Do you ever stop and wonder about all of the different people you come across in your life, and in what ways, big or small, that they impact your life, or even just how they can alter your outlook in some way? I'm fortunate enough, in my business, to interact with unique individuals all the time. Since I'm a dreamer who overanalyzes everything, I think about what type of people I want to be more like all of the time. That's not to say that I'm unhappy with who I am. I just like to take a little inspiration from each person that comes into my existence, maybe even leaving me just a little bit better for the world. Without a shadow of a doubt, I now know that I have a real struggle with fear and doubt, constantly worried about what others think of me, and if they approve or not. I believe that is why I gravitate towards "the fearless" for personal inspiration. Often, someone will walk into my studio with a magnetic energy about them, and I'm immediately intrigued. They are able to articulate, with such clarity and confidence, about their passions. They have an idea about where they are going in life, and have a game plan to start their journey to positively impact this world. Nobody's concerns or disapproval seems to get in their way. My eyes widen, my ears open, hairs standing straight up, excited to dig into this person's soul with my camera. Clients are often amazed at my ability to remember them, having photographed so many people over the last 16 years. These people are prominent additions to my neurological pathways and are memories I hope to hold onto forever. What I have to say to THE FEARLESS is: "You have touched a life the minute you met me. When times get hard and you don't feel that you have a purpose, just know that you've already added to the world with the relationships that you cultivate, sharing your energy with others that see you in a different light than you see yourself. Don't ever give up on what makes you unique and special. I'm grateful that we had the chance to meet. Forever changed by your existence, Brady."
Henry and Diane's wedding day is not one that I will soon forget. My 2nd photographer and I weren't scheduled to arrive at the first venue until about 1pm. Since there had already been a fair bit of rain, and it was in the forecast for the day, we decided to put a couple hours into scouting locations that were partly sheltered from the elements. Success! We mapped out a few locations fairly close to the venue that looked perfect. Then off to meet the bridal party for the getting ready shots! The boys had planned to get ready aboard an old wooden boat in the quaint living quarters, but no one anticipated what that would be like as the wind and waves started to pick up. Crisis averted as we moved the boys into the curtained off reception hall. If only the girls were dealing with the same type of obstacle haha.
The makeup and hair styling not only started extremely late, but it was discovered that, due to the impending storm, the power had been knocked out. No power, no curling irons. Being an insensitive guy with a balding head, I suggested just modifying the hairstyle that Diane had chosen for her day, and rolling with the power outage punches. However, these were strong women I was dealing with. One of the bridesmaids optimistically jumped on the horn and started the search for a new place to get ready with power.
With no hesitation, the Burke Museum on the UW campus welcomed us. Diane and her girls, only portraying positivity, flexibility and smiles, proceeded to set up shop in a hallway near the women's bathroom. I'm laughing again just writing this. Now behind schedule by about 1.5 hours, having taken way less images than normal, shooting in none of the locations scouted, we were all still laughing and having a blast. It was apparent that no force on earth could stop Henry and Diane from living out their love story.
The boys then joined us on campus for their portraits and for Henry and Diane's first look. During all of this, the relentless wind continued to pound the trees and buildings, taking it's toll on the girl's hair. It was discovered that two people actually lost their lives in the storm that day. So so sad. As the storm progressed, the decision had to be made to move the ceremony venue indoors at a local church in Green Lake. One more set of surprises that ended up turning out so beautiful. It was amazing to watch everyone work together to make such a memorable day. The images below will give you a minor glimpse into the incredible and triumphant day between two very beautiful people, that I'm sure, will share a wonderful existence together for the rest of their days.
“Photographs are often looked at, but rarely looked into." -Ansel Adams Sometimes I am discouraged when people don’t see what I see in a photograph I took. An image is enhanced by a personal experience attached to it, and I’m realizing that I’m going to be the only one with that perspective. That’s also why no one will have the same reaction to my family photo albums as I do.
Growing up, my mother took pictures of “everything”. I remember when I got chicken pox and how she felt it was absolutely necessary to document my spotted, naked body. All appropriate parts covered, but still, not my finest moment. My mom had dated our 50 photo albums and kept our memories very organized. She used to think it was so funny when I would flip through old photos and find clothes that I used to love and was torn up when I realized they were gone. She laughed because I obviously just grew out of them. I’m so lucky to have documentation of my M.C. Hammer pants that my mom made for me, or the red flannel that I used to tuck into my red sweat pants. Yes, even my custom made inhaler pouch that hung around my neck so that I would never misplace it.
Growing up, I never seemed to remember anything. My mom would get so upset when I couldn’t remember something I wrote or sang or read about my grandfather after he passed away. See, I still can’t remember. So for me, photographs help me to stay grounded in where I came from and the events that have shaped who I am today. Unfortunately, whatever I did in honor of my grandfather at church one day, there is no photographic proof that it happened. That saddens me.
My mother’s influence rubbed off on me, making it hard for me to just enjoy moments without documenting their existence. I can’t handle the thought of forgetting something quirky my child did, or fishing with my best friend, my daughter’s wedding, or even my grandmother’s love for cards and bubbly.
There is only one way to tangibly hold onto the people and experiences that touch our lives. Photographs. I can get lost for hours in the internet vortex, looking at other people’s images and memories, wondering how rich and full their lives are or were. I’m sucked in by any image saturated in emotion and stories. I can’t help but hope that people will one day look back at my photographs, mesmerized by the beauty of the people and places in them. I want to leave a historically creative footprint behind, and stories will ignite from my images.
Ansel Adams said “Some photographers take reality…and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation." I like images that tell a person or place’s story for that time, but I definitely like to tell it from my perspective. People are hard on themselves and if we always photographed them where they were right at that moment and time, we would probably have a lot of depressing reality. If I get the opportunity to tell their story the way I see them, maybe, just maybe they’ll start to see themselves that way too. Unique, beautiful and important.
I sit at my computer staring at the thousands of wedding images I have taken this year, wondering, for hours, just how to express what I experienced on these couple's special days. Unfortunately, I come up empty every time. There is just too much good stuff that I want everyone to share in that any post would just be too long and involved. So what do I do? How do I advertise for more weddings when I hardly blog about any of them? Ugh. The war that wages inside of me is whether to show what impacted me or show what impacts brides to be. I believe it's time for a change, at least for me. Of course I always shoot the details at every wedding; the rings, the dress, the flowers, the table settings, the gifts, etc. The problem is that when I start to blog about the wedding day, I find that a lot of that "stuff" isn't what impacted me, and therefore I have a hard time expressing excitement about it.
When you hire me to shoot your wedding, you should know, up front, that I'm there for you and the people that you chose to witness and celebrate such an exciting and important time in your life. Those people that I come across, spend time with, torture with my camera, and become friends with, are part of the interactions and moments during the day, that I believe, will last forever as the best memories. Below are some images of a moment during Chris and Shilo's wedding that really got to me. The quartet was playing a song in memory of Chris' mother that had recently passed away. Seeing the tears in the groom's eye and support of his family and friends was really touching. There is no image I could post that would do that memory justice if you weren't there.
So here's to change! Brides...grooms...family...photography lovers...let's remember the most important reasons you hire a wedding photographer. I challenge other photographers and vendor blogs to start raising hype about the little details that matter during such a special occasion. And I'm not talking about flowers. I'm talking about the people and the interactions that unfold with those people. There is a good reason why I charge what I charge, so that I'm able to take a qualified journalist with me to every wedding, so that, together, we don't miss out on the things that will bring tears of joy to your eyes in 20+ years.
Thanks for taking the time to read what's been heavy on my mind lately. I look forward to meeting and sharing lots of good times with good people at my weddings to come!
Digital photography has ruined me! I find so much comfort knowing that the image I captured, 2 seconds before reviewing it, is sharp and well exposed. When I was, what I consider, a "real" film photographer, there were no guarantees that my images would even turn out. Over the past 6 months, I've made the decision to photograph my personal projects and family with film because I don't care about the risk, and I absolutely love the process and delayed gratification. For clients, digital, every time. However, 2 jobs have crept into my studio asking for film exclusively. Nervous and excited, I agreed. My first job involved photographing senior portraits for a boy named Clay. However, one of his loves is photography and film is all he uses. No pressure at all. Right? Moral of the story is; Just when I thought I could do my job comfortably with my eyes closed, someone comes through the door to push me and stretch me, taking me right out of my comfort zone. I hope to run into more people like Clay in the near future who are willing to take a risk and who really respect the timely creative process of film photography. All images are taken with my Yashica Electro 35 and Ilford FP4 Film.
