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Meet Braden Summers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Braden Summers.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I studied photography at the Academy of Art University and graduated with a BFA in 2008. By the time of graduation, I was living in Los Angeles, photographing nationwide campaigns and looking for an agent when, all of a sudden, the financial crisis hit. I left LA the following year to seek assisting opportunities in New York City. I found that in that difficult period, photographers were not keen to bring on new talent to their crew for the limited jobs that were available. I spent the next 3-4 years creating personal work, refining my style and building up my portfolio. Work was slow for most of this time, but I paid the bills with steady work from the Museum of Modern Art’s retail stores, shooting their product photography on white seamless in the basement of their museum. Occasionally, my agent at the time would help me land some commercial campaigns. I felt that if I worked hard enough, those gigs would come more and more frequently.

My inability to gain real momentum in the advertising ‘epicenter’ of NYC inspired me to move abroad to Paris and further expand my portfolio. Paris inspired romance for me and my work, which led to the beginnings of a series of images featuring same sex couples called ALL LOVE IS EQUAL. This series debuted on Valentine’s Day, 2014 on both Buzzfeed and The Advocate’s website and immediately went viral. The project attracted the attention of Marriott International, who hired me to shoot a similar campaign featuring romance, acceptance and diversity for the Marriott brand. I currently live in Los Angeles, and recently shot the award-winning “What Blows Your Mind?” campaign for the Natural History Museums of L.A. County and just got back from shooting for Nespresso.

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?
My career has been far from a smooth road. When I was in my early twenties, I had this vision that my career would start on an unpaved rocky road and gradually see the path smooth out over time. In reality, I have spent most of my professional career on that same rocky road and every once in a while I would encounter small swathes of smooth paved. The truth is there is much more to being a successful artist than the work you have to show – most of success comes from marketing, visibility, and being an incredible networker. I am blessed to have been a part of groundbreaking projects that have the power to create social change, but I constantly have to push to leverage those successes to bring about consistent work.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a commercial photographer and director specializing in portraiture with a colorful bent. To date I have photographed campaigns for Target, The Board of French Tourism, Walmart, The Natural History Museum of LA, MoMA in NYC, Marriott International, PepsiCo, Nespresso, several pharmaceutical campaigns, many non-profits and celebrity editorials. I am most known for creating work that addresses complex issues in an appealing, engaging way; with bold color, fashion and in many cases through motion and sound.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I hope to continue collaborating with brands to elevate their messaging with my film and photography. The best assignments for me are the projects that infuse positive social messaging alongside a brand’s commercial agenda – utilizing their finances and platform to promote themselves while working towards bettering the world.

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