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Meet SFV and DTLA Professional Photographer: Briana Edwards

Today we’d like to introduce you to Briana Edwards.

Briana, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I never learned how to speak another language until I picked up a camera.

I took my first photography class as a high school freshman. When I started shooting with a camera for the first time, I felt like I could express myself in a way that I never had before. I was fascinated by color, composition, lines, and shapes that my subjects created. What I captured became an extension of my voice and ideas; I was soon known around campus for always carrying my camera. I shot anything and everything that I could and my friends became frequent subjects of mine.

But my passion for photography really flourished when I got into college. I started spending hours riding the bus and the train capturing the city of Los Angeles. My hometown made me fall in love with photography; I figured that if I couldn’t afford to explore the cobblestoned streets of Paris or the cafes of Milan, that I could treat my own backyard like a foreign city and visually explore every inch of it.

Spending time trekking through the streets taught me to connect with my subjects before I ever turned the camera on them; I began studying architecture and design, fashion, and art history and learned to examine my creativity outside of the classroom.

What I learned shooting on the streets of Los Angeles made me the photographer that I am today and is a consistent source of inspiration for my architectural work, people work, as well as my street photography.

Has it been a smooth road?
I struggled to find my voice as an artist and photographer after my first few years following high school. After my initial stint in college, I took time from photography and worked more. I also traveled, and spent time with friends and family. Artistically, I felt stunted and I struggled to financially support myself; being a photographer is incredibly gratifying but it can also be unpredictable.

However, I’m not one to give up so I decided to go back to school to cultivate my artistry and technical ability. I find that as an artist, it’s really important to take the time to refocus and reconnect with yourself; the art will always fall into place.

While the path photography has taken me on has brought along plenty of rewards and challenges, I would not have my life any other way.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
In 2016 I’ve been focused on traveling; I’ve already taken several trips and I am currently planning for an extended architectural exploration of Thailand in 2017. I am also working on a series exploring ghost cities and abandoned spaces around the United States and China. I am fascinated by architectural spaces, particularly those that are no longer inhabited.

I want to take Los Angeles, visually package it up, and use it as the filter through which I create my work. My long-term plan is to open an urban collaborative design studio and focus on providing beautiful and creative design and photography for clients large and small. I know that traveling, exploring my artistic limits, and collaborating with others will foster my creativity.

Let’s explore some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way. What was the most difficult part of your career so far?
A few years ago I was given this piece of advice: never stop shooting for yourself.

But when you commute 120+ miles to school and back, work 40 hours a week, attend classes 20 hours a week, study and shoot another 15 hours a week for 45 weeks out of the year, you forget to shoot for yourself. Instead, you schedule a time to eat a sandwich in between assignments, schedule your sleep around sunrise photoshoots, work on images during your lunch break, sleep in your car instead of driving home late at night, and crawl on the floor to turn in a portfolio while crippled with food poisoning.

As a young, working and studying professional, I became so focused on photography that I forgot why I loved being a photographer. I wasn’t enjoying what I captured, I wasn’t enjoying shoots or retouching, I found little joy in the thing that changed my life. I became incredibly depressed, relationships around me fell apart; at some point, I realized that I didn’t want to be a photographer anymore.

I stopped shooting for several months. An instructor who witnessed the change in my demeanor gave me a powerful piece of advice: never stop shooting for yourself. Carry a camera or a phone with you and when you see something, capture it. Don’t worry about the merit of the work, if it’s good or not, just shoot and remember why you love this so much. Shoot projects, go out and explore, do anything, just don’t stop shooting.

From that day on, I took photos of anything and everything: chairs, animals, palm trees, I did impromptu photoshoots, I shot with film, with a phone, anything I could get my hands on. Shooting every day resuscitated my waning passion and carried me through my artistic and emotional depression.

To this day, whenever I feel uninspired or overwhelmed, I hit my favorite taco spot, grab my camera, and I go out and shoot.

Do you ever feel like “Wow, I’ve arrived” or “I’ve made it” or do you feel like the bulk of the story is still unwritten?
My wow moment came while I was still working a small restaurant job. After getting off work late at night, I looked through my messages and saw a voicemail from a film production company here in Los Angeles. They happened to cruise through my Instagram page and liked what they saw so much that later on that day, they left a voicemail with a job they wanted to me to shoot. A week later I was on a studio lot working one of my first big jobs. A month after that I left the restaurant and started working professionally full-time.

Contact Info:

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2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Thompson

    October 25, 2016 at 01:10

    Awesome, incredible story!! Keep moving forward sista’ God bless you!

  2. Renee Nelson

    October 28, 2016 at 06:03

    This was an great article, loved the story. I felt like I walked through the streets of LA as I read this story. Great piece, Briana Edward’s photography is amazing.

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