Through the use of dramatic and surreal images Brad is able to communicate tales of unusual depth that pierce straight into the heart. Each image is beautifully unique and vibrant, often depicting simple backgrounds with intricately built characters. Each image Brad produces goes above and beyond the last, surpassing many artists in meaning and visual.
Continue reading to get a small glimpse into his amazing process.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, what makes you tick?
My name is Bradley Branson and I am a portrait and conceptual photographer. I would rather be barefoot or outside in most situations, I love soup, I am horribly inflexible, I drink coffee and read every morning, tea is for my afternoons, when it is 73 degrees outside I get very lethargic, and the change of seasons is something I find extremely inspiring.
2. What got you started in photography?
This question is always interesting to me because I have a hard time pinpointing an exact place where I began intentionally to “do” photography. I do, however, remember my first time taking a photo. I was 10 and at Disneyland (which was already supremely magical in itself) and with my dads little silver canon point and shoot, I took a photo of the beloved Matterhorn ride. I was instantly obsessed. As in, I was shoving my little camera in everyone’s face and taking pictures of all the magical things at every possible moment.
From there, I simply kept exploring. At the beginning it was mostly just flowers and a brick wall ( I discovered every angle of that thing), but after a time, I became more and more interested in photographing people and telling a more direct story. I started experimenting with editing and what I could do to change everything in a photo, from saturating everything until it was hardly recognizable, to punching my own head off, to converting everything to B&W but leaving one color. These things all sort of combined as my knowledge increased, and I began to gravitate to a very intentional way of doing what I wanted to do, which was to take photos of people and tell my own stories.
Overall, I began to experiment through my imagination and find what it was I wanted to do through that, and this, above many things, is what I still continue to do today.
3. Describe your workflow, what is unique about your process?
I tend to create very intuitively. But, I also plan everything. It’s strange, even for me, I know. If it feels right, then I go for it. If it comes to me, then I write it down. Usually, yes, I have a goal for my shoots, a written paragraph on my phone or in my idea book of what I think it should look like, but I leave room for spontaneity. Basically, I want know what I’m doing, but if something inspires me in the moment, I will bend with it.
I have spent a lot of time not listening to myself in this way and really, and it hasn’t been until recently where I have been able to release myself from what I think I should be (or do), and to study my own way of doing things and to except it for what it is, my method. My mind works in stages, my inspiration comes in waves, my process has steps; I listen, because it is okay to be me, and it is okay to be you.
4. Is there a certain theme you try and express in your work? Why do you feel a need to share that?
I try to communicate God in everything I do. There is always hope, always truth and knowledge to be found in each of our lives, and I feel I am called to share this with other people, to spread hope and truth. Yet, I also portray elements of struggle. Life is not without it’s griefs or hardships or depressions, and I recognize that in my work; but also, it is in and through these things that we experience the Light of Christ. This message is something I know I can always go back to for inspiration, and it keeps me going.
5. Where do you find your inspiration? What stories compel you to create?
I believe inspiration can come from anything and anywhere, especially if we search for it. I have realized that I am inspired by many things that are outside of photography. Slow living, my Bible devotions in the evening, film photographs, nature, the way each season bleeds into the next, how the sun slips through the house in the evening. Each of these are a narrative in themselves and they help me see the story of what can be, of how I see the world, and they compel me to create.
6. Out of your images, which is your personal favorite and why?
I have many favorites, but “To Grow In Spirit” is one that has remained a favorite for a long time. I came up with the idea on a camping trip and for a while, it sat in my idea book. I think I was afraid to create it. Afraid, mostly, because I had no idea how to do it. It was because of these fears that I felt I had to make it.
So I went to hobby lobby and bought a single fake red rose. This brought on some interesting looks from the cashier, but that sort of justified my situation in a way; I felt weird, she thought I was weird, it was vindicated. And from there, I just began. Simply. I found that to merely start a project is sometimes the best way to learn how to do it. So I gave it a try and it worked and I, being connected to both the message of the photo and the experience, felt it to be one of favorite of my images.
7. Who has been your biggest role model and/or mentor during your journey?
Youtube. Lots of YouTube. Many days have been spent on there, learning the ropes of photoshop and devouring all the tutorials I could find. There hasn’t really been a single person who has been guiding me in it all, but through Instagram and Youtube, I have learned from some really amazing people and I definitely look up to them as creators. Meghan Faulkner, Beth Kirby, Elle Leckenby, Nate Crawford, Jonathan Mazaltov, and Brooke Shaden to name some. I tend to gravitate toward feeds that are different from mine, but I look at their writing and their own stories they each convey through their words and photos, and I just love seeing their work and hearing their voice.
8. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be strong when life requires it. Be gentle when life allows it. As you grow, don’t forget to hold on to the little child who can see the pixie dust. Be unapologetically yourself in everything you do, the person God has equipped you to be.
9. What would you tell your younger self, the you who just started photography?
It is okay to take breaks. The world will still exist when you get back online or take another photo. Listen to yourself and what you need to keep going. Write down everything. You will face fears with many faces, but they are there for your growth. Drink the tea. And as long as you have breathe, you have Hope.