There’s one consistency that we came to regarding Brett Arthur when we browsed through his portfolio: A little extra goes a long way. While there is a clear dichotomy of tone, aesthetic & attitude throughout his portfolio, specifically referring to his lifestyle work vs. his musician work, we enjoyed the nuances and small things about his composition and thought process. For example, there’s not a great deal of similarities across his portfolio. Some photographers can rest on their laurels and shoot in the same locations with the same post and the same lighting setup. This Raleigh-based shooter seems to continually challenge himself and takes pride in finding new spaces, places and setups to shoot in. For any photographer, whether they’re just starting or have been doing it for years, constantly evolving your work like that is definitely a must.
Brett carries the Union Street Messenger Bag in Smoke.
ONA: How did you get into photography?
BA: It wasn’t until I went off to college that I really started to appreciate the meaning of documenting life visually. My wife, who I met my first year, was always taking photos and she had a strong desire to capture family, friends and life in general, even if it was only wish a Canon powershot. We both began to photograph more of our surroundings and became inspired by the location of our school which was nestled in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina. At the same time, many of my friends were playing in bands and traveling all around, so while I have no musical talent whatsoever, I still wanted to be involved and I began photographing concerts, which led into portraits, then paid gigs from magazines and record labels. I went from photographing musicians to photographing people in a more of “lifestyle” fashion, for lack of better words. While I still do just that, my wife and I wanted to be able to spend more time together and do something that inspires and excites us both, so we began shooting weddings together. We actually just launched our new branding, complete with a new site and blog.
BA: I mostly use Canon gear for both digital and film. My 5D Mark II and 35L get the most use. I also love carrying around my Yashica t4 and Olympus XA-2.
ONA: What sort of project drives your creativity? What is your dream project?
BA: I really enjoy the challenge of setting out to create a representation of someone or something. If its a company that needs me to tell the viewer who they are visually, that gets me excited. Same for musicians, folks in a write up and especially people getting married. Sometimes you aren’t given the best location or overall conditions for a shoot, so making it work with what you’re given is a driving force to creativity. If I had to pick a dream project, it would be to assign myself to photographing my children’s lives the best way possible when we have them. I do not have many photographs of my childhood and that bums me out.
ONA: What is the best/ hardest thing about being a photographer?
BA: One reason I wanted to make this into a career was the excitement that people get when they see a great image of their self. Meeting those same people is also an amazing part of all of this. I’ve met so many great people and because I have to build a higher level of trust with these people, a friendship is usually started as well. The stories of who they are, where they’ve come from and what they’re doing now are always so interesting to hear, no matter who it is. The hardest part about being a photographer is learning how to separate work life from home life. The industry is always awake and and moving so fast. It can be hard to put the business side of things on pause for a moment, especially with social media and the internet in general. I promise, you won’t miss all that much if you take your life offline for a little bit and enjoy those around you.
BA: My style of shooting is pretty laid back. I like to get my shots as they happen, without forcing them, but I do use subtle direction. If I see something and anticipate it happening, but it doesn’t, then I’ll step in and guide the subjects to recreate it. A couple years ago, I stopped using lighting and that freedom from being plugged in allowed for me to develop a better shoot-on-the-fly aesthetic that I am still developing.
BA: Take your time, don’t rush things and shoot for yourself as much as you can to help develop your own unique style of shooting.
ONA: How did you hear about us?
BA: I ran across a men’s fashion blog while searching for the ultimate men’s camera bag. A quick Twitter poll also reassured me Ona was the way to go.