Thursday, June 14, 2007
David Allan Brandt - A Touch Of Subtlety
David Allan Brandt's imagery is grounded in reality, but takes a hard turn into artistic surrealism
So when Brandt felt that he wasn't getting the “wow” he was looking for, the photographer went on creative hiatus. And, of course, he also wanted to avoid being typecast into a specific category of photography, something that happens all too often among professional photographers.
“I've always tried to walk a fine line between advertising and fine-art photography,” says Brandt. “I don't like shooting the same thing over and over, and that has been kind of a hindrance in advertising photography because they want to classify you as a celebrity, fashion or product shooter, or something like that. I've always fought being classified, and that's a hindrance because it goes against the traditional way agencies select you for jobs.”
So this is the interesting part about the hiatus. Right about now you might be nodding your head, thinking that you can understand the need to take a break from forcing oneself creatively, but the fact is that Brandt knew his passion for artistry wouldn't wane. Instead, that creativity would simmer inside him until it would boil over. And that would open up a brave new world of possibilities. Brandt decided to pursue a new category of clients who would take a fresh look at his conceptual eye, and then he could make the artistic images that he most wanted to create.
Elaborating on that period of time, Brandt says, “I'd say it took a year or two, but it was definitely a pivotal time for me to get myself into a place artistically where I could do the things I really wanted to do. I started doing much more high-end, international assignments as opposed to the local stuff I was doing before. The international client base allows me more creative influence over the work I produce and provides good fertile ground for my creativity to blossom.”
The clients Brandt sought didn't look for photographers based on experience with shooting specific subjects. These international clients were more inclined to focus on the way the photographer examined his or her subjects, and whether or not they had a conceptual eye.
Says Brandt, “International clients are more open, which is great for me because I love challenges and I love doing things that I've never done before. That's what helps me grow as a photographer.”
If you ask Brandt about his current level of success, he'll tell you it comes from his diversity—styling his work after filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick, who was once a photographer himself, and Orson Welles, drawing inspiration from creatives who received critical acclaim for their ability to move seamlessly in multiple genres.
“Welles and Kubrick have a strong visual style that I respond to,” says Brandt. “I try to achieve a theatrical quality in all of my work.”
Those theatrical aspirations might explain why Brandt's latest work has a distinct, surreal look. He employs multiple techniques—camera placement, acrobatics and digital work—to achieve his 2001: A Space Odyssey-like, zero-gravity effects.
Naturally, Brandt prefers the creativity much more than the business aspects of professional photography. At the same time, he certainly likes to be paid to make the art that he loves.
“If my clients knew how much I enjoyed doing what I do, they might not feel right about paying me,” he quips. “Every time I get frustrated in this business, I always have to tell myself that I'm lucky. Because deep down, I know I'd do it all for free.”
To see more of David Allan Brandt's photography, visit www.davidallanbrandt.com.
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