip, a Texas trip between Brownsville and El Paso
for like a week going to all these different offices
along the border town. And this was a guy, him and his brother. He was actually pictured in here also. They were running to get
over the Mexico border and they caught up with them
at like a family members house, they were waiting for ’em. This is at a training facility. I like to play with the reality on things, it’s something that I keep
revisting and revisting. Because I love working in
the documentary tradition, but I like when pictures,
when you look at it between the lighting and the moments of not really knowing whether
something is real or not real. I like that curiosity that is built. This was at a flight attendant school. All of my stuff just overlaps
and it’s kind of like, well I’m photographing U.S.
Marshals but then I’m on a plane. This was at a U.S.
Marshals training facility at LAX. This is one of the first pictures
that I took of the series and this is my buddy Cameron, who brought it all together. This was from the previous
story of the brother when they were getting arrested. It was a really… For me it was a… I don’t know it was a really
strange picture to make. It was that personal space,
this thing was happening and it’s the very subtle
tear on his chest, that really became touching. And I always use flash and
I went into the front seat and was making this picture
and just knew that I couldn’t be like popping stuff,
just because this moment that was going on. This was upstate, we
did a lot of ride alongs with the U.S Marshals and
my assistant and I we’d be in the backseat of the SUV
with the tinted windows and with the binoculars ourselves. It was a very… A lot of the times just
kind of get very wrapped up in the world when taking pictures. Because it’s kind of like
you share so many experiences together with the people
that you’re photographing. And I like that about it. I feel like tonight even
it’s coming and like sharing, most of the time it’s just kind
of putting out individually but I think, it’s kind of like
people are the combination of all the stories that they tell. And the pink handcuffs, this was in Vegas. And John McAfee, this
was an assignment for Wired Magazine. From going and photographing
guys with guns. Then I started getting
assignments related to it. I think people are familiar
with this story with John. It was like a few years ago. Wired Magazine had been
doing a profile on him for like six months on and
off and right before it runs, they send me down to
Belize where he was staying to photograph him and all his body guards and his girlfriends. All this stuff. When I’m working and
shooting it’s always these random places which is kind of great. These different worlds to
have these vignettes into and to experience, and
his whole story is like he’s a big tech guy, he
developed McAfee securities which is on most websites and stuff. Crazy smart guys, got in some
issues here in the States and late 90’s went down to
Belize for like 10 years and when he was down there
then he started getting I don’t know he’s bored,
started getting in some trouble with the government there
with like accusations of drugs and the guns and putting together
like a little police force thing. So the photo editors like lets send Brian. (chuckles) To go down and hang out
and yeah I spent like two days with him. And photographed him with his girlfriends and it’s interesting. I mean I think about
photography a lot obviously have done it for a long time
and I think what part of it I’m just kind of like, how
did this stuff happen in front of me, or how these things. I think a lot of it is like,
It’s a personality thing. Totally was at like the transition. (chuckles) It’s just kind of like, I don’t
know disappear in a place. I’m very like unassuming,
I’m not too intimidating it’s just kind of like
hanging out, I get that. It’s just like that time spent. So much of what I do is
traveling, it’s sitting on a plane sitting in a rental car. You know wherever it might
be and then it’s just that kind of like, it’s cool
just you know, letting things happen and even though sometimes
instigating a little bit. But also seeing things. This was a job, that was
some work stuff just wanting to show from like the personal,
some of the work things. But I love my assignment
work, that was always my goal. Like going into art school I
was like I wanna be a magazine photographer. i wanna do that. And at the time I didn’t
really realize the lifestyle that in entailed. The travel, like all that. But it’s a lot of fun. It’s a really good time and yeah. So this was for ESPN this
was college football game, LSU it was a cool thing
they did for a while it was called one day one
game and they would get like a dozen photographers,
a dozen writers (mumbles) team up and just scour. And they were funny, you
just shoot whatever you want basically and some people
would go and whatever. Do locker room things, do crowd things. They would kind of make
fun of me afterwards because they’d always
