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Photographer Tom Brannigan Approaches Beauty Like a Still Life

Photographer Tom Brannigan Approaches Beauty Like a Still Life

UK-based photographer Tom Brannigan has a penchant for loud music, good espresso, and sans-serif fonts. He approaches his observe with a classically fashionable knack for composition and a punk-rock sense of playfulness. With influences starting from Rothko and Yves Klein to skateboarding and graffiti, his pictures possesses a novel dynamism that confidently sidesteps the frequent conventions of product and sweetness pictures. Precarious shapes present dramatic rigidity and nonetheless objects come to life in live performance with their environment.

Brannigan’s skilled journey took him from novice artist to studio assistant to full-time photographer, and he now works with an in depth rolodex of purchasers from Gucci to Vogue. As an unpretentious and humorously self-deprecating father of two (quickly to be three), he not too long ago accomplished a grasp’s diploma and is wanting ahead to a wide range of extra-curricular initiatives involving his newfound love of typography and screenprinting. Forward, Brannigan shares his journey into skilled pictures, methods of the commerce, and the duty that comes with fabricating industrial fantasies.

Tom Brannigan

Tom Brannigan

How is 2024 treating you to date?

“It’s very chilly right here, however I’m again in my studio area after a retouching deadline. My spouse and I are about to have our third child within the subsequent couple of weeks. I’m considering loads creatively, but additionally, my nesting instincts are kicking in.”

As a photographer, are you planning some form of Anne Geddes-style photograph shoot with the child?

“I used to be truly simply having that dialog with my spouse. I requested her if it was cool to convey a digital camera to the hospital—you realize, some lights, perhaps an assistant and digital tech, and a little bit of set dressing. It’s our third child, so that you’ve acquired to have a little bit of enjoyable.”

I wish to ask artists this query–do you bear in mind the primary piece of artwork that you simply made? Or somewhat, the very first thing you made that you simply thought-about to be artwork?

“That’s a really heavy query. I can consider the primary piece of labor that I thought-about a ‘photographic’ piece—planning and thought went into it. I began pictures after I acquired my first digital camera at perhaps 15 or 16. I bear in mind taking some footage on a vacation in France, and there’s a shot overlooking a patio of chairs and tables. For a 15-year-old, it’s fairly modernist—only a composition of circles and contours. It’s actually nice, however I don’t know the place it’s. It’s a sure sort of pictures, which I assume I nonetheless do: nonetheless life and constructed photographs.

“In about 2013, I used to be concerned about the way you present concepts visually, and I made a bit of labor with 52 photographs in a grid. Every picture represents per week in 2012 with 4 glasses of milk, and every glass represents a inventory trade on the FTSE, Dow Jones, NIKKEI, and the DAX. The milk stage would change relative to what the inventory market had performed that week. It created a form of infographic of what was purported to be a turbulent financial time.”

That’s very intelligent. Why did you select milk?

Milk has a symbolism to it—non secular connotations with purity and in addition a ubiquitous commodity. It’s earthy and parental. It felt like a superb signifier for what I used to be attempting to symbolize.”

How outdated had been you while you did that challenge?

“I used to be about 27 or 28, and I’d been serious about it for a very long time. I’m fairly a late bloomer.”

Loewe Perfume

Tom Brannigan/ Trunk Archive

Tom Brannigan/ Trunk Archive

What artists had been formative to your present model?

“I used to be very influenced by the modernist period of work, across the Nineteen Twenties—[Yves] Klein, [Wassily] Kandinsky, and to a lesser extent Picasso, all very problematic characters now. I bear in mind after I was a pupil, I lived in Slovakia for six months, and I used to go to Vienna loads. I went to the trendy artwork museum and spent a number of time on the ground with all of the futurist and modernist works, I used to be actually blown away. I bear in mind there was a Rothko retrospective on the Tate after I first moved to London, and I used to be actually moved by the collection of huge pink work. It doesn’t inform you something, however it tells you all the things. When it comes to pictures, there are such a lot of influences, however traditional photographers like [Irving] Penn or Man Bourdin had been an enormous affect by way of creativity.”

Was there a turning level the place you realized you wished to do pictures professionally?

“My first job in London was as an assistant at Huge Sky Studios. I bear in mind seeing David Sims shoot within the huge studio on certainly one of my first weeks. It was fairly totally different from my work, however I simply bear in mind the best way he managed the area and the best way his setting felt. Everybody was concentrated and hyper-focused. I bear in mind considering, ‘That is the place I wish to be.’”

“I all the time wished to make a residing from pictures. I simply wasn’t positive how I used to be going to do it. After I was first assistant to a producer, it was stretching me intellectually and paying okay, so I figured perhaps I’d simply make my private artwork on the facet however wouldn’t do it commercially. I knew turning into knowledgeable photographer could be an uphill battle. However when my first baby was born—she’s eight now—I bear in mind considering, ‘I would like to tug this factor round and be a photographer as a result of I don’t wish to be another person’s bitch for the remainder of my life.’ Simply because one thing is difficult, doesn’t imply it’s best to hand over.

“That’s after I began doing still-life pictures as a result of it was a lot much less depending on different folks, and I felt prefer it suited my persona. It was fairly artistic, however you might be fairly iterative about the way you develop a picture.”

Tom Brannigan/ Trunk Archive

Tom Brannigan/ Trunk Archive

How does nonetheless life complement your persona?

