With a penchant for dark, conceptual photography, Brandi is able to enticingly shed light and beauty to the eerier side. Check out her story below.
Say hello to Brandi:
Where are you from? Where have you been?
I’m from La Puente, California. As of right now, I’ve only been to random places around California. Sadly, Miami is about as far as I’ve gone, but traveling is in my plans for the next upcoming year or so.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
For the time being, it would have to be this little mountain some friends and I found in Yosemite National Park. Spending most of your time in the city, it’s not very common to find a space so serene to just relax for an hour.
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
I’d really like to make a series of shots inspired by some of my favorite songs. My list is endless. If I wasn’t pursuing photography, I would without a doubt be a musician. I feel like I see lyrics differently than most people, and I would really like to portray what I feel through these songs with my photos.
How would you describe your visual style?
Disturbing, yet alluring.
How do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration everywhere I go. Whether it be the internet or on the street, a complete stranger or a peer, another photographer or a painter. Something as simple as a doorway can inspire an idea for me. I just take note of these places or things and come back to it when I have a complete idea.
Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?
Most definitely, it has to happen from time to time. When I get a creativity block, I usually give myself a short break from my own work and step out from behind the camera. I find that the harder I try to force something that’s not coming to me, the less pleased I will be of the outcome for the project. I’m usually always on the lookout for art exhibitions or galleries and fun community events, generally just anything to keep me busy. I’m very lucky to have a group of friends with a wide range of styles and talents, so when things start to slow down I know I can also look to them for some tips.
Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?
I’ve been carrying around a camera since middle school. Granted, it was only a small point and shoot, but I did enjoy collecting memories wherever I went. I just got to a point in life where I needed to really start deciding what my future was going to be like, and I’ve always loved photographs. Photos are moments captured in time, without photographers, these are just memories otherwise lost. To me, that’s a pretty powerful job to have.
What types of photography do you do?
Nature, street, and conceptual portraits. My favorite would be the conceptual portraits. I love telling a story and creating a theme. From the location down to the makeup, you get to use your imagination and sometimes even create an idea or world that otherwise doesn’t exist.
What was the moment you decided to become a photographer?
At one point in time, I would’ve told you it was when I took my first photography class my senior year in high school. Now, it would be about two years ago when I finally took some strides to make a change in my life and enroll back in school. I’ve known for some time now that this is what I want to do, but taking that absolute leap has really helped solidify the thought, and I know this is where I’m meant to be.
What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?
I think it would be the same struggles every artists faces – free work. We’re artists, I get it, but just as I respect any other businesses service fee, I would hope to expect the same in return.
What are your favorite three photos you’ve taken?
This seriously is a tough one. One of my favorite things to photograph when I was introduced to the LA photo community was abandoned buildings. This was the first spot I was taken to, and I have returned many times for different shoots, but this has always remained my favorite shot of this place. I always look for the beauty in places and things that have a dark, gritty side to it, and this is just one example of how I try to do that.
This is where I introduce my love for darker subjects. Characters, storylines, and costume are everything to me. I grew up watching shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Tales from the Crypt. Thinking about it now, I can see why my imagination is so heavily influenced by these types of concepts.
Although I have a love for darker subject/costumes, I also absolutely love color. I feel I was able to express a happy balance of bright, bold colors and still have a gritty, street vibe for this photo.
Photography is competitive. How do you stand out?
I stay true to my vision and what message I look to get across to my viewers. The work I put out to the world is about my story and how I see things through my eyes – it’s not about trying to keep up with everyone else. I keep myself aware of the work going on around me, but I don’t let trends change the overall goal of my message.
What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?
Do your research, know your history, and take every opportunity to learn.
What is the best thing a model can do to make the most of a photoshoot?
Have a great attitude, be comfortable with their body, and be very aware of their facial expressions.
What was your most memorable photoshoot?
A shoot I did based off the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel. That was the first time I had plans to photograph a person, as opposed to a place or object. For having four locations and four outfit changes, the entire shoot went incredibly smoothly. Given this being my first shoot with someone, I’m still quite pleased with the outcome.
What’s the funniest story you have from being a photographer?
Some friends and I were walking around shooting LA at night, and some drunk guys were walking past us just saying nonsense about our piercings, cameras, and hair. A man dressed as Jesus came out of nowhere and stood up for us, then let us take photos of him.
