Location: Detroit, MI
Brian Kaufman is a national, three-time Emmy Award®-winning video journalist with the Detroit Free Press. The Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit named him the 2009 Young Journalist of the Year. His contributions to web video production and multimedia have pushed news delivery to the forefront in a digital world. Through a compelling mix of cinematography and traditional still photography, Kaufman’s style of visual storytelling is an intimate reflection of the subjects that he works with.
I went through the Visual Journalism program at Brooks Institute of Photography in California and graduated in 2006. The program was a mix of traditional photojournalism, solo video journalism and other multimedia.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned either from a teacher or mentor?
Regarding documentary video, a teacher once told me that, “If you didn’t get it, it didn’t happen.” As documentary photographers and filmmakers, we want to capture everything that’s deemed important, but it’s just not possible. Rather than being upset and having anxiety about the moment that got away, be satisfied with those that didn’t.
What was your first job?
My first published photo ever—I made 10 bucks—was a shot of my brother snowboarding in the backcountry of Idyllwild, Calif. It was published on the front page of the town’s small weekly newspaper, The Town Crier. The funniest thing about this paper is its motto, “Almost all the News, Part of the Time.” We were both stoked.
What advice would you give to a photographer who is still in school?
There’s no guide to finding your way into this broad industry, which I believe is a good thing. Play to your strengths, be willing to shift, and be ready to go. Shy away from jaded photographers who tell you there are no opportunities. I started shooting for newspapers when newspapers were hurting in a bad way. I’m still doing it and it’s been the best opportunity I could have asked for.
What inspires you about photography?
Its wide range of appeal and use in society. For something that’s relatively new, photography has permeated every facet of our existence and has had a profound impact on history. Everyone can connect with photography. I find that fascinating.
What kind of camera equipment do you use?
I go as light as possible, often choosing just two lenses to take with me on any shoot. I use the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L II USM, Canon EF 50mm ƒ/1.4 USM, Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM, Canon EF 100mm ƒ/2.8L Macro IS USM and Canon EF 600mm ƒ/4L IS USM with a 2X teleconverter.
What’s your favorite piece of Canon gear?
Undoubtedly, the Canon EF 100mm ƒ/2.8L Macro IS USM.
To see more of Brian Kaufman’s work, go to www.bkjournalism.com.