be like, Brian would go to the cheerleaders and to
like the crazy tailgating. I would shoot nothing
else but lots of that. So yeah. Being a photographer, I honestly
believe reality is the best it’s like you can never make it up. It’s amazing it’s just
like you can go and find it and see it. There’s just something
simple and nice about that. This I mean, I love the
assignments that I get. It’s kind of like stuff
that I would just love to go and shoot anyhow. Yeah. And some more, this was
a different assignment but some more football. Love it. People are amazing. I also love one thing with like… The thing about photography, in doing it it’s kind of like
thinking about personality and how things come together. I really realize like… Hold on, I feel like I
should explain these. (chuckles) This was a shoot for Details
Magazine, this story was called Frat Boys. They weren’t real frat
boys but it was a bar on Avenue A called The Boys Room, and it was frat boy
themed and I just loved the whitey tighties
and like all the boners and all that stuff, it was everywhere. My assistant too was like,
I thought they were trying to steal my wallet. ‘Cause it was crowded
it’s like a crowded place. I was like dude they’re
just grabbing your ass. And yeah I just love to
be along for the ride. It’s kind of pretty great. Wow I forgot what I was gonna say before. Oh yeah, (mumbles) attention span. (chuckles) And this one, this is the last one. Lets see what’s next. Well this one kind of
fits what I was gonna say, but my process of taking pictures, thinking about it, it
totally fits my personality and I realize I have like total OCD. I see things happening and
I must formally try to make it super clean and to organize it. And then it’s like I
wanna mess it up again, just a little bit. Like something happens
that makes it that moment. That picture. This is my first story
for National Geographic this was two years ago. This was about American’s
obsession with beef and I photographed it all
in the state of Texas. It was great to go back and
spend like three months on and off between here
and New York and Texas and photographing something,
it was where I came from. This story it came about kind
of through my Instagram feed. I live in Brooklyn, I love BBQ. I love smoking BBQ. I love eating BBQ. I love all of it. I love throwing BBQ’s. I take lots of BBQ pictures. The editors were somewhat
familiar with my work. I applied to some grants,
I didn’t get any of them. One of the editors
reached out and were like we’re thinking of this story for you and I was like, amazing. And I was like I’m from Texas, I love BBQ. So they sent me on my meat adventure. I went all around the state,
this was up in the panhandle. Went to these old ranches
where they still go out to the pasture and brand out there. It was all from farms to table. Butchers, actually I’ll show the pictures. Butchers, which was amazing. This was like our second day in Texas. Up in Lubbock, and we went to this
artisan butcher and within 20 minutes two guys had
killed the cow, cut it half, skinned it and put it in
the fridge and hung it up. And it was just kind of
amazing to see first hand. When all this is going on
there’s always a health inspector there and like you expected
this is actually the head off to the right and
they’re inspecting every cow for disease and stuff and
the butchers were like is this turning you off beef? I’m like no way this is kind of amazing. Yeah. And BBQ restaurants. I love how carnivorous
this whole thing feels, it feels very animalistic. Lots of eating. This was at the Big
Texan eating competition. I love that being uncomfortably
close to people all the time. It’s interesting, like going and shooting. I’m so used to photographing all the time. I get this thing where I just… When I’m not working I’m just
kind of looking at people. And if they catch me looking,
it feels like it should be natural but there’s no camera. Then it just feels creepy. (chuckles) In the whole obsession and over the top, beef. It was an amazing experience
being out at this ranch for a week. National Geographic,
it’s such a unique thing. So different that other
publications, just with the amount of time and just kind of delving into it. It’s a very thorough,
sometimes overly thorough process in a really great way. This was another story I
did for National Geographic, this was earlier this year
about the science of taste. Yeah I do a lot of food
related things also. This was at a taste lab
in Philadelphia where they stained the tongue blue
and count the taste buds, to determine whether
someone’s a super taster. Apparently I’m a non tasters. Most of us are non taster. Sorry. But yeah it’s based on
3/4 of the population are non tasters. But it’s more like I
love eating hot sauces and I don’t know all these random things, that come from it. This was in Copenhagen. And something different. This is a current series
that I’m working on called Hip Hop Honeys, video vixens. The stuff that I photograph it’s kind of self explanatory. This came about a photo
