“Photography is a medium that allows me to act as quickly as my mind works. It helps me refrain from restlessness.”
Photographer, historian and natural light addict.
Brandon Scales, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
On what was seemingly an average day shooting on Hollywood Blvd., I decided to take a break from shooting and cool off. I walked up the stairs into the Hollywood and Highland center mall. Though my camera never left my hand, it was exposed for sunlight that I was no longer in. I turned to proceed up the final set of stairs to the roof when a small girl came running around the corner and stopped at the top of the stairs. She was waiting. I watched the photo unfold in front of me as her body posture changed as the seconds went by. I studied her large showy hat. The way her hand laid on the rail, and how the harsh backlight created a strong contrast and long shadow across the wall of the building. I raised my camera to my eye and fired off three or four frames. The scene was over. Her parents came around the corner, they walked down the stairs and I tried to catch my breath. It all happened in roughly three seconds.
Why did you become a photographer?
I’ve been making pictures since I was a child. I started taking photography seriously when my high school English teacher took it upon himself to further my photographic knowledge in what I believe was an effort to get me to express myself while hopefully paying attention in school. It was only mildly successful.
What does photography mean to you and what do you want to transmit with your pictures?
Photography is a medium that allows me to act as quickly as my mind works. It helps me refrain from restlessness. I was a painter for many years with limited success, when I found photography I was allowed to grow more rapidly. The medium itself portrays honesty. There is a little leeway for creative interpretation but for the most part the truth cannot be altered. I am just there to decide what truths might be worth recording and to push the shutter button.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
I would say there are many people who are outside of photography that have been the biggest inspirations. However, there are a few photographers whom I feel I have learned a great deal from. Garry Winogrand is on the top of the list. While I don’t share many of his views or practices, his point of view about the medium and action of documentary photography forces me to gain insight through exploration of a mindset I wouldn’t normally be in. I call him the mad scientist of street photography. I admire is passion and honesty and he sure is funny.
Documentary on Garry Winogrand
“There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described I like to think of photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium, by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject, by describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both.”
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“The tool is in the head, not in the hands.”
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
I could describe it in so many ways. There are so many different characteristics and processes that make up the entire act of being a photographer. Each with its own rewards and frustrations. On the whole, mine would be honest, hand-made, technical, rewarding and done with extreme purpose.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
A true understanding of yourself. It’s a much larger task than one might imagine.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
My work hinges on story telling. The tools and techniques used to create the images are tailored to what I feel can more accurately tell the story in the way I see fit.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
Patience and dedication. We are trying to capture lightning in a bottle. Then we have to be sure it’s properly framed, exposed, and visually stimulating. It’s a much more labor intensive job than most people realize.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
It has to tell me a story. Something that will capture and hold my attention. What makes a great image visually is up to the viewer. I like a photo to include technical details that elaborate on the happenings in the scene be that movement, specific lighting, etc. Every element should have specific reason for being that way it is.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I enjoy learning and exploring, and I am always sure to be with my camera. When I find interest in something I tend to fixate on it to the point of ultimate understanding or as close as I can get. Photography is my sketch book full of notes along the way.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
That depends entirely on the project. For the most part I tend to use smaller equipment and prefer to work using available light. I work primarily using 35mm black and white film. I do everything by hand from rolling film to development to printing. Film also has better archival qualities. I consider my work to be historical documentation so archiving my work is very important.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I don’t have a favorite website in particular. I don’t visit anything regularly, it usually starts with Google searches about a question I may have. This leads me all over the web. I take a lot of screen shots because I normally have so many tabs open in my browser I get lost.
What photography book would you recommend?
Right now I am reading “Bystander: The History of Street Photography” by Colin Westerbeck and Joel Meyerowitz. I like it because it allows me to understand the mindset of other photographers through examples of work and historical background. It forces me to question my own logic and I think that’s the most important step to personal growth. In either case, I can’t stress enough how important photo books are. Do yourself a favor and become a member at your local library. Your work will progress by leaps and bounds. Next time you feel the need to buy a new piece of photo gear consider buying a photo book instead. This will up the value of your art collection, allow for possible exploration and growth in your work and it supports the original artist. It keeps the movement going.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Believe in yourself. Find your niche and stick with it. You don’t need to be someone who can do a little of everything. Find what you love and concentrate on perfecting that.