Interviewing studio owner – the latest in the long line of interviews. After a couple of recent photographer interviews, like Fez Photography, Chris Miralles, Ian Bracegirdle and Adriaan Du Toit. The timing only seemed right to look at another area of photography but essential – the studio owner.
Many friends and fellow photographers have worked with Brian of Studio 2212 in the past. Everyone who seems to meet him is very responsive and inform you he is a great person to work with. After networking on Facebook groups, we finally found time for a chat.
Brian stood out due to his approach, his experience and character, he’s a hard-working guy. So without further ado, let the interview commence.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where you grew up, what was life-like (bear in mind viewers could be from a different country)
Life was growing up in a working-class family in Lincoln, footy at the weekends, paper rounds and homework in the evenings. It’s beyond me why Facebook is filled with If “You Remember These Then you Lived In The Good Old Days”, there was very little good about them in my recollection, apart from friends. Left school, played in a band or two and eventually followed in the family tradition and qualified as a chef, then realised I hated working shifts, and unsociable hours, so became a career Civil Servant (almost).
Tell us about the people who have influenced you in life and your career.
I don’t think I could name one person that has really influenced my life, it’s meandered pretty erratically through the years. And there’s no one photographer that has really influenced me, I like a lot of people’s work, some of the big names, some smaller names, but none have influenced my work, inspired perhaps, but not influenced, consciously at least. If anything, possibly some relatively local photographers have had more influence. But again, I’m not sure.
What is your earliest memory of photography?
I bought a Box Brownie at a jumble sale when I was about 8 o0r 9, I took some pretty crappy pictures of some ducks (which I still have somewhere), but it was enough to start a lifelong passion.
Bryan, we know you own a local studio, how did this happen?
In typical me fashion, it wasn’t something I had planned. I was in a job I hated and got offered a reasonable package, which I jumped at. After a couple of years, chilling, kicking back and visiting places I had always wanted to, I thought I had better do something before the money ran out. Not wanting to go back to the 9-5 routine I wanted to do something different. The only thing I knew how to do with anything near competence was photography, so I opened my first studio.
What was one of the most rewarding shots you remember and why?
From a satisfaction point of view, it was an image of lions mating in a national park in Kenya. Not my best shot technically, but it was a right place, right time shot. It was the last night of a safari through the Tsavo National Park, the light was fading and whilst I had taken a shed load of images, I hadn’t taken one that gripped me. That one sealed the holiday for me. From a monetary point of view, the most rewarding is an image of a wooden fish. I’ve sold lots of copies of that in varying forms. Go figure.
Do you have a favourite model?
Yes, but it would be totally unprofessional of me to name them.
What was the wackiest session you have been involved in? Either the strangest or funniest thing in your studio.
Some of the charity shoots I’ve hosted at the studio have been stupidly manic, but perhaps the oddest session I’ve been a part of was for a charity calendar, where a number of large blokes got their kit off and tried to recreate some iconic images. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much. Great bunch of blokes, doing their bit for a great cause. But never seen as much flesh in one go in my life.
During our discussion you showed me your Olympus film camera, how did this happen?
I just picked it up and showed you. I’m sure there is a biological or physics-based explanation about which muscles were used and how I managed to pivot my arm, send messages to my fingers to wrap around the camera etc, but science never was my forte. Other than that, I don’t know what you need to know? My first SLR was a Olympus so when a regular at the studio told me they knew somebody selling one, and as I was looking to get back into shooting film, and it was a good price, I thought I’d buy it.
Would you rather shoot with a prime or zoom?
It depends entirely on what I’m shooting, I love primes, but I would never give up my zoom lenses. They all have their uses.
What is your favourite type of photography?
That’s a biggie, perhaps I should be saying portraiture/model photography as that’s the area in which I work, but I love shooting motor sports, aeroplanes, wildlife. Basically whatever I’m shooting at that particular time is my favourite type of photography. If you can’t invest everything in what you are shooting at any given time, then surely you’re not going to get the best shots you can?
You have mentioned you sometimes shoot as a 2nd photographer. How do u find this compared to your portraiture work?
Totally different. In the studio, I’m in complete control, I can manage the lighting (more readily), I can re-take if I screw up, and once I’ve got the shot I want, I can call it a day. Being a second photographer was the exact opposite, takes me right out of my comfort zone, but a great (and necessary) challenge.
The random questions
When you were a child, what job did you want to go into?
Name one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses
I like people.
I detest people.
How many ties do you own?
More than I would ever need now.
Can you explain slippers?
No, I don’t think I can.
Shakespeare or “shakin stevens”?
As a music fan, and (poor) musician, I could never really put Shakin Stevens above anything could I, apart from stepping in warm dog turd?
You find Aladdin’s magic lamp, what are your 3 wishes?
I would only have one, that I would wake up from a stupid dream, as I don’t believe in miracles.
You have to share “a punch”, “a pint” or “a present” with the following (and explain why):
Malcolm X – Pint, just so that I could listen to what he had to say.
Amy Johnson – Pint, the story she could tell.
Steve Hawking – Pint, just to be in the presence of a genius.
If bats are blind but can fly, should we trust blind pilots?
Only if it was a Bat, Man.
You have just turned 40, you get a letter from your doctor about checkups due to the risk of your age group. Do you:
Burn it as quickly as possible
Book an appointment
Start googling issues with 40-year-olds
I really can’t remember.
If you could meet your future self, what would you ask?
If you tell me where I go wrong in the future, so I change it, would you still be here?
Like all interviewees, Brian forwarded some examples of his work and thought it is only fair to give the photographer a chance to talk about their images. It is nice to hear from them and see what they are thinking when they press that button.
“A studio shot with a national model who has appeared on ads (and/or packaging) for Nikon and Babyliss amongst quite a few others. Was happy to get her in the studio. Only took six shots. I was looking for a magazine style image on this shot, but without over smoothing her face.”
“Taken from a viewing tunnel in Tsavo East, National Park, Kenya. The noise of a number of elephants walking above my head will remain with me forever. I just liked the perspective on this one.”
“I’m one of the few people I know that actually liked the Empowerment installation since day one. It’s now grown to be loved and very much photographed. I was looking for a different shot rather than the everyday shot that everyone seems to take.”
“Again working with a national model. I don’t do loads of nude work, but if I do, I generally like to go for a more art nude style, making use of light and shadow to emphasise shape or eliminate any possible sexual content.”
The single most important message you take from Brian’s interview is that he’s hard-working guy. During our chat, he stayed at the studio very late to discuss life, the universe and everything!
You may guess, Brian is not a 20-year-old person, it’s clear from the answers. But with this, he brings many years of experience. He is talented, committed and friendly, opening his studio and life to all. He has been known to help his fellow friends in the industry too, whether it’s 2nd shooting or anything in between!
For me, it’s quick refreshing to interview someone who wasn’t always a photographer or had outside influences. Not everybody went to art college or had this “ability” when they were younger, some of us it has taken many years.
Please check out his work, attend one of the many portrait/models shoots at his studios. He’s active on social media and always looking forward to the next shoot.