Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandon Dowling.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Brandon. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there
Before I moved to LA I was living and going to school in my home state of Florida at Valencia CC and then UCF. I had always planned to work in the film industry and kinda ended up getting pigeon holed into reality TV since it was plentiful and taking off around the time I graduated. Through a series of random connections I ended up traveling the country on So You Think You Can Dance & America’s Got Talent as a PA (production assistant). So I ended up moving out here almost ten years ago and immediately fell in love with the culture, nature, and limitless opportunities for creativity and connection. By the fall of that year I got my break as a camera assistant on a show for National Geographic filming in Montana, and later went on to work on all sorts of reality based shows in California.
It was fun for a while but eventually the grind of the industry really caught up with me. The 12+ hour days, the negativity, the stress, and the lack of artistic gratification eventually had me looking for an alternative. Through my local church I met rock and roll photographer Koury Angelo and we were quick friends. While I was working on tv programs I’d simultaneously be assisting him for fun and I quickly realized where my passion really lied. Having played in a band and shooting shows in my angsty teen years I immediately had this renewed excitement for what could be. I had always taken photos on set as a hobby and enjoyed documenting nature but I never realized the gravitas of the photo world here in LA. It was through Koury and other gracious creatives that I decided to make the jump to full time photo assistant, which is where I land today.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I wouldn’t consider any career in the arts or as a freelancer a naturally smooth road. Just gaining the confidence to truly evaluate what makes you happy as opposed to doing what’s convenient or what pays the bills really took me years to figure out. Everyone would tell me how cool of a job I had in television or that starting over in a different field would be too much of an upheaval. The beauty of LA is that people come out here to chase dreams; so many of us are already sacrificing “stable” jobs and taking risks to do something that truly feeds your soul. Like in most artistic fields, competition is stiff and as a photo assist you have to (in the words of the late Justin Smith) Be Necessary. Skills and prowess are important but just a much so is just being a great person to be around and really respecting everyone’s story and what we’re trying to accomplish together. We battle dry spells, jobs falling through, unreasonable people, and the struggle of just not feeling good enough. Its important to know your self worth and that many variables are out of our hands. Surrounding yourself with a great community of people doing life together is excellent armor for overcoming those challenges.
Please tell us about your work.
I work full time as a photo assistant for several photographers on everything imaginable from editorial, music, fashion and AD’s. I’ve started shooting more myself in recent years and as a passion I shoot churches & birds and I focus on travel lifestyle as the blueprint for my future in photography. I love getting to be a part of a team that creates something beautiful and tangible and often I’ll get to see it on billboards just driving around Los Angeles. The wonderful thing about photography is that whatever your interests are, theres a opportunity and a niche for you to explore.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My entire career arc and the motivation to even come to the West Coast was predicated by so many individuals that helped me along the way. When I first started out, audio mixer Dan McCoy was my advocate on the early tv shows and helped to convince me to give Los Angeles a chance. Koury Angelo was instrumental in me making the decision to take up photography as a career. Every photographer that I’ve worked for and every assistant that’s recommended me for a job has helped to move the needle in my career. My parents have always been incredibly supportive of my escapades, and I’m blessed to have a wonderful community of friends and a church that definitely is in my corner every step of the way in the growing process.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @BaruchGoldberg
Adam Bartlett, Koury Angelo