editor that I work with in Italy. We were at this photo festival
and she had seen this BBC documentary about video vixens. And she was like Brian
this subjects amazing, you would love this. Just the people, the
styling and all that stuff. Yeah, I would normally like… I have no deep reason why I
go and shoot things sometimes. I mean during this time
I was getting a divorce, life was crazy. I’m like this sounds amazing
to hang out on the set of a hip hop video and
be around all of this and be like wow I’m here shooting this. So that’s how this started. But I love it, I think
it’s I don’t know… I’m trying to like… It’s like self sensor. Anyhow. (chuckles) Yeah it’s been a fun thing to shoot, I’m starting to work with
New York Magazine published a small piece. I’m starting to work with a writer there, and also possibly like an
illustrator to do something that’s maybe not totally
about photos but something outside of just maybe a
straight forward photo book. I’m trying to figure that out now. This I worked through a casting director and it’s everything from
kind of B level stuff to Jay-Z videos, Busta Rhymes. It’s great, it’s different
levels of casting and some it’s wonderful. It’s like super low budget
like this in some hotel room that they didn’t even pay for a location. We’ve been chased out of locations. But it’s nice, all the
different situations. I’m one of those people, I
don’t really overthink things I just do it and do it and
do it and do it and do it. And I like that about it. I think it’s a fun exploration. The world of selfies does it so well. I also like making these kind of like… This felt like a new picture to me. Just very ambiguous
moments that didn’t really talk about anything but just
kind of created a curiosity. I love all the attitude,
these models they’re just owning it. I think it’s pretty awesome. And from this I get
advertising work to do. Oh gosh, what was it. SoCo, Southern Comfort, thanks. This Adrian everyone, we’ve
worked together forever. We were working today,
I dragged her along. Here we are. Booty. Smoking. I photo my vices. (chuckles) Everywhere. The guns isn’t a vice. Money. I love it, everything’s
fake, it’s this interesting thing of fake guns, fake money. Fake booty, even though
no one would admit it. Yes this is the last little
series that I brought. This was an assignment guys. This is what I do for work these day. (chuckles) This was a job for Boston Magazine. This I shot in December,
amazing way to end the year. They were like we wanna send
you to Jamaica to photograph at this hedonism resort. I’m like okay sounds great. So yeah basically we saw everything. To put it into perspective
at the resort there was a all nude side and then a prude side. And the prude side was
pretty much all naked also. So yeah. Well I’ll show some of the pictures. Yeah. But it’s great I mean
these people were there. It was fun. They were there you know
enjoying themselves. Some people were swingers,
nudists, some people just wanted to go and watch. That’s cool too. But I loved it. It was nice, it was wonderful being there. It was kind of like Austin
Powers, creating a little fig leaf that went
around all the body parts because seeing these things,
there’s so many pictures made of like swingers or sex
clubs and it’s the ambiguity and the curiosity I think
that makes it really nice It makes you want to keep
looking at the photos, instead of something that’s like… Yeah. This is the last one. It’s a crazy ride, it always is. There were foam parties,
running around naked. It’s great. Mezcal adventures in Mexico. It’s a good time. So thanks for listening to my rant guys. Happy to answer questions. (applause) – [Voiceover] I was just
curious about your choice of using a square photograph. How did you arrive at that,
and just curious about it. – I love the formality of the square. I started shooting Hasselblad back in like the late 90’s. It’s also going… I grew up loving the photographs
of traditional documentary photographers like
Eugene Smith, Jill Perez, Robert Frank. Like that whole black and
white story telling thing. And it came to a point… Actually it’s a good point to make. That’s even what I was
doing when I was in school. I went and photographed
heroin use in the south Bronx and a friend that was a drag queen. It was all like 35
millimeter black and white, very reportage. And then I got this grant to go to India and work on this story about child labor. And then just after doing
it I went through some personal stuff. I was like, I wanna find
something that feels more like my own. And I started shooting
with the Hasselblad, introducing the cue flashes. And just to kind of like
really heighten the moment between the use of color,
the flash, the moments and square, it just felt right. It’s just the formality of it and stuff. It was different than I had been seeing and just a combination of
the different elements. It just felt more like my
own and physically I love the physicality of holding a Hasselblad, I would mount like a 90
