Braxton Bruce

Braxton Bruce

Advertising Photography

Product Photography For Weapon Agency

Sometime last year I was hired to shoot some product images for a local agency called "Weapon."  I just visited their website and found the images there, having been published, so now it's time to share.  Here are the photos:

On this one, I shot the product as well as painting and designing the background and special effects.  

On this one, I shot the shoe and cut it out, and the designers at the agency added the red powder effects.


I really enjoy shooting when the client wants strong images and understand that it takes time.  Including setup and take down, I used 3 hours of studio time just to shoot these.  In the grand scheme of things, that doesn't sound like much time, but when many clients want images like this in 15 minutes, it was nice to take some time and really try to get it right.  


I did another shoot yesterday out in the snow and wind, which I will share soon.  We shot all day at two locations, and moved at a really fast pace.  I strangely felt at home with it.  I realized that was because that's how I shoot my personal work.  So I recommend, in your personal shoots, taking time to experiment and really nail down the look you want to achieve, and then repeat it on more shoots at a faster pace.  Try to get the shot out as quickly as you can.  If you haven't done much commercial work, you may not be aware of how fast crews are moving on those things, and it might be a shock.  If you already shoot 100mph, it won't throw you off your game when you're on a shoot for a client who does shoots frequently, and needs to keep their costs down.


I loved that shoot and I'm excited to show some of the images from it once they're ready.  I'm also happy to be warm and indoors.

Cinemagraphs Are For Cool Kids

So on my lunchbreak today I decided to figure out this cinemagraph thing.  I've watched tutorials on it, but never endeavored to make my own.  So here is my first Cinemagraph:

This is from a camera test I did with the Red Scarlet when I used it for the first time.  Thanks for your help, Eli.

I've thought for a long time it would be fun to intentionally shoot for one of these.  I think it's something I'll do promotionally when I do video shoots to market myself, because it's fun and unique, and it stretches my brain trying to get it to obey.

Anyway, short post today, thanks for stopping by!



Cumberland Farms and Full Contact Advertising

During July and August of 2014, Cumberland Farms, a convenience store chain on the East Coast, ran an ad in their stores using one of my table tennis photos (with permission and license).  The agency responsible for the design is Full Contact Advertising.  Here's the ad:

I really love that photo, so I also love that it got used, and I think it's funny what they did there.  It never ceases to give me great satisfaction to see my work on a billboard, or on a sign, or on packaging, etc.  


There are some really exciting things coming down the pipeline, and by coming down the pipeline I mean I'm causing them to go down the pipeline.  Here are a few of them in vague generalities to protect my relationships:


  • Negotiating a long-term relationship with a large company who values my work.
  • Doing a shoot for an outdoorsman supply company next week
  • Doing a video shoot with some hip hop/break dancers next weekend
  • Collaborating with a designer to produce an image and ad worthy of entering in Communication Arts by March 13
  • Putting together ad collateral necessary to finalize my ad agency website
  • Retouching for a national shoe retailer this week
  • Preparing a fundraising pitch video for shooting a documentary in Africa
  • (unrelated to photography, but still) I got my ham radio license this week!
  • Illustrating a fantasy novel
  • Planning a commercial video shoot based on narration from a classic novel for my portfolio
  • And finally, planning a kickboxing shoot for my portfolio
  • All of this, of course, is additional to my full-time product photography job


Why so much portfolio work?  Well because I want to get better, of course.  Also, it's fun.  Also, I have new gear that I've never had before, so an update is in order.  I'm excited to have new work to show, and to learn new things, and to have these new business relationships.  

Having Breadth In My Photography


Back in my table tennis days, on the way back from a tournament we had played, I was discussing with my friend Helen my interest in and outlook on the sport.  I told her that for me it was about the mastery of the process of getting good at things, and that ping pong was just one of many skills I intended to pursue throughout my life.  She disagreed with my approach, saying that it is better to work on one thing your entire life to learn all the lessons that thing has to offer. While I don't believe she is wrong about the lessons available in a dedicated lifelong pursuit, my interest lies, and always has, with taking the lessons I learned from table tennis, and chess, and music, and all the other hobbies I've pursued, and applying those lessons together to enhance the total of my experience.  And this is the approach I have taken with growing as an artist and photographer.  



People often note that the quality of my work seems to have outpaced the term of my experience.  If this is so, it's because of the time I spent and the lessons I learned from all the other creative endeavors I have explored.  It's because long before I picked up a camera, I was drawing and painting and making myself a student of art fundamentals.  It's because of visits to museums and private lessons and formal education.  I understood light before I ever lit a photograph.  I would argue that even my time at the ping pong table has contributed to my understanding of principles that now contribute to the improvement of my photography.



