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Meet Ariel Brigmann

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ariel Brigmann.

Ariel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I was maybe six years old, my parents presented me with a pink, plastic film camera. I was ecstatic. I took pictures of my family, my neighbors, stuffed animals and anything my little heart never wanted to forget. They would gift me with two more cameras as the years passed. Strangely, I never saw myself becoming a photographer and only recently did I realize that becoming involved in the photographic world was inevitable. I was a competitive dancer for 14 years, had dreams of becoming an astronaut, scientist or even a motivational speaker, but a photographer? Not really.

When I was 17 and at the very end of my junior year of high school, my life changed. My parents and I had always known there was something “wrong”, but the doctors could never pinpoint it. It was in 2013 that I was finally given a name to the symptoms I had been facing my entire life. I had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. My life seemingly turned upside down, yet was the biggest blessing, in disguise, to ever come my way. Without dance, I had to rely on other areas of art and after dabbling with 3D design, illustrations and painting, I settled on the piece of my life that had never left photography. I took as many classes as my community college allowed and also fell deeply in love with the capabilities of Photoshop. From there, I applied to different schools and chose Art Center College of Design, where I studied for two years and am now a very proud alumni of.

Now I specialize in professional photo retouching and color correction with companies like Disney, Toyota, Microsoft, Browning, First Republic Bank, Viking Cruises and Skechers. I currently work full time as an Image Production Tech for Nordstrom.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
While I can’t say my life in general has been a smooth road, my journey in photography has been seemingly better paved! There were a few hiccups, but I have a favorite one. About two weeks into my first term at Art Center a professor called my photos trash, so I returned the following week with photos of actual trash for my assignment. This professor ended up being my absolute favorite and I think I took every single class he had to offer during my time there.

I believe I am particularly fortunate. Do I work really hard? Absolutely, but I also recognize that I have been very blessed to be in the right place at the right time. I was very fortunate to have a professor in community college ask me to assist him in editing photos for Princess Cruises; my first paid editing job! I was able to choose between Cal Arts and Art Center for my education. My first job post-college was an offhand recommendation by a professor that turned into the best opportunity and work experience. Lastly, I was recruited for my current job, which I am head over heels for. I fully understand that some of this was luck, but a lot of it was also constantly pursuing growth, failing a bit here and there, and staying positive. I don’t believe any journey is ever completely trouble-free, but either way I am very happy to be where I am now.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I would say I am known for two very different skill sets.

First, I have been a professional photo retoucher/color editor for about two years now. In those two years, I have been able to work with/for a long list of clients in various industries such as food, entertainment, transportation, travel, beauty, etc. It has truly been a dream. I am proud to say that at only 24 years old, I have held my own in this industry. I believe I owe this to my willingness to keep training myself and taking on any request, as crazy as they may be at times. Unfortunately, I cannot talk in too much detail about some of the projects I have worked on, but hopefully the list of companies I have worked for speaks for itself.

On the side, I still work as a freelance photographer. I was hesitant to make photography itself my main job because I didn’t want to burn myself out. It is incredibly freeing to work on my own terms and invest myself in projects I truly care about. I photograph a lot on my own nowadays and sell prints on Society6 as a nice side hustle. I think that keeping my photography as my own really has set me apart. There’s no pressure to conform. My photography is often not set up and simply taken in the moment. I’ve been told that I “just got lucky” with a lot of my images, but I don’t agree. There’s a dreamy picture I took of some horses running alongside my car while driving through Colorado. Luck? Maybe, but what if I hadn’t been there? What if I hadn’t already loaded film into my camera & kept it in my lap? Stopped to eat? Fell asleep? Aimlessly scrolled through my phone? Not known my manual camera inside and out? Had taken the shot a second later when the horses field came to an end? I have always believed that some of us were meant to see certain scenes. It has never been about “getting lucky”. For me, it has always been about looking for the opportunity for luck, recognizing its beauty and then absolutely nailing it.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I get all giddy inside just thinking about the future. Someday I hope to become a professor and teach. I want to give another student all of the wonderful photo knowledge and life lessons that I was given. I look forward to that day immensely. In the meantime, I am just going to keep pushing forward, learning as much as I possibly can and as always, carry my camera right by my side every twist and turn of the way.

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Image Credit:
Ariel Brigmann

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