Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Dozen Details: Artist Interview with Brandon Lyon...

I just love doing these artist interviews! I now have a perfectly good excuse to ask my favorite artists a bunch of random questions about themselves!

I have been a fan of photographer Brandon Lyon's work since I first saw him on Flickr. He has an incredibly charismatic style which resonates through all his images. They are crisp and fresh and I could literally look at them all day! 
So many of my photographer friends are women. I was incredibly excited that Brandon agreed to be interviewed because, in addition to really loving his work, I had some questions I was dying to ask a male in the business. His answers confirmed how much I admire him and his work. 

1) When did you first fall in love with photography?

I had always had a real interest in photography.  Throughout high school I was always in awe of what my friends were doing in their photography classes but I was always a bit nervous to pick up a camera of my own and try, I thought I would make a disaster out of it.
It wasn’t until about two years ago that I met a now good friend of mine who specialized in portrait photography.  One day she handed her Nikon D300 over to me and said “why don’t you try?”.  I think it was at that moment that I knew this was what I wanted to do.

2) What gear do you use and what can’t you live without?

I actually don’t use a whole lot of gear when I shoot.  I have a Nikon D90 and I mostly shoot with my 50mm.  I think that lens would be the one thing I COULD NOT part with.  I love that little guy, he makes my pictures look purrdy J
Aside from that, it would be hard for me to live without Lightroom and Photoshop.  Half the battle is processing and at least for me, not being able to utilize them would take away that certain ‘emotion’ that I like to put in my work.

3) You’re excellent at self portraits! Many of us have such a hard time making ourselves the subject. How do you get into the SP groove?

Oh geeze, it was rough to start taking SP’s.  I was of that mindset “I’m a photographer, always behind the camera never in front.” But what really helped was starting my flickr 365.  Since that was really the whole point, I had to be the subject.
Now I really enjoy taking them.  It’s nice to be able to dress up and do a quick modeling shoot just like that!   Plus I have learned so much from taking pictures of myself.  Lighting, composition, color, pose…it’s truly a wonderful workshop to sharpen your technique.

4) There has been a massive boom of women photographers. As a male artist, how has this changed the industry for you? 

I know!   I think a good 80% of my contacts on flickr are female.  To be honest, when I first got started I was always surrounded by or inspired by female photographers.  So that’s always been rather normal. What’s really fun to see is some of the male photographers that I stumble across because it’s such a gear shift.  I notice that the different sexes go about photography in very different ways and it’s really inspiring to watch both sides.

5) Do you think this boom of women photographers is helping or hurting the art of photography?

Helping!  I would never consider the expansion of art a negative thing.  Women photographers are fantastic and like I said we go about photography in different ways.  Women look at the world differently than guys do, I would say they look even more closely.  Women pay attention!  They pick up on things that I would for instance overlook. 
It’s great to get that other mindset, to see the world through their eyes.  I love it.

6) Do you find it an advantage to you to be a male amidst the ever growing population of female photographers?

Only when I post pictures of my abs! TOTALLY KIDDING Hahaha.  You know, I never try to compete or try to feel like I should have an upper hand in the field.  I take photos to capture the world that I see and I just hope that I can share that world with the people around me.
I think it makes for an interesting dynamic when you have a female and a male going out and taking photos together.  Different ideas are shared.  I love more the collaboration than trying to feel ‘superior’.

7) How do you think your vision differs from that of women in your field?

I’m not sure if I could pin-point it to one specific difference.  In fact I would hope my vision differs from everyone’s just as I’m sure they would want the same.  Three people could take a picture of the same flower at the exact same time and get different results. 
It’s our own visions that allow us to stand out and be unique and I just try to stay true to myself and  capture what I would like to see.

8) You have an amazing way of capturing your subjects. How do you get your portrait clients to look so relaxed in their photos?

Aside from that fact that I am blessed with some amazing friends who don’t mind me sticking a camera in their face I ALWAYS always try to keep my shoots simple.
I’m not a puppeteer. I don’t move your arm this way or that way.  I don’t make you sit at a 90 degree angle and tilt your head 45 degrees to the left with one eyebrow raised.  That’s too formal for me, too cold..to staged.
When I do a shoot, I turn my camera on and just start taking photos.  I let my model get comfortable with their surroundings.  I try to capture their mannerisms, their natural stance.  I talk to them.  About their day, about their life.  The only way you can get genuine portraits is if you let your models be genuine.  When that happens, their natural beauty shines through and your photos are going to be ten thousand times more organic and real than anything contrived.

