Hello, I’m Brodie and I’m a photographer, aspiring director/filmmaker and artist to which I’ve created my own aesthetic that aims to transport you into a moody, cinematic dream. I make work that reflects a passionate and fashionable take on my own emotions and personal experiences in life.
A typical day in my career: I wake up and make sure I have everything ready, charge everything and pack everything I need (although I am notorious for forgetting props). Then the nervousness kicks in and the adrenaline starts being my fuel. I pop on my favourite music or any songs/playlists that fit the mood of the shoot to inspire me and then, as soon as I arrive on set, it’s like the entire world stops. It’s just me, my model [and team], good music, good vibes and we create.
Whenever I’ve been shooting with someone new I think it’s important to dedicate time before jumping straight into the shoot to have a chat and get to know them so I can make sure we are both riding the same wave and are comfortable. Sometimes I go in with a plan, and sometimes I ditch the plan to just flow based on feelings at the time and then sometimes I just wing it all together. I try not to be too restrictive to my creativity when I’m in the moment. I want to create a memory that everyone can look back on and think, damn, that was a good day. I will shoot until I am satisfied I have the winning shot or a narrative built.
Music made me fall in love with this industry initially. I would photograph the local bands on my Sony Ericsson phone and edit them using free websites or the in-phone filters. When I got my first camera that’s when I began to experiment outside of music and really home in on my interests and passions. I loved the freedom of expression. I loved telling stories and building scenes and costumes. I don’t think I chose this; it chose me. I understand how cheesy that sounds but for me being creative has become not just a tool to build a career but it has become a way in which I live in this world. It’s my coping mechanism, it’s how I challenge my thoughts and feelings, it’s how I connect to people, and I will never turn my back on it.
How I got to where I am now and the challenges I faced: I began studying photography and art in college and started experimenting with styles and techniques. I was creating work that had fantasy elements, fantastical characters, woodland creatures, everything that was inspired by the media I was taking in at the time. I’ve always been a lover of 80s fantasy movies and folklore and for a very long time that’s where my style developed from.
From college to university I was becoming known for my fantasy/gothic, fashion portraits and my colour grading. How I capture mood and narrative through colour is something I have always prided myself on, but the subject matter was becoming stale very quickly to me. I felt trapped in a box for the longest time, not knowing where my path was taking me, not knowing what I truly wanted to do. I was doing what I thought people expected from me. Continuingly doing the thing that I knew I was good at. I tried to break away from it, taking influence from the people around me and making work on subject matters I thought were going to help me breakthrough, but again, it was subjects I wasn’t passionate about. I wasn’t connected to the work, but I didn’t know it yet. It wasn’t until I was working on my final major project on my Masters degree [MA fashion photography, LCF] where I was challenged about it by a PHD professor.
I showed my work of a recent shoot I had done that was a fun, comedic take on McDonald’s and its branding. He turned to me and said, ‘I don’t like it, I don’t get it’. Nobody had ever really said that to me before, so I took it personally. I’d had a rough day already and I had some guy who didn’t know me telling me he hated my work.He kept me there even though I wanted to storm out of the room. He used an entire whiteboard to write down notes linked with me my anxiety. He began by asking where it comes from, how it affected my work and if it could be something I make my work about. I thought he was stupid and rude at first but after a few days of self-reflection I realised he was right.
I wasn’t connected to my work. My work didn’t feel like a reflection of myself or my interests and from that point on I began making work for myself. Work that was so vulnerable and raw and turned into a cathartic experience. It became more than just photography. It became therapeutic. It was so obvious to everyone, but me, that this was the route I was going to take.
My biggest obstacle has always been myself and I think any artist struggles with self-doubt and not feeling good enough. I suffer with depression and anxiety and that has always been my biggest hurdle with anything I do in life, whilst also being the one thing that gives me the drive and chase after catharsis.
I still struggle a lot but it’s important to release whatever you are feeling. When I’m sad I write. That writing turns into ideas which then gets me out of a mental/creative block and when I fully execute a concept, I feel like I can move on from that struggle/trauma. I am also an introvert and as a photographer / videographer whose foundation is built on connections and teamwork. It has been a little rough but the best thing I found to do is to fake it til you make it.
Be friendly, lead with love, and get comfortable before you begin the job.
What’s great about being a female in my role: I choose to photograph and empower women. I can relate to my muses and give them a voice whilst also amplifying my own.
My biggest achievement in life came after graduating from my Master’s degree when I began to focus on starting a new series. I took everything I had learnt from my final project and expressing my emotions and feelings within my work. This series was more vulnerable to the world than ever before. I had shot my first images for it in early 2019 and I was so proud of the outcome. They got me my very first cover image in a magazine. It was such a humbling and proud moment for me. I was emotional over the fact that my first instalment of my series got this amount of recognition and I have it proudly framed on my wall as a constant reminder of the things I’ve overcome and what I’ve been put on this earth to do.
I also had the opportunity to photograph one of my favourite musicians, Roniit, over webcam during the early months of lockdown, which felt completely surreal with us being on two completely different continents. It has always been a dream of mine to photograph artists I love – especially since music is where my whole story began.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt along the way is that it’s okay to want everything to be perfect but don’t let your perfectionism limit your ambitions. Write in that journal you’re too scared to ruin. Use that new medium you’ve always wanted to use in your drawing without feeling the need to be a master at it. Don’t over analyse your work and pick out imperfections after you’ve shared it with the world. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re missing out on opportunities because you think you’re not ready. You’re never going to be ready. We will always make mistakes and it’s okay to fail. Learn from them.
