Welcome to the first Friday Friend Features of the new year! If you are new to Friday Friend Features, it is essentially a series on my blog where I share some questions and answers with another online influencer who I believe holds unique and inspirational value on his or her platform. In general, the interviewees are individuals I have met in real life and/or have interacted with online, but I do love to branch out. Oh yeah, and all of the interviews are posted on Friday!
This interview is incredibly special since the special guest is Brandon, a Portland-based photographer with a gorgeous portfolio (@brandonbphoto on Instagram) and colorful vegan food feed (@veganbran on Instagram), and the first male feature on the blog! He is an individual who is beyond incredible with an impressive plethora of passions, dreams, and values. Though most of my readers and friends online are female, it’s so important to showcase all types of perspectives and lifestyles. Despite our differences, we can all learn from anyone and anything.
I really want to thank Brandon for taking the time to partake in this interview with me and for sharing such wonderful responses. It is such an honor to introduce Without any more delay, here is the interview with Brandon!
I just wanted to show off my new camera bag @vanguardworld 💼 But honestly, now I can do so much more exploring with this bag + @alessandrataryn and I are twins now. Decided to go for a beautiful sunset walk/photoshoot at the top of this inactive volcano in the middle of Portland. It didn’t disappoint. Adventure is always out there. ✨🙌🏼 xx
- Welcome to the blog, Brandon! Would you like to introduce yourself in one or two sentences?
- Thanks for having me! I’m a 21 year old, vegan, photographer based in Portland, OR. I shoot mainly portraits, but I really love to photograph food as well!
It’s an amazing feeling to find a rainbow at the end of your journey 🌈 I always seem to find some sort of synchronicity wherever I go. In this case, we were late to get to this spot, we thought it was going to be dark already by the time we got there. In return, we were greeted to a beautiful vibrant rainbow that let me know I was in the right place, because the photos that came next surprised me about my own abilities! This shot makes me super happy! 🌲🌈✨
- What is the story behind your Instagram account? How has it grown and evolved since you started it?
- My Instagram actually started as an account that one of my best friends and I shared. We posted our fresh fruits, veggies, and daily food! After probably a year, she ended up splitting from the account because she lost interest in the constant posting. From there I began to grow my love for photographing food! I took more time prepping food and styling it (very badly at the beginning). It’s changed a lot though! My love for photography has always stayed the same, but its become more experimental with adventure photography and portraits! How I went from food to humans, I have no idea!
- When you were first stepping into social media, your main focus was food, health, and veganism. Why did you choose the vegan lifestyle, and what consequences (good and/or bad) have come of it?
- Yes! Veganism changed my life completely! After (almost) 4 years of awareness, I can 100% say it is, and always was, for the animals. There’s so much to be said about the current state of animal enslavement, and veganism was my tunnel to activism. There were so many benefits that came to me including overcoming my eating disorder, helping me to become more social, and having the active compassion teaching me to become patient, loving, and kind.
- Okay, I always have to ask a fun food-related question. Describe what a full day of eating would like for you if you could access any type of food or restaurant from anywhere around the world (i.e. you could eat at a local L.A., N.Y.C., or even local Chiang Mai place in Portland!) in an instant (also, money and transportation wouldn’t be an issue!).
- This is probably the toughest decision ever, but here it goes. Breakfast would be freshly baked (still warm in your hands) donuts from Doe Donuts, which is technically in Portland and technically a Postmates order away, however it counts! If brunch were in order, I would definitely be sitting in Virtuous Pie (Portland) eating the best vegan breakfast sandwiches that exist. Lunch would definitely include eating a Banh Mi at Real Food Daily in LA. Dinner would bring us BACK to Portland, to eat at Harlow, where I would be eating my favorite menu item, the Chipotle Chili Bowl filled with rice, beans, and steamed kale! And you can’t leave out dessert, which would hands down be Cocobella in LA. I’m an ice cream kind of boy.
- Just a few months ago, you made a big leap by switching your Instagram emphasis from food to photography. Was it a daunting change?
- I wouldn’t say it was necessarily a change of food to photography, more so a love for photography that had me change my subjects to humans + nature! I actually completed Dana’s (Minimalist Baker) online food photography course, which was the moment that I decided I wanted to apply her methods on portaits and other types of photography. It was quite a daunting task, only due to the fact that everyone knew me as the boy that takes photos of food, so once I started posting different content, people started to scratch their heads as to why! For me, it was applying my newfound knowledge to more stimulating work.
- Your feed is absolutely stunning! When taking pictures, do you follow a strategy? How do you shoot, select, and edit photos?
- Thank you so much! My strategy is usually having an overall goal or shot in mind, but never forcing anything! I like to take my time, try new angles, and play with lighting! I shoot from perspectives that I find visually appealing or interesting. I usually shoot around 200-300 for a short shoot, and only end up editing 10-15, which I edit with Lightroom presets that I’ve created! Lighting is extremely crucial for me, because I only use natural light! I also look for good composition and color theory that looks aesthetically pleasing.
- Another commonality that you have with a lot of others is your love for traveling! Out of all the places you have traveled to, which destination do you think you gained/learned the most from?
- Traveling is life! I think the most rewarding experience I had was in Thailand. It was my first real international trip and I came back having gained new friendships, perspectives, self love, and an intense fire to create. I was daily vlogging for my youtube channel and posting content on Instagram, which helped me to understand what my passions were. I will never forget my experiences in Thailand and how, 7 months later, it would still affect decisions I make today.
- Besides an ethical vegan, you also consider yourself a minimalist. What does minimalism mean to you?
- Minimalism, to me, is decluttering one’s life through only owning things that have meaning to you, ethically purchasing/sourcing, and actively being conscious about consumerism. I do not believe you need to get rid of all of your stuff, but to just be mindful of what you’re buying, how you’re buying it, and the reason you’re buying it. I can admit I got rid of a lot of my possessions that no longer served me, but it left a blank canvas for me to truly see what I have in my life.
- Would you say you’ve learned most of what you know now from the advice of others, or from independent experience? Do you think one is better than the other?
- I think both options are valuable and needed. I am a lone soul, walking earth experiencing and learning everyday. I’ve been independent since I could walk. I, personally, had to grow up really fast, forcing me to be more responsible at a younger age. I can definitely say I’ve learned a lot from others, however most of my best growing is finding it out for myself.
- Finally, do you have any advice for those who are struggling with labels and finding their passions? It seems to be a very common problem that teenagers, young adults, and even middle-aged adults face at least once in their lifetime.
- As a queer, minimalist, vegan, I can let you know that theres no escaping labels. It’s letting them define you which is the problem. Your actions are not your labels. I found my passions through my labels and fears. Instead of hiding from them, I embraced them. I told myself I could never be a photographer because I couldn’t capture what everyone else saw, but I didn’t realize that it was about my perspective, not theirs. Relinquish your fears, and a world of possibility opens up.
Please don’t forget to check out both of Brandon’s Instagram accounts linked below!
Read the previous Friday Friend Features here!