If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would it be?
If I could photograph anyone or anything in the world, it would without a doubt have been Prince in his own element at Paisley Park in Minnesota. Prince was introduced to me at an early age, and has been a huge influence in my life ever since. I personally find him all around inspiring and truly one of a kind. So for me, it would have been the chance of a lifetime to photograph him.
Who was the most unforgettable model you’ve ever met?
JB Caroline. She was very comfortable in front of the camera and knew exactly how to work her body. She had a great attitude, was really fun to work with, and she just left a very good overall impression on me. I was really happy with the outcome of that particular shoot.
Who do you want to give a shoutout to?
My IG photo family (you know you who are), you guys are the best! Carlos Serrao, Nicholas Alan Cope, Ryan Burke, ZeroFriends art, and most importantly, Jason Perez, for all the help.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?
If I’m being honest, this is something I’m still working on myself. I’d like to think I still have a bit to grow and learn from before I get to that point.
What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?
Uncertainty, constant cancellations, or reschedules.
How do you bring out your model’s personality in a shoot?
I usually talk to them a bit to break the ice.
What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back in your photography?
I feel I could be much better at studio lighting. Once I have a larger variety of lighting situations to work with, I will have the opportunity to learn and grow more.
How do you express yourself through your photography?
I feel I express myself with my choice of subject and color. I tend to notice the unnoticed and find a way to beautify the strange. Much like myself, I don’t think everyone will always understand my work, but they will hopefully take a moment to acknowledge a subject they may otherwise overlook.
What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?
Quentin Shih, “The Stranger In The Glass Box”
What photography advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out?
Two words – equivalent exposure.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
- Your work represents who you are; shoot what you love.
- The photography itself is just half the work, have a great attitude with everyone you meet. The relationships you make along the way can make a huge impact on where you end up.
- If you truly want to be a photographer, have a plan. Not just a plan for here and now, but have a plan for your future and long term goals.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring models?
I don’t think it would be much different from the tips I have for an aspiring photographer. We’re all artists of sorts, but even though our jobs are a bit different, the same rules can apply. It is up to us how we conduct ourselves in our business.
What kind of gear do you have?
I have a Canon 60D, 50 mm 1.8, 18 -35 mm, Sigma 30mm 1.4. Admittedly, my 30mm is the newest, so I’ve been pretty stuck on that. It’s super sharp and I’ve just been really pleased with the photographs.
What’s one lighting tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
If you shoot with a lot of natural light, always be aware of the following:
- Time of day
- Direction of the sun
What’s one post-processing tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
Always, always organize your photos, and backup your files.
What is your most life-changing event?
Lightning in a Bottle 2016. I needed a big change and time away from the normal everyday routine, so I headed out for a five day camping festival with some friends. What I left with was so much more than I bargained for. I was surrounded by artists of all types who were masters of their craft, completely confident yet humble, that embraced and supported one another. For me, that weekend was a make or break moment and I either had to decide if I wanted to really take the next step toward my future or continue to stay put. I learned a lot about myself that week and what I’m truly capable of. It hasn’t been long since the trip, but every day since I’ve been back has just been another opportunity to better myself and further my goals.
What has photography done for you as a person?
I enjoy being around people, but I’m an introvert. Photography has helped me branch out as a person and learn to network. I’ve also become a whole lot more careful with my use of time and organization in my daily life.
What’s something no one knows about you that you’d like to share?
You know when you hear a song on the radio or something your friend may be playing? Maybe you write it down on your phone or a paper, or maybe even look it up. I have a book specifically for all those songs I write down and want to hear again.
Who’s your biggest hero in your life?
What’s one of your biggest fears?
Roaches, yuck. Flying roaches? Dead.
What will you be doing five years from now?
Still fulfilling my dreams. Hopefully working at one of my dream jobs.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve never been much of a daredevil, but I once went on the slide on Skyspace on the US Bank tower. It goes by fast, but that slide is really intimidating. I’m dreadfully afraid of heights, and the slide is clear so you can see everything.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
A hot air balloon ride watching the sunrise or sunset. This is on my bucket list, I’ll make it happen sooner or later.
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Brandi, here’s some contact information:
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Brandi! It is really appreciated!
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.