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Meet Brian Pham of Brainztem in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Pham.

Brian, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
How I started on this journey with my camera… I love looking back on how I started because it’s kind of backward. Growing up, I was always around cameras, as my dad was a director in the Vietnamese community. Although I was around it all my life, I actually hated going with him to his work and never actually used a camera until I decided to pick one up myself during my last year of high school.

This was in 2011 when vlogging was starting to become popular. I would record my friends and I hanging out, exploring beautiful Southern California locations and I would come home and edit the footage over random songs I liked at the time. I thought it was really easy, it came pretty naturally. One of my friends in the circle started to make music and I made my first music video with him shortly after these vlogs and we released the music video on our graduation day!

That is literally how I started using a camera and editing on a program.

How I finally made a name for myself with my camera, started at this internship I had at the Observatory music venue in Orange County. I had gone to a few shows with local acts as I was dabbling more into camera work and realized I loved going to shows as much as I loved to shoot the artists at the shows. I ended up digging and finding the main photographer’s email at the venue, shot her an email that listed and stated why I wanted to take pictures, and what I could do to gain some experience + opportunities.

One of the things I still remember I stated over five years ago was that I was aspiring to inspire the kids in my community to chase their dreams. I grew up in a predominantly Vietnamese community and we have very few people chasing after their true dream even though they is so much talent around. A big part of that is because they haven’t seen someone they relate to actually do it and make it, and another thing is because their family has persuaded them that following their dream isn’t going to get them paid. I experienced that firsthand with my friend’s families, luckily not my own, so I wanted to be that source of inspiration for the next generation to hopefully have the courage to take the route less traveled.

So through my carefully worded email, I got the opportunity to learn and shoot some of the biggest to-be artists in the game. The venue is a mid-sized venue catering to the top tier upcoming artists that are able to pull crowds up to 3000 people. I shot everyone from Jhene Aiko to Travis Scott, all the way to Albert Hammond Jr. I was exposed to so many different genres of music as well as different styles of artists to shoot from. All within a year, I would say I got to master the art of show photography, and while doing so I also did what I feel like most of the other photographers of my time failed to do.

I networked.

I always paid attention to people that are within the artists team, usually trying to find the manager. I would get their contact information and remember to send them pictures and content. Although I wouldn’t ask them to pay me for this content, it opened doors for me to come shoot for their artists again. Sometimes in a more personal setting, sometimes at another concert, or sometimes for a whole different artist that they refer me to. I feel like this was the turning point in my career, learning how to network, as well as having a really hungry mindset with a great work ethic.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I would say it has been a smooth road for me. They say to take the path with least resistance, and I try to take that to heart whenever I analyze a situation pertaining to me. If I feel like the opportunity is not right for me, it usually doesn’t benefit me even if I follow through and do it. This is different than taking risks, I take risks all the time, but definitely not taking everything thrown at me probably has helped made this road a bit smoother for me.

Looking back on my career, everything happened like a domino/butterfly effect. I can directly trace back all of my biggest accomplishments, one connection at a time.

Please tell us about Brainztem.
My brand is Brainztem. I work closely with @thatgoodwork production team, but solo I am known as Brainztem. I am a cameraman that specializes in personal content for musical artists. I am known for being a trustworthy cameraman that artists want around to document their days. I am most proud of my relationships that I am able to build with these artists and their teams, I also feel like that is what sets me apart from others. There are definitely more skilled and talented camera people out there, but few that can penetrate the personal side of the artists they work with.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Bridge more connections between brands and the artists I’ve worked with.

Contact Info:

  • Website: brainztem.xyz
  • Phone: 7144878828
  • Email: brainztem@gmail.com
  • Instagram: brainztem
  • Twitter: brainztem

Image Credit:
@forgoodness5ake for personal photo

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