“I’m not your typical still-life photographer by way of being actually OCD essentially, however there’s a very graphic ingredient to the pictures, and I’m fairly choosy and delicate to area round me. It’s a special problem than with vogue or magnificence since you are constructing the picture. You can begin taking part in round with one thing and finish the day with no resolved end result, and while you return tomorrow, it offers you an opportunity to maintain experimenting. That’s the good factor about pictures: urgent pause, you get an opportunity to essentially have a look at all the things. All of it goes by so quick in any other case.”

Your images are so dynamic, how do you breathe life into nonetheless objects?

“There’s no method to it, I assume you simply play. Play with filling the body, composition, and detailed crops. Nearly like setting a dinner desk at a restaurant, you progress issues round till it feels proper.”

Are there any methods of the commerce that you simply use?

“Plenty of clear gummy tack, mirrors, fishing wire, and spraying stuff with gloss. I attempt to not be too technical with my nonetheless life. When one thing is fantastically lit, exact, and in focus, it feels so static and inflexible that it turns into uninteresting regardless that it’s executed fantastically. At that time, it looks like one thing you might have made on a pc. When it has that bit of heat or movement or blur that may solely come from the magic of a digital camera, it feels extra natural.”

Tom Brannigan/ Trunk Archive

Tom Brannigan/ Trunk Archive

How have you ever taken what you realized from nonetheless life and utilized it to vogue and portraiture?

“It’s really easy while you begin photographing fashions to start out making footage that you simply’ve already seen earlier than. I needed to strip away a number of the sense reminiscence and information and say, ‘I’m simply going to try to make the wonder appear like the nonetheless life.’ Filling the body, the colour, the minimalism, the graphic-ness—I attempt to convey these methods into my model-based work. And conversely, the organic-ness and shapes feed their manner again into the nonetheless life. I actually benefit from the dialogue between the 2.

“After I stopped having the ability to do model-based work in the course of the pandemic, it gave me a little bit of a pause by way of what I wished to do with magnificence. I believe attitudes have modified, and duty is kind of enormous if you end up somebody who makes photographs. Being a bit older and having two daughters, I’ve seen the best way my spouse and the folks round me have interaction with the wonder and vogue world—there’s a duty in that imagery. That you must consider the influence of the fantasies you’re promoting. Even when they’re simply projections, they’ll trigger harm. I don’t need my footage to try this, if that doesn’t sound too smug.”

What are you wanting ahead to artistically?

“I truly simply completed my grasp’s research this yr in communication design, and I actually fell in love with typography and screenprinting within the final two years. I’m additionally actually concerned about meals imagery and the visible connection (or disconnection) between how it’s produced and what we eat. I’m actually on this thought of meals, visible meals, and the way you would possibly talk over a meal—utilizing images as an alternative of meals to create that communication.”

Are you extra of a serif or a sans-serif form of man?

“At all times sans serif. The larger and blocker, the higher.”

Woodford Reserve

Tom Brannigan/ Trunk Archive

Tom Brannigan/ Trunk Archive

Have you ever ever made a self-portrait? And in case you made a nonetheless life that was a self-portrait, what could be in it?

“I don’t take into consideration my picture in any respect. I don’t really feel it represents me, it’s only a vessel for concepts. I needed to make a self-portrait as soon as after I was with my outdated agent. Within the photograph was a lens from a big format digital camera on a ball, after which there’s a extremely flexible wire—the wire represented my again since my again is form of screwed up. That was me hunched over a digital camera with a foul again. That was self-portraiture. You can be actually pretentious and say, ‘all pictures is self-portraiture, proper?’”

Our theme for January is ‘easy pleasures,’ what are your favourite small indulgences?

“Making a extremely good cup of espresso–actually good espresso. And turning my music up actually, actually, actually, actually loud. Should you’re not feeling it in your toes, then it’s not fairly proper. That makes me completely satisfied.”

Tom Brannigan/ Trunk Archive

Tom Brannigan/ Trunk Archive

Fast Fireplace Questions

What’s your responsible pleasure?

“Watching a cricket match, I can get fully absorbed for 5 days.”

Hidden expertise?

“I’d wish to assume I’m not a foul cook dinner.”

Irrational concern?

“Mimes and clowns, however I don’t assume it is irrational!”

Desert island picks?

“Perhaps pens and a sketchbook. so I may lastly study to attract!”

Finest reward you ever acquired? Finest reward you’ve given?

“Most likely the most effective factor I’ve ever been given was my first digital camera—an outdated Pentax 35mm—just about modified the course of my life. The most effective factor I’ve given is the bean-to-cup espresso machine I purchased my spouse a number of years in the past—civility breaks down in our home if we run out of beans or if it’s damaged.”

The most effective mistake you’ve made?

“Quitting helping and pushing myself to exit alone and make my very own work.”

Prime 5 most-used emojis?


The final film, guide, or music that made you cry?

“I simply learn A Prophet Tune by Paul Lynch, it actually caught with me.”

Who’s your dream collaborator?

“Difficult query. I’m so fortunate to have labored with so wonderful many alternative creatives; stylists, set designers, artwork administrators and so on. It’s very totally different from my work, however in one other lifetime, I’d have cherished to have been one of many FSA documentary photographers working underneath Roy Stryker—that period actually outlined image-making for me, and confirmed me the potential energy of the {photograph}.”

Finest piece of recommendation you’ve ever acquired?

“Take your time.”

The collected works of Tom Brannigan are represented by Trunk Archive.


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