Brandon J. St. Jean Q&A
Brandon J. St. Jean talks photography with The Black Gaze.
The Black gaze shows the importance and perspective of art and influence through Black individuals. It’s unapologetic in staying true to how our culture views and interprets ourselves.
How does this relate to your photography practice?
This relates to my photography practice by showing the raw and creative side of us. I think it’s important to not only show the strong and creative side of us, but also the fun and unexpected side as well. A good balance.
What do you want to say or address with your photography?
What I aim to say with my photography is that we are a very diverse culture and I want to show more sides of that than the typical things people expect.
What influences and inspires you? How is this reflected in your work?
Music and movies are a heavy inspiration for me. I grew up with both and I usually try to tie them in with my portraits and editorials. Magazines were also a big inspiration for my style, I used to flip through them when I was younger and admire the imagery. I pull a lot of inspiration from the past century regarding style and the things mentioned above.
Who are your favourite Black photographers from the past? Why?
My favourite Black photographers from the past as of right now are Chi Modu and Louis Mendes. Chi Modu is iconic (R.I.P). When I discovered he was the photographer behind some of the most iconic hip hop images of all time it blew my mind. I loved his techniques.
Louis Mendes is an old school photographer that still hangs around in Manhattan near B&H. You can probably still catch him there till this day. When I first started out in photography, I would walk the streets taking street photos. I came across Louis and he was standing there with his giant polaroid camera. I was shocked that someone still used those till this day as everything was going digital. It inspired me to know that no matter the age, you still can do what you love.
Please describe the highs and lows of your experience as a Black photographer?
The highs that I have gained being a Black photographer is seeing the support and love from fellow Black photographers and artist. It’s embracing and I try to give back as much as I can. Shining a light on other Black artists is also a plus.
The lows that I have experienced were seeing the hurdles of getting where I want to go with my art. I did not believe it was that difficult until I was in that position of trying to achieve a goal but having to do extra just to get there.
What work are you producing and what more would you like to do?
Although I do a lot of portraits, my main love is doing editorials. I love the creative process of editorials and being able to work with a team to create a scene and story. I would like to do more editorials on a bigger scale and even have some in magazines and billboards.
About Brandon J. St. Jean
Brandon J. St. Jean is a Brooklyn-based photographer whose focuses on capturing a moment in time, whether it’s portraiture, live music photography, or just catching the perfect light. As an emerging photographer, Brandon has been commissioned by a variety of local and international people and events.
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The Q&A is an ongoing discussion open to Black photographers of all ages, genders and genres.