Let me introduce you to Stephanie Parrish. She is a 12 year open heart surgery survivor with a strong passion for life. Not supposed to live past the age of 9, I feel a greater appreciation for the chance to meet her and create her senior portraits. The roles were reversed in our session as her and her mom, Kathleen, were the ones that entertained me the whole time. When Kathleen asked if I would make a portrait of Stephanie with her scar, I jumped at the opportunity. We need people like Stephanie, wearing her scar proudly, reminding us just how precious life is. If you get a chance, listen to her story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTnJEdFifvY
Brittany (bride) had called the studio asking I would do pictures of her for Matt (groom) as a wedding gift. My first thought was "Who's doing the wedding photography?" Brittany thought that a local photographer wouldn't travel to Maui for her wedding and had just planned on hiring someone over there. Well, as you can see, I was quite persuasive. Haha. I wasn't able to meet Matt before the wedding, which always stresses me out, not knowing whether I'm a great fit or not. As soon as he started quoting Tommy Boy and Dumb and Dumber, I knew we'd be friends.
There was only about 30 people at the wedding, so it was very intimate, which I love. These people are amazing too. Never once did I feel like just the photographer. They took me in like family. This definitely allows me to capture more amazing photographs. Some people will always hold their photographer at arms length and continuously order off of the "portrait menu." I will always cherish the friendships I've made through jobs like this and others.
The photos above only give you a glimpse into the great memories that were made that day by Jerome Pollos and myself.
This was a film project between Josh Monteith of Moor Pictures and myself. We brainstormed a theme, recruited actors (3 seniors I photographed), borrowed a car named Buttercup and set out to make a short story film. It carries no agenda, but as a lover of art, I hope it at least entertains some. All of the photographs were shot using a Bronica 645 camera and a Nikomat 35mm camera. The only digital medium used was for the actual video footage. That, in itself, makes me happy. I hope you enjoy!
She represents speed, fear and impatience all at the same time. She can't be contained, held down, or bound. She is and must be free.
The girls pictured here were part of a private photography lesson that a mom purchased for her daughter for Christmas. How humbling it is to get paid to share something you're so passionate about. This girl was the real deal too. She has the potential to do something great with photography. Only a freshman in high school, she already has 10 times the confidence that I have now. Watching her pick up on the information so quickly made me miss the days when I was sponge for the camera.
Teaching photography has always been something I've wanted to do. In my 15th year of professional portraiture, I finally realize that I haven't given back to my industry in any way, shape or form. With a wife and 5 kids, I've always felt I had nothing left to give the rest of the world.
After attending WPPI this year in Vegas, I'm left with a deep sense of responsibility to share my love for the camera with my sphere of influence. One thing that has held me back is not being able to put into technical, scientific lingo what it is I actually do. Sorry, I'm still not sure how to tell you. But I can show you.
For years I found that looking all around at what every other photographer had to offer only left me feeling small and inadequate. I don't want to feel that way anymore. Testimonials like this one below bring me back to the actual reality that there is power in the skills I've been blessed with. I may not be changing the world over night, but I can promise you this; my personal world has been changed by the art of photography.
Testimonial: "I believe that Brady Campbell’s photography changed my daughter’s life. My daughter is a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. Very athletic and casual, and doesn’t see herself as the type of girl who is “pretty”. I brought my daughter to Brady for her senior pictures. Brady was able to capture her essence so beautifully that she couldn’t stop looking at her photos. She could not believe that was her. Her self-image has been changed dramatically. She now knows that, though she is still a jeans and t-shirt girl, it’s only by her choice, and that she actually is a “pretty” girl. Brady Campbell was able to work so comfortably with her, and yet he is so meticulous in what he is capturing in each of his shots. He made my daughter look stunning. His work is true art and nothing less. Thank you Brady, for showing my daughter how beautiful she actually is." Lisa Norris
In short, I'd like you to pick up a camera and come on a journey with me. Let's let others be the judge of whether our photography is art, or whether it's meaningful. I'm going to start letting people be inspired if they need inspiration, taught if they want to be taught, and just loved if they need to be loved. Will you join me? I may be living on an emotional roller coaster. I may even sound like a girl (no sweat...I've heard it before). However one thing is for sure; as long as my images evoke something great and unexpected out of you, I'm going to keep on clicking, growing and spreading my love for the arts.