9) Do you have any formal photography training? What has been the single biggest help in your learning process?

No formal training.  Everything has been trial and error (and there has been so much error haha). 
Flickr has been my best learning tool to date.  I’ve made some amazing friends and we’ll get on instant messenger, throw ideas back and forth…compare gear, tips, tricks etc.  I have learned so much from just browsing through the flickr explore pages and seeing the work that people produce.  It’s such a joy to have.

10) Where do you go for inspiration? And/or where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere!  Really, everywhere.  I’ll be reading a book and a commercial will come on with some attractive model and I’ll want to take a photo like that.  Magazines, sunlight, food, conversation, music!  If there’s something I love, I want to try and capture it in picture form.  There’s so much of it everywhere.

11)  What are three words you’d like people to use {either now or someday} to describe you and/or your photography?
Simple, charming and good (one can dream! hahaha)

12) What does success look like to you?

If you are happy, you are successful.  At the end of the day if you can smile, you know you’re doing it.  You’re in it, you’re there. 
You know that feeling when you are in the middle of a shoot, you snap a picture and you go back to preview it to make sure everything looks alright?  The image pops onto the screen and everything just came out perfect.  You are just so giddy you run over to your model and shout “Oh my gosh look!” with a huge smile on your face. 
That’s the feeling of success, knowing that I’m doing it.  Doing what I love.  I am going to chase that feeling around forever because there’s no other point to life except to do the things that make you happy.

Do you not just love him??? You can find more of Brandon on his blog, his Flickr stream, and you can purchase prints in his print shop.

Thanks so much for being a part of this series, Brandon! It was so fun having you!


kristinak May 18, 2010 at 10:03 AM  

Love this! Brandon is the best. :):)

Jo Bekah Photography May 18, 2010 at 10:07 AM  

this is awesome!

Johnna Riddell May 18, 2010 at 10:14 AM  

- sigh -

I'll admit, I squealed a little when I saw on flickr your interview was with Brandon...

I just love his work!

It really has a masculine feel. The first time I see one of his photos I immediately see that vision that differs from my own. That subtle something that sets it apart :) His work really is charming... emotive... and so so good.

I really loved this interview, such lovely insight!!

barbara May 18, 2010 at 10:43 AM  

great interview!

Jade Sheldon May 18, 2010 at 1:13 PM  

Haha, FANTASTIC interview! Great questions, thoughtful answers, and I love the pictures you included!

Michelle May 18, 2010 at 5:09 PM  

This was a really great interview. Thanks Brandon for sharing your work and thoughts. Thanks, M ~ for this insightful and cool series.
I love it.

Jennifer Gregory May 18, 2010 at 8:20 PM  

Yumm. I'm hooked. Thanks for sharing this fabulous artist.

Drat, and here I was supposed to be cleaning out blogs, not adding to the :P

Hyacynth May 18, 2010 at 9:06 PM  

Wow! Those photographs are so awesome. I love all of the different styles I see as I continue to find more and more amazing photographers.

Jennifer Gregory May 18, 2010 at 10:17 PM  

Oh my good gracious! I must post again.

I just finished up dinner and went poking at his Facebook page. He's literally down the street from me.

O.k., this gives me the incentive to get my rear in gear for my own website instead of letting it sit there.

I must find the time to sit, follow, observe and otherwise make myself annoying during one of his session so that I can learn something new.

Rosie Fluegel May 19, 2010 at 12:12 AM  

Great interview!

Linda May 19, 2010 at 10:11 AM  

This is a great interview. How exciting!

Teresa May 19, 2010 at 4:44 PM  

What an interesting interview...love his work and it is so fun to read more about him!

t does wool May 19, 2010 at 8:35 PM  

what a great interview...thanks for the intro maegan~~

Jamie May 19, 2010 at 10:00 PM  

What a great and talented discovery! I'm loving this series - I feel like I'm learning little bits for each of the people you've featured.

Kim Klassen May 21, 2010 at 10:05 PM  

oh my completely inspiring interview.... wonderful!!

brandon, you ROCK!!
and i've been living under a rock...:)

must check you out...
like i said, very inspiring...

thanks meg..