Los Angeles-based photographer Brandon Stanciell was born in Los Angeles and raised in Palmdale, California. After a brief spell at College of the Canyons, Stanciell dabbled with student jobs before finding his feet firmly behind the camera.
As Stanciell carved out a reputation for diverse, authentic casting coupled with intimate and colourful portraiture, a succession of interviews and features with Urban Outfitters, Huffington Post, Vogue Italia, Dynamic Africa, House of Aama, UCSD Art Gallery followed. Somehow, Stanciell still found time for The Man Who Loved Flowers — a solo exhibition at Open mind Art Space gallery in March 2016 — and to release his first portrait book earlier this year, "Here Take These".
With his unique and distinc vision, the LA-based photographer redefines black masculinity through colourful and eclectic imagery using nature and flowers as the main prop.
During a trip to the west coast this summer, we met with him in a friend's garden in Silver Lake and decided to reverse the roles. Helped by Marie-Elaine, our go-to stylist, we pulled up a wooden chair, designed an entire set with flowers freshly bought from the Flower District, Downtown LA, and shot him. An hommage to "The-Man-Who-Loved-Flowers" himself. We sat down with him to learn about the process behind his distinct imagery.
Photography and interview by Mallory Lowe
Set design by Marie-Elaine Gagné
M: Who/ what has inspired you? Who are your biggest influences?
BS: Most of my biggest influences are Painters/Friends that I've come across during this photo journey. A couple of my biggest influences are Kerry James Marshall and Roy Walker.
M: Why photography?
BS: Photography is just something that came naturally I guess. I've got bad memory so I would always photograph things to remind myself and when it came to portraying my own vision, photography was the easiest way to do so.
M: Flowers (and people of color, especially black men), consistently show up in your photography, can you tell us more about it? What does your work aim to say?
BS: The flowers with me started from a poem I came across by Shel Silverstein by the name of Thinker of Tender Thoughts... My work aims to say that black men are more than what society has chalked us up to be. We are not "thugs", we are not "animals", we are beings too and just as sensitive as everyone else...
M: What material do you use?
BS: I use a 35mm Point & Shoot film camera and a Medium Format Camera to photograph all my work!
M: You've been assisting other photographers for already few years now, how assisting have contributed to your growth as a photographer?
BS: I think it has contributed a lot! I'm a film photographer and the photographer I assist is on the digital Commercial photography world so it's great to learn and see how different the two worlds can be. I've definitively learned a lot of my etiquette from assisting.
M: What would be your dream collaboration?
BS: The Man Who Loved Flowers x Saint Heron!
M: The birth of digital in the 1970's left analogue in the grainy dust, but some professional photographers still shoot in film. Why did you make that choice?
BS: I found myself mindlessly shooting photos when I was shooting digitally several years ago. I wanted to give myself a challenge and also wanted to focus more on the subject and the body around the subject than the settings on the camera so I sold my digital equipment and switched to film. It was something about the feel, the process and the look it had that kept me shooting film... I'm broke but addicted! lol
M: What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve looked at recently?
BS: I was just at the No Sesso fashion show last weekend at the Getty and that was probably the most beautiful thing I've witnessed all year...
M: Tell us something we don't know about you!
BS: I'm a twin! Haha most people don't know this.
M: Can't live without?
BS: I know it sounds cliché but I can't live without music. I feel like I have a soundtrack for every day.
M: What do you plan to do next? Do you have any other photo series/project in mind?
BS: I plan on continuing to shoot work for my next solo show (hopefully at the end of this year)!
M: What advices would you give to younger photographers?
BS: KEEP SHOOTING, you never know where it might take you :)
M: You've recently published your first portrait book, " Here, take these", what are you trying to convey?
BS: "Here, Take These" was the portrait series that I started to translate my creative vision. In it, I found myself and who I wanted to become as an artist... Taking the words literally, I wanted to close a chapter in my work and move on to the next and publishing that book was my way of doing it. The book, to me, was like a bouquet of flowers and I was giving them to whoever wanted it. "Here, Take These!"