degree prism and cut off this flash bracket and
just be able to shoot and just the way that the square felt. And then came Instagram. (chuckles) Yeah that’s kind of the process. Also, I was starting to shoot color. I like just the detail
in the medium format. I was kind of dealing with that. Now I shoot Nikon, like D3X, D800, D810. Still with cue flashes and
stuff and sometimes mixed with other speed lights or
pro photos, different things. But I shoot, (mumbles)
started shooting that was just that it does he four, five
sensor crop and the viewfinder crop and for me it was a
close easy transition from film into digital. And I’m a better photographer. The responsiveness of
like how tight the TTL is and the auto focus and the auto exposure. I can shoot more, play around
more, look for other moments. Do things it’s just the spontaneity. ‘Cause so much of my pictures
is just about reacting in a situation. It just, yeah it works. If it didn’t I would be doing it. Yeah guys I’m happy to
answer technical things also. I realize I didn’t really
touch on that very much. Or any sort of like work stuff also. I’m sure that’s good things. – [Voiceover] So you’ve
done both advertising and editorial work. What are some of the major differences? For you personally and professionally? – Everybody, this is my girlfriend
Diane, she came in late. (chuckles) Editorial, advertising. It’s both great. I do one for a while
and it’s fun to run off and do another one. They’re different experiences. Editorial it’s great just running around with my assistant. And like that relationship
and just kind of going and exploring. And then it’s fun when
there’s like budgets and the producers just like
making everything happening. And yeah, they’re different
experiences and it’s fun doing both. I couldn’t always do advertising. I’d go a little crazy. And editorial it’s like
it’s the go, go, go, go, go. You kind of like yeah, run out
of steam at some point also. So it’s a nice combo. – [Voiceover] To build on
that question actually. Do you have a situation
where, lets say with the flight attendants, it comes
back as an advertising job. Does somebody say hey, you did a great job with your book, can you shoot
our next advertising campaign? – Yeah it’s happened
twice, which is great. I did some stuff for Air
New Zealand a few years ago. Especially with the flight attendants. With something being such
a unique, subject matter. A lot of times clients are
very literal, they need to see to make that connection
of like, and I get it, it’s like they have to pitch
it to a client, the client needs to see what they
gonna get type of a thing. So yeah, I did a bunch of Delta
stuff last year for a while and it was great. A lot of it comes very
directly related like some of the back to the hedonism thing. I did a story for Men’s
Journal last spring. I was photographing this big cruise ship and then, yeah it was all
these hot tub parties and stuff and then the editor,
like that stuff comes out then I get a call like
right away to do that. It’s a good thing, it’s kind
of, it’s a very simple thing to say but it’s very much
like what you put out is what you’ll get called to do. ‘Cause sometimes I know
like coming from being like to make that transition to working and if you make the decision
to work commercially, it’s kind of like oh well
I wanna work and I wanna get work or I just wanna be busy working. That’s why I’ve always
loved doing like the shows and that balance that
work personal balance because that’s kind of
where it all comes from and put out what you want in return. So, yeah. – [Voiceover] Can you talk a
little bit about gaining access specifically in the
beginning of your career, like you said that you
would like pitch stories to places. But can you just touch on
that a little bit more please? Sure, yeah I mean when I was
for instance when I started working on the cheerleading story I reached out to PR
departments there’s basically like two national big
cheerleading organizations and I’m straight forward honesty. Be like hey I’m a student
I’ve been taking some pictures for the village voice. Sent them like copies of a few tear sheets and then they just gave me a press pass. I think it’s just kind of
like, it’s the same thing when I like reaching out
to the Marshals offices. Kind of like being honest and
straight forward and direct. It’s like I wanna do a book. I work on this and it’s
great, then it’s what you know will become. So, I think it’s just kind
of really, yeah I guess simply that. It’s an interesting thing
though be on assignment, especially editorially
because a lot of the times like access somewhat has to be figured out and it’s kind of like being a photographer it’s like part psychologist
and just like meeting totally different people. And then trying to figure out how to like yeah, how to produce stuff. And that’s why something, like I realize, you guys, I’m sure you guys
are great photographers. Why I get a call, it’s that
