Not that she needs any introduction, here is our very own, the fabulous Brandi in the latest installment of the Q&A photographer series!

Chris: Let’s start with a little bio, tell me about yourself.

Brandi: I grew up in a small town in Northeast Nebraska…like 800 people small. Everyone knew EVERYONE and that is where I met my future husband, Tim. We started “dating” when I was 14 and have been together ever since. We have molded into this completely compatible duo that I don’t think people would ever expect. He is reserved and quiet and I am, what I like to refer as, “OOF”(Out Of Focus)…most of the time. After graduating high school, we both attended the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where I first majored in Interior Design but then changed to Hotel and Restaurant Management with a focus on Event and Meeting Planning. Tim was a year ahead of me in school and graduated/commissioned into the Army before I could finish my degree, but before he did, we got married in Jamaica with 30 of our closest friends and family in attendance. After he was done with school we were PCS’d to Ft. Benning, GA. You know the song “Way Down Yonder on the Chattahoochee?”…yup, I lived there. We called Columbus, GA home for almost a year before we PCS’d to Fort Riley, KS. About two weeks after we moved to Manhattan, Tim was deployed to Iraq. I knew it was coming and with the help of my amazing friends, I made it through the hardest time of my life to date. I transferred all of my college credits to K-State and with slight hesitation slipped on the purple and became a Wildcat (Don’t worry, I bleed Husker Red…or Crimson if you want to get technical). Now, from the time I was in junior high, I have always had at least one job, usually two and I pride myself on my work ethic. I have a younger sister, Morgan, who will be attending college in the fall and an amazing relationship with my parents. I am the proud aunt of the CUTEST baby girl and wish I could see her and Tim’s sister and brother in law much more than we do. I have a fur child, Jezebelle, and she is the cutest ugly dog I could ever fall in love with. I plan to graduate in the spring and can’t even imagine what the next few years will be like…in a good, OOF kind of way.

Chris: How did you become a photographer?

Brandi: One evening, when I was a sophomore in college, Tim asked me what I REALLY wanted to do as a career…and even though at the time I was obviously confused and frustrated with difficulties of changing my major, I knew the answer. I had always really known the answer, I just really didn’t think it was realistic. I wanted to be a professional photographer. Period. He asked why I didn’t pursue my aspirations and why I hadn’t majored in Photography at UNL, I replied with a simple, “I was scared.” I was scared of failing, of the pressures of money and lack of knowledge…just a plain coward. Literally a week later, I received a package in the email, it was a Nikon D50. Yes, not the most up to date piece of equipment; however, I was novice enough to be blown away with the effort and care Tim had put into surprising me. Man, he is just so amazing. To be honest though, I barely touched the thing. I was again, intimidated by the thought of learning the craft and busy enough with work and school to get away with using them as an excuse not to learn. Two years later, after we moved to Georgia, I really had no excuse and decided to take a community course. I learned some of the basics and even shot one o my best friend’s engagement photos; however, I was nowhere near ready to be called a photographer. After we moved to Manhattan, my crash course into photography accelerated dramatically. It’s kind of a crazy story. I was looking for a job and visited Career and Employment Services on K-State campus. There, I was introduced to Chris after I had mentioned that I had an interest in assisting local photographers. BEST, MOST RANDOM COINCIDENCE EVER. We met in the K-State union and chatted about the right way to go about learning more about photography. He actually told me right then that local photographers, in general, don’t hire assistants. Ha. (It was actually at this very point when I met Rik Andes of Rik Andes Photography, he was meeting Chris in the union as well.) Chris told me about APW and invited me to attend the next workshop. I was able to shadow Chris for a month and a half before he was planning to move to Brooklyn and it was literally four days before he left that he asked if I would join La Brisa. HECK YES. It has been a learning process but I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have had in the last year…our La Brisa clients ROCK!!!

Chris: Why should I book you as a photographer?

Brandi: I care. Like, A LOT about my clients. I will do anything to make them happy…I have fallen out of trees, traveled four hours, waken up at 2:00 AM and laid in so much grass/mud/dirt/gravel that I could develop my own line of laundry detergent. I have the scars, mileage and stains to prove it. I know I am new to the photography scene but I couldn’t imagine life without it. I get such a natural high when I discover that I client has used a photo I have made as their profile photo on the book or printed them and displayed them in their home. I have never been so proud of myself.

Chris: How would you describe your style?

Brandi: Truthful. I work to get the images that are most representational of the clients, exactly the way they are. I am very flexible and am up for any suggestions or requests from clients and aspire to satisfy them with my style of photography. 

Chris: If you have to pick your favorite piece of equipment, what would it be and why?

Brandi: I recently purchased a Canon 7D and couldn’t be happier with its capabilities, but I have had the chance to work with a variety of different lenses and can say that the Canon 135L is the butter to my bread. It is SMOOTH. I can always depend on it to give me the cleanest images and again I am so grateful to have the chance to use it. 

Chris: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?

Brandi: Photography is expensive; I get it, but don’t stop yourself from doing something you love because you can’t afford the best right away. I was scared when I started, plain and simple, but I shouldn’t have let that fear stop me from doing what I love.

Check out some of Brandi’s recent favorites!

I had just received a package in the mail and through pure gratefulness and surprise I took a few photos of what was inside. I truly cannot say enough about the blessings and opportunities I have been given while finding my journey in photography and much of that appreciation is directed to my “boss” or associate, Chris. He has sent me a box of amazingly terrific gelato and it goes to show genuinely what king of person he is. Thanks, Chris.

I had the honor of photographing the family of Angie Davis recently and absolutely adored their relationship dynamics. I wanted to really capture the brother/sister relationship along with the presence and security of mom and dad. 

Julianne is a dear friend of mine and this photo is from her engagement session. I just love everything about the shot. Their interaction, expression and the total “realness” of her moving her hair away from her face. Love it. Love them. 

Carey Jarvis is a recent 2010 senior that I had the pleasure of making photos for. She is an absolutely gorgeous girl, and I can’t say enough about how much I love this shot. A bit attitude, a bit of mystery and a bunch of beauty…love it.

The Olsen family has been Chris’ amazing clients for well over a year now and when he moved to New York I was happy to fill in and make photos of their adorable family. This is a photo from a session they booked with Chris and I tagged along. First of all, they are a gorgeous couple and you can really see the joy in their expressions. I think I’m on to something with this honesty in photography thing, real emotion just can’t be faked and the photos I favor focus on those emotions. Or at least that is what I aspire to capture.

This little gem is a photo of my niece, Mia Jane. She is just my favorite and as happy as I am to photograph her, I also find it as quite a challenge. I have so so soo many expectations for myself and I try so hard to get the “perfect” photo for her mom and dad…and of course Grandma Kathy, so I get so excited when capturing moments like this, her, an obviously genuine smile and a bit of catch light in her eyes. That is the thing about photographing babies, they can’t fake emotions. I think that is my goal in photography, to encourage real, truthful emotion. Wow, that got deep real quick.

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