#1 Please introduce yourself
I was born in the U.S. in North Carolina, but left that state after university to pursue a career in the arts. I lived and worked in New York City for 12 years and then moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I currently reside.
#2 How did you get interested in photography?
At university, I studied studio art and art history – mainly painting, sculpture, and architecture. It became obvious to me early on that I was not going to be the next great American sculptor or painter, but I continued to look for a creative medium that I could understand more completely. After university I took some photography classes and all my training in the arts suddenly made sense to me. It seemed that photography offered a more unique opportunity: the ability to make a living commercially, while, at the same time, pursuing fine-art applications.
#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background?
Other than my university studies, I did a resident program at The Maine Photographic Workshops and later spent a summer at The Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Santa Fe gave me my first exposure to world-class photographers. The inspiration derived from this experience motivated me to move to New York City in pursuit of additional knowledge and opportunity. After working as a freelance photo assistant for many different professional photographers, I started my own career in the city around 1996.
#4 Which artist/photographer inspired your work?
I think that early in my career I responded to the freedom I saw in the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Josef Koudelka. They traveled the world creating compelling images with what the street offered them. Their unique vision allowed them to see art in the confusion of everyday life. I really admired that. Of course, I chose not to become a photojournalist like either of them, but their work inspired me to pursue photography nonetheless.
#5 Your work encompasses a range of things from portraits to advertising – is there a genre you prefer working in most?
I think for me portraits have always been the most compelling genre in photography. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of finding a meaningful moment of visual connection to my subjects. To increase that challenge, I’ve moved away from human subjects lately and focused almost exclusively on animals the last few years – as either fine-art work or commercial assignment.
#6 Do you find that you approach a project differently if it’s shot on location rather than in a studio environment?
Not any longer. Of course, location work often involves more advance planning and equipment, but lately I’ve been effectively setting up a “studio” wherever I go: at a zoo or wildlife sanctuary, for example.
#7 How would you describe the market for commercial photography?
The photography market is constantly changing and I’ve seen a lot of downward pressure on pricing and rights control. Thousands and thousands of untrained amateurs are attempting to enter the professional marketplace. This fact, along with an overall devaluing of photography as both an art and commercial form, have made it a difficult time for commercial photographers. That being said, there are still opportunities for those people willing to work hard, and those willing to search for more creative avenues into the business.
#8 Could you please tell us something about your technique and creating process?
I use medium format digital equipment exclusively: a Hasselblad H1 camera system and a PhaseOne P65+ digital back. Post processing runs first through CaptureOne and then Photoshop. Most of my printing lately has been large format art prints (either 30”x44” or 40”x60”) which are produced on the Epson 9600.
#9 What do you do in your life besides photography?
Photography has been my fulltime profession for the last 25 years and occupies much of my time – whether I’m working commercially or in a fine-art capacity. However, I enjoy all the outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and skiing that Santa Fe has to offer.
#10 What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
My first fine-art book, “Wild Life”, is being published this September (2014) by Prestel. (The German language edition, “Tiere Vor Der Kamera”, was just released in April). The book project has been a primary and rewarding focus for some time. If all goes well, I’d like to follow up with additional books in the same genre.
Brad Wilson portfolio: