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Meet Downtown Photographer: Brandon Showers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandon Showers.

Brandon, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised on a farm in Ohio. The arts were not something that most people pursued as opposed to working on the farm or in a factory. My parents though were never discouraging about anything that I wanted to pursue. As a kid I was very much into drawing, comic books, model making, playing guitar, movies, monsters, and dabbling in photo and video with anything I could find. I had a friend whose parents let us use their video camera and we created parodies of skit comedy shows like Saturday Night Live and The Kids in the Hall.

I enrolled in college at the University of Cincinnati where I majored in Electronic Media. My focus was in video and editing and I also worked part-time at the local public access cable station. At this point, all I wanted to do was make music videos. After graduating I took a job at a corporate industrial supply company where I made safety videos for their multiple franchises and stockholders. It literally sucked the soul out of me because instead of making some avant grade music video I was showing people how to save money by using a paper clip more than once. Eventually, I took a night class for photography and starting learning how to use the functions on a camera. It wasn’t really at this point that I fell in love with photography but it helped me to learn the basics and disciplines of how to shoot.

I had been playing tournament paintball at a national level for years leading up to this point and I started using my new found camera knowledge to document my trips on the road, taking pictures of my teammates and selling a few images to magazines. I eventually talked one of the magazines into letting me photograph a tournament on the field so I literally went out and bought my first DSLR and drove to Chicago to shoot my first tournament. They loved the pictures and this began what would become my initial career as a photographer. I traveled all over the world, shooting 30+ tournaments a year and supplying imagery for every magazine and company in the industry. Through this job, I was eventually able to support myself and make a move to Los Angeles and continue to pursue whatever work I could in the visual arts.

Initially, I had been trying to do video work and was taking a bunch of terrible jobs on Craigslist. I started also doing photo assistance as a way to make extra money. That eventually took off for me as well and when I wasn’t on the road, I was assisting for many great photographers in LA. I worked at every major studio, working with everything from cars, to celebrities, to animals, to food, and whatever else people were shooting. I learned most of what I know about lighting from working on set.

After 2008 the paintball industry, along with everything else, took a hit from the recession and all of the magazines folded which left me with few outlets. From working as an assistant for a number of years I had amassed a ton of friends in the hair and makeup industry. The main point of working in paintball was to be able to work with my friends so being faced with losing that outlet was pretty humbling. So I decided to start shooting beauty as a way to continue to work with the people that I enjoyed the most. My technical skill set transitioned nicely and I found myself waist deep in the beauty industry where I began shooting small campaigns, editorial, and live demos for young artists. This became my new specialty for a number of years while continuing to also assist with some select clients.

In 2011 I met my wife here in LA. She is a fashion and costume designer. We had been dating for a few months when she got a call to costume a movie in Vietnam. It was going to require 6 months of her time and I remember thinking that I was going to lose her. We talked about it at great length and agreed to try and make it work. We decided that if we were truly strong enough and we wanted to commit to each other that our love would endure. She left and I continued to work in Los Angeles with the promise of going to visit her. I went out for a few weeks and she showed me everything about the city and the people that she was working with. I ended up meeting a ton of great people and eventually working on the movie as well, shooting the marketing campaign for the film.

By this time I had also been knocking on doors and meeting the advertising agencies and editorial magazines in Vietnam. After a few shoots for Cosmopolitan and local magazines, I got a call by one of the production houses to shoot a campaign for Pepsi. This became my first job for a global brand and my work was on every billboard, bus stop, storefront, and grocery store in the country. It was not long after the movie had wrapped that my wife and I decided to come back to LA.

While it was great to be back and see family and friends again, I still felt like there were opportunities that we needed to explore. After a few months, we decided to spend the summer in Vietnam so we packed everything up in storage in LA, and moved back with the intention of only spending 3-4 months. Everything started clicking for us including the fact that my wife had become pregnant with our first child. We started to look into the healthcare in Vietnam and learned that the costs were far more affordable than the U.S. while being at an even higher level of service. I had been shooting a lot of advertising for agencies like BBDO, Ogilvy, Grey, Lowe, Phibious, Satchi and many other smaller ones so I was able to support us on a single income. Eventually, we got an apartment and lived in Saigon. My wife worked on a new fashion collection at home while I went to work shooting and attending meetings.

After about a year of shooting advertising and editorial for the fashion magazines, I was introduced to the publisher of Esquire, Cosmopolitan, and Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam. After a few cups of coffee, I was asked to be the Creative Director for all 3 magazines, conceptualizing and executing all of their fashion, beauty, and editorial shoots. It was like a dream come true at this point so I jumped at the chance to take the position. I worked on everything that we shot for the local content. We shot at castles, elephants at the zoo, tropical gardens, art museums, and many other amazing locations! The experience was incredible and I learned a lot!

About a year into being a CD, our daughter was born and we started thinking about our future. Our intent was never to live in Vietnam but it just kind of happened that way although we longed for our family and friends and started to plan our exit strategy. I stopped working at the magazines and dove right back into shooting national campaign work which was very successful over the next 6 months. Eventually, I had generated enough money to move us back home and in 2014 we landed safely back in Los Angeles but this time we had our new addition to our family, our little girl.

We found a great place back in Downtown and started working again. My wife has started a very successful body wear line while I have begun shooting more activewear and sports photography which is where my focus will be for now. I don’t plan on moving again anytime soon. I could actually use a bit of stability for a few years. We love Los Angeles and call it our city. The people, places, and things I encounter are what fills my soul and inspires my work.

Has it been a smooth road?
Nobody’s road should be smooth, especially as a creative. If you are not at least a little frightened by your path, then you are probably not taking enough risks. It’s these risks that force us to move outside of our comfort zone and explore other subjects or take on a daunting project. My own struggles are vast. I don’t come from money or even a place where creativity and the arts are celebrated. My path has been carved out using my Midwest work ethic and taking advantages of the opportunities when they are presented. Moving to LA, the 2008 recession, having industries ripped out from under me, relocating to the other side of the planet and back again…. But it’s these struggles and how I have dealt with them that have shaped where I am today. I will probably never stop struggling. I feel like it keeps my mind sharp and my work fresh.

What is the most difficult part of what you do?
The hardest part of what I do is not only meeting the expectations of my clients but also going above and beyond, creating work that exceeds their expectations. The thing that will keep clients coming back is making imagery that they did not even know that they wanted which will not only look visually stunning but also communicate their intended message even better.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is seeing my clients come back again and again. In my world, you don’t get a B or a C grade. There are only A’s and F’s. You pass or fail. When I have a client come bak to me for a new campaign, I know that I have succeeded.

So, what should we be on the lookout for, what’s next in store for you?
Since moving back to Los Angeles I have realized that I must change my target client to the industries here in the city. I am now shooting less fashion and focusing more on sports and entertainment advertising.

Contact Info:

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Image Credit:
photo by Brandon Showers

1 Comment

  1. Marcine Taylor

    October 31, 2016 at 23:51

    How proud I am to have read all about your career. You are an excellent photographer. You deserve great recognition.

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