Brandon Whitley

When did you start taking photos? How did it begin?

The first memory I have of my love and connection to taking photos comes from a family vacation in Hawaii when I was 10. My dad was video recording and taking photos of everything and I remember telling him I wanted to take the pictures, and he let me. I didn’t begin to actually take photography seriously until about a year ago when I bought my first “real” camera.

How much time do you spend taking photos? Is this your job or a hobby?

I spend just about every weekend hiking and/or camping, which is where most of my work stems from. I like to look at photography as a 2nd job that I don’t get paid to do. I have a “normal 9-5”, but photography is my 5-1. I treat it like a job because I plan for it to be in the future. If I’m not taking photos I’m editing photos or researching other photographers work to learn and gain inspiration from.

What do you want your viewers to take away from your work?

Probably something that nobody takes away from my work, haha. When I look at my work it reminds me that anything is possible. You can do anything you want to do in life if you put in the work and learn how to. Just a year ago my photos looked like an 8 year old took them, I had no idea what I was doing. But, I wanted to learn, and I wanted to be able to take the kinds of photos I saw other people taking. So I worked on it. I studied, I practiced, I studied more, and I practiced more. I am still studying and practicing. So when I look at my most recent work, that is what I take away, and I wish others could see that too. I have come so far in 1 year. So to me, my work is a visual reminder that anything is possible.

Where do you find your inspiration and how do you keep yourself motivated?

Honestly, Instagram is my biggest source of inspiration. I credit it for my interest and love of photography. Without it I wouldn’t know what is possible to do with a camera. The ability to see the work of so many talented people on a device in our pockets is huge. It really is such an amazing platform and I don’t think many people realize this. I am competitive by nature, so when I see photos from other people that blow me away it really drives me to get out there and create something better. I learn from it and push myself creatively through it.

How would you describe your style and how important is it for you to stick to a specific style?

This is such an important question. Finding or having a “style” is something I think really haunts and hurts photographers just starting out, myself included. It is important to just shoot, and forget about how your photos look or if you have a distinct style. Style emerges from a body of work. Nobody you know now that you can identify as having a specific style began taking photos and said to themselves, “This is going to be my style, this is how I am going to shoot and edit everything”. No, it just came after they took thousands and thousands of photos. And it will probably change a little over time as they continue to take thousands and thousands of more photos. So for me, I am still finding my “style”. There are some constants in my work currently, I mainly shoot outdoors/nature and my edits tend to lean towards a darker tone with muted colors. But, I don’t think I have created a big enough body of work to have found that distinct look that would make people say, “Hey, that’s a Brandon photo for sure.” I try to stay focused on creating a body of work.

Do you take photos more for yourself or for others?

I would say both. First and foremost, the photos I take are for myself. I love impressing myself and making myself proud of the things I have made. But like anyone, when we create or make something we are proud of, we want to show other people. This is another reason why Instagram is so cool. At our fingertips is the ability to share with potentially millions of people the things we have created, and I really enjoy that. Hearing what other people think, especially people I look up to and respect, is important to me.

What’s one of the favorite photos you’ve taken recently? What’s the story?

I would have to say it’s a photo of me drinking coffee in front of a waterfall. The story: I travel a lot, and I usually travel alone. Lately, I have been trying to incorporate people into my photos more, and obviously that is hard to do when no people are with me. So, I have to take a lot of “selfies”. This involves me setting up my tripod and framing a shot, then either setting a timer or taking a timelapse of many photos and running into frame and hoping I am in focus and everything looks good. I come back and check afterwards, and if they didn’t look good I do the whole process over again until it is right. This particular photo turned out perfect on the first try, and it is an amazing photo (if I do say so myself), so because of this I really really like it.

Name a few photographers you get inspiration from.

There are SO many. But a few of my favorites are Dylan Furst, Chris Burkard, Hannes Becker, Samuel Elkins, Allie Taylor, and Jared Chambers.

What’s your photography plan for the future?

As mentioned above, I plan to make photography my full-time job. I have a long-term outlook on making this happen. I have some loose plans on quitting my current job and living out of my car, driving all over the US and seeing everything it has to offer. I also have loose plans of seeking out internships with photographers I admire and look up to so I can learn from them. But honestly, I take life day-to-day. So much can happen and change in such a short period of time, I try to not make plans I intend on sticking to because I never know what will happen tomorrow, what opportunity may present itself. My Northstar is photography as a career, I am indifferent to the route I take to get there.

LocationMemphis, TN, US

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