Within photography, I have worked hard to learn each and every style I've been aware of, and be able to reproduce it.  I have shot fine art portraits.  Editorial portraits.  Fashion.  Beauty.  I have shot food.  I have shot still life and product and sports and weddings, etc.  Every genre, and I have done it until I was proficient.  And all that effort has resulted in the work that I make now.  I understand how to create the softness of fine art and pictorialism.  I understand the intensity and emotion of sports editorial.  I can reproduce the surreal illustrative look of advertising campaigns.  I layer my images like a landscape photographer.  I have the eye for subtle lighting differences of a product photographer.  So why don't I have more varied work on my website?



As a freelancer among hundreds of thousands of other freelancers in the same market, it is important to choose an audience, find a niche you want to work in, and sell to that audience.  That way, when a creative director is looking for high-end lifestyle images to advertise a product, they aren't turned away by wedding photos and food photography.  People don't have time to sift.  They need to know what they are getting right away and feel confident about it.  So my website is rather cohesive, following a certain look which I have chosen for my audience.  And the results have proven this a good approach.



As a producer of creative work, it is difficult and even a bit heartbreaking to hide a portion of your work from the world.  I'm proud of a lot of work I have produced which never gets seen.  But, as a creative who has also selected creativity as their sole pursuit of livelihood, it becomes necessary to enlist some sense and strategy to your presentation, to get the kind of work that will keep you out of a spreadsheet-making, email-sending, meeting attending analyst job (what I used to do).  And, while I do have to send emails frequently :D I want to do whatever I can to be successful as an artist.  I want to keep making art daily.  I want to keep exploring and progressing at whatever pace I can maintain.  And this is how it's done.  Here are a few other examples of work you may not be aware that I have done:





All of those things have contributed to my ability to make the work that accumulates all of those skills into what I consider the most rewarding kind of work, which is the work I have chosen to display on my website:



Thanks for stopping by.



Shooting For Stills With Natural Light On The Red Scarlet-x

Yesterday, I received the results from a contest I entered called the Digital Photo Pro Emerging Pro Photo Contest.  And the results were good.  This is a contest for students and professionals with less than 5 years of professional experience, which I have.  It's free to enter, and this wasn't my first year trying.  But this time, they accepted my initial entry as a finalist, which was this:

I shot this back in college for a class assignment.

There were 9 finalists in total, in three categories: Fashion, Fine Art and Sport.  They sent each of the 9 finalists a Red Scarlet-X Red Dragon Lightweight Collection and tasked us with shooting a series of 5 images in the same category we entered initially, using only the Red Scarlet.  I've never shot with one of those, and have only some basic training and experience with DSLR video, so that was both exciting and intimidating.  The Red doesn't shoot stills.  So I was supposed to shoot video with stills in mind, and then grab frames out of the video later for retouching.  


My first shoot was a little rocky.  I wasn't familiar with the camera enough to know how to zoom in on the display to check focus, and balancing framerate and resolution with the other settings was a little confusing.  Fortunately I got several good shots I could use, and after retouching I had the confidence I needed to go into the next shoot.  We had only one month to prepare our series, and I decided I would wow the judges by sending 5 images, each from a different shoot, rather than 5 images from a single shoot which I was certain everyone else would do.  Besides, I have a Red Scarlet for a month.  I have to get as much footage as humanly possible before I have to return it!  All of the shoots were very challenging, particularly the rock climbing and running shoots, which were shot within 24 hours of each other in weather and temperatures around 40 degrees or less.


While I was at it, I shot a good deal of 60fps video footage of each athlete with the intent to make a video project for self promotion when all was finished.  That project is in the works, currently waiting on a song I've commissioned for the background music.  I'm very excited to have something better than a quinceanera shot on a Canon t3i in my video portfolio.  :P  What a step up this is.


So the final result was--I won.  The judges selected my entry, and here it is:




For a project shot in a very short time, with no budget whatsoever, no lighting, on a camera I was unfamiliar with, and in sometimes unpleasant weather, I am very pleased with how these images turned out.  In fact, I think several of them are consistent in quality with my normal work.  I had an incredibly good time doing this, and can't wait to do more work like it.  


So what did I win?  The prizes for this contest are as follows:


The very kit I shot these images on.  A Red Scarlet-x Red Dragon Lightweight Collection, which normally costs around $25,000.  Here's the other prize:


A $2000 printer from Epson.


So I'm now equipped to do more creative things.  I'm equipped with the knowledge of how to use the tools.  I'm equipped with a video reel with which to get work.  If you are a photographer, I highly recommend having contests as a staple of your business.  It pushes you to put your work out there.  It pushes you to make better work.  It can be a source of new gear and opportunities.  And, like this contest, your work will be published in magazines, which creates buzz around what you do.  As soon as I have my new gear, and as soon as I find out about some other cool things I have in the works, I'll be pushing my work to new levels and trying new things, and I'll certainly post it right here as it comes.


Thanks to everyone who helped me with this project, many on very short notice, at significant discomfort or inconvenience.  This is really game-changing for me.  Thanks.

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