This is a tough one!
Brandi Nicole is an artist & photographer based in NYC. Graduated Cum Laude from the University of Central Missouri with a Bachelor of Science in Photography, she has been photographing for the past eight years working with clientele in fine art portraiture and fashion photography.
-Did you always want to be a professional photographer?
I always knew I was going to be an artist. My mother at a young age let me draw on my walls in crayon, and for every birthday my room would fill up with crafting and art tools. I picked up my dad’s old 35mm film camera for a class in high school and fell in love instantly. I knew right then.
-How would you describe your style of photography?
I would consider my work fine art portraiture. My work varies from portrait with some fashion flair, to fine art conceptual ideas; so this is a pretty fitting title.
-How much planning goes into one of your shots?
I plan out my team, concepts, outfits, and props beforehand; but in the moment on a shoot I’ll be trying even more ideas and changes to light etc in order to get a variety of shots conveying the message.
-How do you attract new clients?
Many of my clients are referrals, or from followers of my work on social media.
-What is your post-production workflow like?
I backup my images, cull them down to a workable number that has all the favourite shots, and use a mixture of Lightroom and Photoshop to play with colour and composition. For some of my work that is more imaginative – I’ll refer to my multi-thousand image library for photos of clouds, birds, etc to composite in a photo.
-What is your dream project?
I dream of working on a campaign with a luxury brand who’s styles meet mine. For example: Dior, Chloe, Wildfox Couture, Zimmerman, etc.
-What is your creative process like? What are you start, middle and end points?
In terms of my more creative work, I start with an idea or a moment of inspiration, perhaps it’s a massive bouquet of flowers or an editorial I saw on a billboard. I’ll then scout a model, beauty team, props, and find a day that works for everyone to meet to shoot. My photoshoots usually last for about 3 hours and involve some changes of clothing/draping of fabric, or mixture of different props and light changes. I’ll go through all the photos at the end and try my best to cull them – but I often fall in love with them all and choose a little more than normal to add further touches in post-production.
-How do you approach posing or directing your subject?
I am very comfortable directing posing for people. I have been helping direct everyday people and models alike since I begun shooting my friends’ senior portraits in high school. I aim for anything that makes the subject feel comfortable and genuine. I really try to embrace femininity and have their beauty shine through, so, for the most part, my shoots involve a number of basic poses for stunning portraits.
-What is your general guide when it comes to lighting?
I love natural light, but I also love mimicking natural light with strobes. I found the Elinchrom ELB 500 kit earlier this year and honestly I haven’t shot with anything else with it since. I think it’s best to consider your work when coming up with a plan for your light. Do you want to be more soft, or have more contrast in your final photos? Do you want to have control over direction, or be natural with the sun? It’s all personal preference. I have found that my Octabox on a boom arm has been absolutely key in my portraits.
-What was the best career advice you were ever given?
I think as a creative it is difficult to hustle when you are constantly surrounded by other people’s work, comparing yourself and your progress to others, and wondering if you are doing enough. The most important thing to remember is that you are uniquely you and no one else can make the work you can make. Don’t listen to others and fearlessly and constantly create and share your magic. In the words of Rachel Hollis, “Decide that you care more about creating your magic and pushing it out into the world than you do about how it will be received”.