Interview #52: Brian Oldham


CUS: First of all, the most standard question in the book: how did you get into photography?

Brian Oldham: My senior year of high school, I was looking at Facebook when I saw one of my friends post about a photographer named Rosie Hardy. I clicked through the link to Rosie's Flickr, and my perspective about what photography is and could be changed after looking through her photos. I had always liked art, but had never really found a creative outlet that fit, so I decided to give photography a try and began taking self-portraits. 


CUS: Tell us a little about where you live. How does your town/country affect your photography?

BO: I live in a pretty suburban area, so it can be hard to find natural environments nearby to shoot in, so I spend a lot of time driving around scouting out new locations. Although, I live in an area in California where I have access to all different kinds of terrains if I'm willing to make the drive. The beach, forests, mountains, and deserts are all no more than an hour drive, so it's really convenient! 


CUS: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

BO: I didn't have anything, actually! I'm not much of a breakfast eating person.


CUS: Describe your average day. 

BO: My average day is pretty boring. I go to school, edit photos, take new ones, and sleep. I've fallen into a bit of a routine lately that I like, but I'm excited for school to let out so that I can devote even more of my time to my photography.


CUS: Did you study, or are you studying, photography? If not, how did you learn?

BO: No, I'm completely self-taught! I've never taken any courses or classes for photography, I just experiment with new techniques and ideas to push myself to learn more. 


CUS: What are five things you can’t live without?

BO: Apple juice, the Internet, music, my camera, and sleep!


CUS: Do you believe that with the rise of digital photography the phrase “everyone can be a photographer” is true?

BO: I guess it depends on your own definition of what a photographer is. I think a photographer is someone who takes photos with a final product in mind- someone whose goal is to create a specific image versus just randomly snapping the shutter.


CUS: You seem to be interested in fantasy or the surreal. Can you discuss why these themes or subjects regularly appear in your work? 

BO: I'm not sure why they're such a big part of my work, but I've always been intrigued with images that are more on the surreal side. I love photos that have a surreal or fantastic quality about them- especially in situations where the photo looks so realistic that it's hard to believe the scene is actually occurring, even if it was created with the help of Photoshop. I guess it's just that that I strive to recreate in my own conceptual images- a sort of 'magical realism'. 


CUS: If every photograph should contain one key element, what would it be in your opinion?

BO: Good lighting.


CUS: What is your fondest childhood memory?

BO: I don't know that I have one singular memory that I'm most fond of, but I have a lot of memories from my childhood that I keep close and derive inspiration from, because I was lucky enough to have such a good one. Racing popsicle sticks in the gutters, tea parties in tee-pees, and water balloon fights in the yard.


CUS: Who, or what, is your biggest influence?

BO: Nature. 


CUS: What are your other hobbies besides photography?

BO: I like to read and explore new places. 


CUS: Do you think that the Internet is a legitimate place to showcase photographic work?

BO: Definitely! I never would have gotten any of the opportunities I've gotten if it weren't for having shared my work over the Internet. 


CUS: Do you always have preconceived concepts of what you want to shoot?

BO: Not always, but I find it really helpful and more fulfilling to take an idea and create it just the way I imagined it looking in my head. My favorite pictures I've taken, and the ones that come out best, in my opinion, are the ones in which I went out with a specific plan and concept. 


CUS: What are your plans for the summer?

BO: Besides taking a horribly soul-sucking math course, my boyfriend, Alex, is going to be moving here to California to live with me- which is going to be really super. 


CUS: What advice would you give to your fellow up-and-coming photographers?

BO: Don't be afraid to create what you want, and don't hold yourself back from what you have the potential to become!


CUS: What do you hope to achieve with your photography? Do you foresee photography as a career in your future?

BO: Yes, I'm pursuing photography as a career. I don't know how people can spend their lives doing things they don't love. 


CUS: Our last interviewee, Shiri Lee Webb, wants to know: Do you feel it is necessary to study photography in order to understand photographs?

BO: No, not at all! With practice, I think that anyone can come to understand photographs or photography and have even more potential to create uniquely. 


CUS: Last but not least, what would you like to ask the next interviewee?

BO: What is your dream location? 


Brian Oldham, b. 1993 from Orange, California


Images provided by Brian Oldham. All rights reserved.