I’ve been doing it for a while. It’s pretty simple that way. Like editors call because
they know I can go somewhere and yeah like recently did
a job in Japan, Nagasaki . And it was to photograph this
hotel that’s run entirely by robots. But it’s like yeah, it
costs money to get there, it can be expensive, they’re
flying myself and an assistant. Going through airports and
like the local airport wasn’t gonna let the batteries go on the plane. This has been like an issue like forever. Or it pops up every so often. But you know getting to a place, you know crazy jet lag. Like feeling weird, then
like how do you interact with people, and relate and
be able to like produce. It’s fun, it’s great. And it’s just nice, I mean
all of these like I know, like wow and I’m in this thing. How do I prepare myself,
you know just get my head right type of a thing. And be on yeah, and then produce pictures. So, yeah. – [Voiceover] Wondering
if you have any long term projects you’re working on
professionally and personally? Either. – I’m currently working
on the hip hop series. It’s been in the works
for three years now. It’s a little longer than
I normally work on stuff. I’m trying to complete that this year. It’s just like the last two
years literally that have been slammed with assignment work. Like last year it was like six months for National Geographic. Like flying all over the world, literally. (chuckles) Everywhere. One story came out, the
next one’s coming out in their March issue about food waste. So yeah, it’s time to complete that soon, is my goal. And then kind of see what’s next. A lot of times things, I
believe they kind of present themselves, just interests and transition from one thing to the next. So, yeah. We’ll see. – [Voiceover] I’m interested
in you mentioned Instagram and how do you use it? You use it for exploration,
promotion, behind the scenes. What do you do with Instagram? – I’m trying to figure that out also. Completely. A friend of mine that I
went to art school with I met in San Francisco last
week and she’s like one of the photo editors at Instagram now. We had dinner and I was trying
to drill her for everything. (chuckles) I was just like tell
me, what’s the answer. I think it’s great I
love like how much people are looking, everyone’s
looking at pictures. Everyone’s taking pictures. It’s kind of amazing,
everyone can like put pictures out there in the world. Between Instagram, between like you know self published books. I mean it’s all like… I think it’s a really
awesome time for photography. Instagram, it’s promotion,
it’s that balance of wanting to show professional pictures and then to personalize
a little bit with family stuff and then… Also to always show traveling. Like to me that’s kind of like big thing. Clients if they’re you
know, ’cause I mean. Yeah, everyone’s looking. Looking at it it’s like
people see, like wow Brian hasn’t gotten off a plane
in a while and that just perpetuates itself. It’s something that just
like, they see the work. They see the work posting
the new work, sharing it. National Geographic’s great. Well it’s good and it’s kind of annoying but it’s cool that they
put the platform out there, they give all like photographers
the login information and they want people to
post from the field when they’re shooting and now I’m doing stuff, posting stuff leading up to
like the next story coming out that’s in the March issue. Yeah, I mean I think to
have fun with it ultimately. But I think it’s also become
kind of a platform within it’s own. In the sense of like I come
from a generation of like loving photo books and seeing
pictures on the gallery wall. But it’s kind of like it’s it own, thing. And to itself, which I think is yeah. Another outlet. – [Voiceover] Could you
share your thinking about lighting and just your approach, when you’re setting up a shot. – Sure. I use quantum cue flashes. I love them, they’re
so small and portable. Run around everywhere with them. I originally started using
them because they were strong enough to overpower
daylight at like a very, like a closer distance. Like five to eight foot type of a thing. In more recent years I’ve
switched to just their newer models. That’s all like TTL. I like have one on camera. My assistant has one off camera. And I’m always like, I don’t
like playing trying to figure out lighting that makes sense
with a current subject matter, or where I want to change it. For myself like, more… More recently some of
the pictures were like, I would be like shooting a
subject and then my assistant would be holding a second
cue flash at like a 90 degree angle to subject. To create more hair light and
these kind of cross lights type of a thing. And now I’m kind of bringing
everything closer to camera, blow, to kind of blow things out. I love how portable they are. I also like to be able to
create different lighting moods very quickly. Because especially like,
we were talking before about starting about
scouting the office locations before going in and