Photography by Weston Cederblom
When I pulled out this old photograph of my mom and grandpa, I realized something. Even though I'm obsessed with proper color, contrast and composition, I didn't care about any of that. I did, however, wonder who was behind the camera (I assume my grandma), what they were talking about on that cold night, and what the heck my mom was drinking. The fact that this image is dark, blue, and underexposed didn't cross my mind. Well obviously it did, but only to prove my point. This image was taken with film, and I couldn't love the nostalgic feel of it more. Plus, I really miss my grandpa. It's funny how one image can take me back to so many memories of our family reunions on Whidbey Island, where this was taken. In the future when we look back on our over-edited, over-saturated, over-enhanced digital images, will we feel the same?I absolutely love digital photography in my portrait career. I can click the shutter as many times as I want without feeling guilty about the cost. I experiment more with digital and I'm always confident that I got the shot. We also live in an instant gratification age and I'm not sure my clients could handle the wait that film would bring. However, I miss the simple life as a film photographer. The anticipation of the developing and printing process was exciting. Will my images turn out? Did I have the right film ISO in the camera? Are my images in focus? Typically my film photography was quite a bit more imperfect. But I would argue that the images were more realistic than what we capture with digital. The post editing process leaves too much interpretation of reality in the mix. Say, in Photoshop, you accidentally add too much contrast to your image, making the original RAW now look flat. Then you start to question how far you should go with the contrast. After all, the image is way more eye-grabbing with the added effects. I think this way of thinking in photography is eventually going to dilute the beauty we actually live and breath in. My friend Kirk Mastin says that there is a place for both digital and film. I agree. Digital art can be just amazing and surreal in a good way. However, I've started shooting film a lot more and it's been therapeutic. And since I want my photography to always hold historical significance, I'm making the decision to keep my art simple and appreciate the way things actually are, imperfect and beautiful.
Yesterday, I asked that people send me a photograph and story of their mothers and I can't tell you how much it validated the importance of a photograph along side of an irreplaceable memory. Thank you Emma for telling your story, which I'm sure will inspire and uplift anyone who reads it.
Read her story below:
Meet my mom, Karla Jo. She was a beautiful woman, who left behind an incredible legacy for her children to follow.
I was born to an already large family in 1995, to parents who weren't expecting anymore babies. My mom was 37 and my dad had just turned 40. Mama always called me their miracle baby because I wasn't supposed to survive the pregnancy. She was getting sick, with what we didn't know at the time, but they told her she didn't have much time left. My mom didn't care; she just wanted to raise her babies.
She lived an incredible life, like the ones of heroines that you read about in Nicholas Sparks novels or see in romantic movies. My mom came from a terrible, abusive life in a trailer park in Montana. She ran from a dangerous home and a frightening man. Somehow, she ended up living up on the South Hill of Spokane. My dad was a man of the military, and currently deployed when she purchased the plot of land next to his home. He returned from assignment to find "a crazy woman - she just bought the giant field next to me and started building this ridiculous house with a ridiculous sunk-in living room."
He fell in love with her at first sight. That's the kind of woman she was - enchanting, irresistible, charming, compassionate...you name it, she was wonderful. My dad was a lovesick fool after that. They were married just a couple years later. My oldest sister, Alyssa, was born in 1986 right after they were reassigned to an Air Force base in Arkansas. My mom raised her with little help, as my dad was always working. That didn't change a thing, though. Mom provided everything for Alyssa and their relationship is probably the closest bond I have ever witnessed between mother and daughter.
When our family was moved back to the Northwest, my mom gave birth to her first son, Nathan. He was very sick at birth, but mom refused to give up on him. She spent weeks in the hospital, caring for him, giving him the nurture that nurses could not. They told her that his chances were slim, but never did she lose faith that her boy would grow up to be an upstanding man. She was right, and she raised Nate to be the most incredible man I have ever met. His work ethic, respect for others, and remarkable compassionate nature are carbon copies of my mother's. She instilled a wondrous spirit in my brother, all through her hard work and love.
She built up the Subway empire of Coeur d'Alene in her spare time. At one time, she ran five stores in the Northwest, all while raising three of her own kids, as well as three stepchildren. Never once did any of us feel neglected because of her work. She always traveled with a baby on her hip and a briefcase (filled with toys) in her hand. I was born in 1995, just a few years after my brother. She had been becoming progressively ill over the last year, but chose to plow forward, because living for her family, and serving others in charity, is what she did.
I grew up behind the counter of Subway, learning how to count, work a cash register, and cook, all with her at my side. She never left me with a babysitter; not once. We were bonded in a way not even my dad could ever understand. Out of 3 children, I was the only one to end up with the dominant features of my mom; the only with her beautiful green eyes and excess of laugh lines and dimples on my cheeks. She was my hero, and still is.
Mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was in fourth grade. It was a shocking blow to our family. She rose from the ashes of the fear with a newfound determination to survive. In the middle of my 5th grade year, she packed up a few belongings and moved to Seattle for a year to undergo vigorous treatment. I was lucky enough to spend a summer alone with her in a small apartment overlooking Lake Union while she was treated. During that time, our roles began to change. I was the one holding her while she threw up, the one tucking her in at night, and the one monitoring fevers and medication.