My favourite hobbies: I love watching movies, going to the cinema, playing games, going to concerts and reading. I love anything that can provide escapism. Something where I can be captivated by a story or get lost in another world. Every single one of these pastimes are an integral part of my workflow – they help me get inspired and think of new ways to elevate my own work. I always imagine my work being shown on the big screens or having its own original score and in-depth characters that viewers can connect to. I love to draw; I’m always drawing concepts for photoshoots and I’m always drawing some kind of badass woman. I’ve also recently been getting back into film photography, and I now scan and convert my own negatives which is super fun
The mantra I live by is ‘Too weird to live, too rare to die’. It’s a famous quote from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. To me it means that people may never understand me. They may judge me for my work, my ideas, who I am and although it may hurt, and I may feel like I don’t belong anywhere there is only one of me. I’m too rare to die, too rare to give up now.
The three tips I would give to young females starting their careers would be to stay true to who you are. Bite the bullet. Don’t take sh*t
One woman who has impacted my life: Hana Zebzabi. Now this is a woman that knows what she wants and will do everything to get it. Hana is a young, female photographer and aspiring director and what I like to call an all-round-creative! I was a fan of Hana’s work from early on in her journey and I always admired her ability to capture women of all backgrounds, tell stories and her colour palette screamed Hollywood movie sets. Not only is she an amazing artist but she’s a wonderful human being dedicated to spreading knowledge, love and art. She is the founder of Divurgent Workshops, a London based photography and model workshop, and I had the opportunity to attend the very first workshop. I can’t even put into words how grateful I was to have been given a chance to attend this workshop and meet Hana. It was the first time I’d ever worked with a bunch of strangers and as an introvert it was very out of my comfort zone. I was photographing models in locations and direct sunlight that I would never have thought to do before but have been doing continuously ever since and the advice, confidence, and encouragement I received from that day goes unmatched to anything I’ve ever experienced. Since then, I have assisted Hana on set multiple times, helped out at Divurgent and continued being in absolute awe over this outstanding woman. She is now working on a series to tell her story of her British / Moroccan heritage and spreading awareness and knowledge about her culture and how it is to be a Muslim woman, which is inspiring to Muslim communities and people outside that faith alike. Without Hana, I don’t think I would be as confident as I am today about my work and my ideas and I am forever thankful to exist in the same lifetime as her.
What motivates me when it comes to photography is being around other people that are creative and seeing them winning at what they do. It’s very inspiring and motivating seeing others making their own art and chasing their dreams, it makes me hungry to chase my own. Being able to talk to one another about our ideas and our work means we can hype each other up and create a buzz.
Also, my own dreams and goals. I am always writing them down so I can stay focused on them and manifest. I have so many aspirations both big and small and knowing that nobody but you made it happen is so rewarding. I also love to prove people wrong. All my life I’ve been told by many people that I would never amount to anything; that it was stupid to chase my dream of being an artist (people would say ‘why don’t you just get a real job?’) or my dreams were too big to achieve. I’m out here proving them wrong every single day and it is bliss.
The best piece of advice I’ve been give is to make work for yourself and nobody else. If you stay true to who you are people will gravitate to you. Don’t clout chase, don’t do things for quick success. Money is a reward, not a reason why. Stop comparing and begin understanding. Be confident in your work and don’t be afraid to chase dreams and opportunities, because if you’re not confident, someone who is will get them instead. Use the mental state you’re in to it’s best purpose:
Happy? Build and Give
Sad? Research and Become Inspired
Anxious? Analyse Steps and Find Solutions
Doubtful? Reflect on What Worked and What Didn’t
Be transparent. Give love always.
I would tell my 16-year old self that even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, you’re on a path to greatness and so many people are going to fall in love with the work you make. You’re going to surprise yourself with the many talents you have, and you are going to move away from the small town you feel stuck in right now and go make something of yourself. You’re just starting college right now and you are finally going to study topics that interest you and people will question you for it but don’t listen to them. Explore your creativity and stay true to yourself. There are going to be people that come into your life to try and dim the spark you have and make you feel like you’re not good enough. They will try and control you, but you are too much of a force to be trapped in a cage. You will get through it and come out stronger and they won’t even mean anything to you anymore. You will treasure these years flourishing in creativity with your family, especially your granddad. It’s going to get dark and there’s going to be times where you think there’s no way out of this darkness but it’s only going to fuel you. So many things are going to suck but I promise you that your work matters. It will one day give people an opportunity, a safe space to talk about their feelings. It’s going to connect you with so many awesome people and you will find your voice and you will make you proud.
Maybe try and keep your negatives in better condition and invest in a hard drive early on so in the future you can still have access to your old photos… and don’t create work under an alias name – Your work deserves to be under your real name. Wear it proud!
Something I would like to add is that I’m currently working on my new series which is going to be the most vulnerable I’ve ever been in my work and a lot bigger production wise. I’m looking forward to the future and watching the next chapter of my story unfold.