working on this times job. And I show up and shoot. It’s like what I do all the time. So it’s kind of like having
these things depending on the location and the
mood that I wanna create and all that type of stuff. I also work with pro photo like (mumbles) off camera. Speed of light sometimes, close to camera on telephoto. Different stuff like that. But I also think also in
building like a story of pictures it’s nice to be able to mix
it up, so everything doesn’t have the same tone. And it’s just with moving
the lighting around. Yeah, enables that. So, yeah. – [Voiceover] What was
your experience at SVA like and how does your work
differ now from then and did you ever experiment in the studio and stuff like that either? – I mentioned some of it
before but yeah I mean I went from wanting the
black and white 35 type of a thing. Style of like the traditional
journalist documentary photographer. And I think it’s nice to
realize that because it’s kind of like… When I was in school I
was just so, this is me, this is what I wanted to
do and it’s nice to kind of allow things to change and
yeah, I’m always curious about that. Even though I think I
changed things very subtly, to me that feels nice with
trying different stuff. I mean I shoot in studios,
I do different things. Yeah, I deal with productions,
like big productions. What I love doing is running
around with one assistant. That always just feels good. It feels good when you’re
snapping on the battery pack and running around and
jet lagged and just kind of having fun with it, so. – [Voiceover] Shooting
other people, did you ever get a response from people
that saw their image? If it was negative or positive? – Can you repeat it please? Oh can I repeat it. (chuckles) Why’d you put me on the spot like that? (chuckles) Do I get negative or positive
responses from people when I photograph them
is your question right? Sure, both. Yeah. I mean negative, I don’t know how much. But I mean people like being photographed. I ask people, I never
shoot somebody that doesn’t say yes to having their picture taken. It doesn’t feel right. I wouldn’t appreciate
that of someone else. But it’s… Plus I like being close
to what I’m shooting, close to people, up in peoples business. People eating lunches above keyboards and like right there. Yeah, that feels good. I’m trying to think of other, yeah. – I wanna add something to that. Just a continue of that
question as long as you’re here with us. With the Marshals, I
mean you’re talking about a government agency, you’re
talking about law enforcement. Were there a lot of lawyers
involved or were there different restrictions put
on you as to what the images should look like? Or what kind of images,
you could actually use for the book. No, not in deciding like any
sort of aesthetic or editing choice like that. There were legal things that
were, that they set forth in the beginning that I was very aware of. I wasn’t able to use some
of the pictures because of that but, it’s like
a privacy thing of being in peoples homes. I mean they were like
you’re not allowed to enter premises when I’m there. The reality of it all this
like stuff is going on, and the guys the Marshals on the ground, they were just like
come and shoot all this. So then we go and yeah I
mean there’s some nice photos that weren’t able to use but I get it, I mean it’s fair, I
didn’t have consent so. Yeah. – [Voiceover] When you’re
given an assignment are you told where to go or
do you choose where to go? – Yeah I mean, they call
they book my flights, book the travel. Yeah I mean normally you’re
there to cover a specific thing. So you go and do that. What you’re gonna get a
call and not go and do what you’re told to do. – [Voiceover] No, no, no. Kind of like with the meat one, you know– – Oh okay my bad. – [Voiceover] Would it
be your choice or do they send you somewhere specific? Like with different kinds
of assignments that you get. – I was stuck in the head
of like what I’ve been doing for the past week and a half. Yeah I mean in that case
it works differently. I mean National Geographic’s
a little bit of an exception in that way. They kind of for the most
part put you out in the field Like send you somewhere with some contacts and it’s kind of going and
meeting people and kind of figuring it out that way. Building a story. Then there’s like with
that magazine then there’s meetings in D.C. and there’s discussions, it’s kind of… yeah talk about the whole editing process, why one pictures chosen from another, the conversation, it’s a big thing. Yeah I mean it’s working within
the confines of the subject matter of the assignment. Whether how broad or
specific that might be. Yeah. – [Voiceover] So Brian thank you so much and also thank you in
particular for making a hiatus in your shooting job so you
could be here with us tonight. – Oh yeah it’s my pleasure. – [Voiceover] To make
special (mumbles) for that. – Thank you. Thanks for having me guys. (applause)

Posts created 2006

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