Captivity © Brian Day
Based in Detroit, MI, USA, Brian Day gravitates toward urban, conceptual, and landscape themes. Inspired by masters of landscape, street, and conceptual work, Brian starts his adventure into photography 3 years ago and evolved quite dramatically in a unique black and white style featuring visual scenes with as few subjects as possible. Brian’s legendary talent explores new opportunities for black-and-white imagery guiding the viewer’s eyes trough lights, contrasts and visually stunning compositions.
We have the privilege to feature today Brian and interview him about the secrets behind his stunning black-and-white imagery and to share it with you, photography lovers.
Tell us about something about Brian Day Photography?
So, I’ve been seriously focusing on my photography for about 3 years now. Before that, I may or may not have had a camera on occasion, and never did more than shoot the tourist’s snapshot on full auto settings. I was encouraged to purchase a DSLR by a coworker, and he was gracious enough to take me out around the city and show me some of the lesser known areas that were worth photographing. Eventually, I began to venture out on my own, while also taking a great interest in learning the fundamentals of photography, and studying the masters of landscape, street, and conceptual work. I believe my work has evolved quite dramatically over the past 3 years, but I consider that I am still a student of photography. I suppose the primary characteristics of my photos are that they are generally in black and white, and usually prefer to feature as few subjects as possible. I like the idea of being able to relate somehow to the subject in the photo and thus many of my photos may have only a single subject. However, I do work to construct a visual narrative wherever possible. This style may or may not be compatible with what is accepted in the mainstream – on the other hand, it may be considered by some to be cliche. I don’t know, and don’t really care. I shoot what connects with me. If people like it, that’s icing on the cake.
What’s your creative process like?
I enjoy photographic moments that inspire some sort of narrative thought or emotion. I prefer to minimize the number of subjects in a frame, use geometry to create visual impact, and find elements spark introspection, either in me or in others. I believe that black and white photography requires a strong emphasis on mood, composition and subject, as color is not present to stimulate the senses. I realize that in some circles it seems counterproductive to work in black and white, given the tremendous advances in digital photographic equipment and software, and considering the fact that our world is often quite literally drenched in attention grabbing, colorful elements. But, the monochromatic vibe just appeals to me.
Where do you find inspiration and why you like photography?
I find inspiration everywhere. A wide variety of art, literature, music inspires me. The daily grind of life, the struggles and triumphs of the city, the changes of seasons; I enjoy trying to capture some of those moods and feelings in a photograph, even if the subject matter is completely unrelated. Fellow and legendary photographers inspire me on a daily basis, but I’m also a regular visitor to local museums and theaters, and enjoy walking around the city quite a bit – just taking it all in.
What are some tips you could give to people that really like your work?
Hmm, that’s a tough question for me. I guess one of the most important thing I’ve learned is to shoot often and forget about categories and genres. It’s easy to get caught up trying to classify oneself as a “street” or “landscape” photographer, constantly trying to fit one’s work into these buckets, or gain acceptance into certain circles. But I believe that approach hampers a persons’ creativity. Of course it’s only my opinion, but it seems to me that a photographer should feel reasonably uninhibited to shoot whatever interests him and let the course of history and critics “organize” the work. I always appreciate Garry Winogrand’s answer to the question of whether he called himself a “street photographer.” He preferred to identify himself as simply a photographer. Obviously, for professional photographers whose livelihood depends on perfecting a body of work in a specific category, one probably needs a more structured mindset. But for guys like me who are really just shooting for fun, why not just let the chips fall where they may? As long as I have that privilege, I’ll probably just refer to myself as a student of photography; that way people don’t have to take me too seriously.
Can you name some great photographer that inspires you and why?
There are so many photographers who inspire me. Foremost among them is Ansel Adams, and it’s not so much because of his subject matter, but because of his meticulous craftsmanship throughout the photographic process. Obviously, Cartier-Bresson’s photojournalistic style, Andre Kertesz, Steve McCurry, Elliot Erwitt, Vivian Maier, Gordon Parks, Bill Rauhauser, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, anyone with the last name Capa, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Matt Stuart, David Gibson, just to name a few. There are also many photographers in the online community that I greatly admire. The list is ever growing and pretty much all over the map.
What can you tell us about your workshops?
I’ve conducted a few workshops as a guest. It’s great to share knowledge. Especially in the online community, sometimes experienced photographers choose not to be collaborative, and in some cases even counterproductive to new ones starting out. I don’t know if it’s a fear of being imitated or popularity concerns, but it’s certainly refreshing that the majority of the photographers that I’ve had the opportunity to meet or chat with have offered constructive insights, educated opinions, and even technical wisdom. I feel obligated to do the same wherever possible with the knowledge that I’ve picked up along the way.