She sang to me every night when we went to bed, from the time I was born, until she didn't have a voice left to sing with anymore. "You Are My Sunshine" and "Go to Sleep" are two lullabies that still resonate in my mind when I go to sleep.
After a year, she returned home, but the treatment had done little. She was very sick, and struggled to balance children, work, church, and charity all in one....but somehow, she did. I never felt like I didn't have a mother looking out for me, even in the worst of times. You could find her baking bread in the middle of the night, or making cookies for her Sunday School class at 6 in the morning, just because she didn't want to waste time feeling sorry for herself. All she wanted was to serve others.
My freshman year of high school, things turned for the worse. She began to lose her memory and her basic motor functions. She was in and out of the hospital and underwent extensive treatment, but the doctors knew her time was coming to a close. The family banded together for what we knew would be last year of her life.
It was a Sunday morning, we were leaving for church. Mom taught a class of 30+ (often unruly) teenagers; she loved them like her own babies. She took a terrible fall off of the garage stairs when she lost a hold of her cane and misstepped. My father and I raced to catch her, but it was too late. Her injuries were severe. While my dad got the car, I helped stabilize her broken hip and carry her to the driveway. The entire drive into Spokane, I held a towel to the wound on her head, gripped her hand, and sang our lullabies back to her. She demanded that we take her to church, instead. She told us that her purpose in life was to serve the kids in her class, and that she would die doing it.
When we arrived at the hospital, we were seated in a room in the ER. My dad went to call my siblings, and I was left with mom. It was the first time in months that she truly recognized me. She looked me in the eye and smiled.
"Emma," she murmured, "it's going to be okay. Never forget how much I love you."
Just a few minutes later, they wheeled her into the big double doors. Those would be the last words she spoke to me.
They ran every test in the book and discovered that the fall had caused a brain bleed. Immediately, she was transferred to Deaconess for brain surgery. They knew she was weak, but expected her to survive with at least some cognitive function.
A week passed; my brother and I returned to school. That Friday, we received the call that she wasn't waking up. We were rushed to the hospital for our last few hours with her. Her beautiful green eyes were open, but blank. She was hooked up to countless machines. For the next twelve hours, I held her hand and sang our lullabies. At 1 AM, she passed from this world. My siblings clung to each other and told stories about her all through the night, and the next week.
At her funeral, more than 400 people showed up. All of whom she had touched at some point in their lives.
It's been two years since she passed, and her legacy shines all around us. Alyssa now has a daughter of her own, and my brother is soon to be married. I am at the end of my junior year, and looking ahead to a bright future. A future that would have never been made possible without the influence and the teachings of my mama.
So on this Mother's Day, it is not a day of sadness. Instead, this year, we are celebrating the legacy Karla left behind. A legacy of a life lived in service to others.
Remember that 4x5 format vertical headshot that we used to sell the crap out of to easily excitable parents? All that a mother wanted to see from the portrait session was a close up of her smiling son or daughter. After-all, they did just dump 4 grand into braces that were recently removed. I can't argue that capturing a person's face is very important and will be cherished forever. My challenge to the photographic world is: First, don't be afraid to include some environment in your portraits, even if that particular location has been used a thousand times. If it's a part of where that person grew up or spent a lot of time, I guarantee it will be important to them at some point. The value of the images we create now can't compete with the future worth of those same images years down the road. Second, I think it's easier to create a story telling image without them looking at the camera. I love the shoots where I never have to say "smile". Lastly, don't let your image be just another pretty face. Add meaning to your images with great intention.
For years, I've been trying to think of who I really am as an artist and what I really like to photograph. There was a good 3 year stretch where all I wanted to capture was happiness and laughter. Clients would come to me with a consistent request for "fun" and "natural" images. I soon realized that you sell what you show, which I had also learned from other artists that I admire. I'll get to the point. All of the sudden, I can't wait to shoot the next quietly powerful image, practically expressionless. I think there is so much to be enjoyed in a quiet, stoic photograph that is well lit and composed. As I spend countless hours on the web, mainly Pinterest, finding other photography that inspires, I realize that my tastes are changing, maybe only for a season. Maybe not. My question to you is this: Am I crippling my successful business, built on giddy imagery? This business has giving me so much and I hope that I'm not taking for the granted the talents I've been given to evoke happiness by taking the more dramatic approach for a while.