atlas

creative and inspiring photography from around the globe

Brian Flaherty: Capturing a Culture One Shot at a Time

Brian Flaherty is a San Francisco-based photographer. A former architect, Brian enjoys portraiture, landscape, and street photography. His works have been featured in the Daily Mail, Feature Shoot, and My Modern Met among others. Brian is also an experienced commercial photographer — his clients include Another Escape, Everlane,  Marriott Hotels, San Francisco Magazine, and Taylor Stitch. This week Brian talks to atlas about how he got started in photography, how he turned it into a full time career, and how he captured these beautiful images from his three week trip to Peru last fall. (Editor’s Note: Enjoy one of our favorite features — a stunning photography series on Peru — from Brian Flaherty!)

How did you first get interested in photography?

Brian Flaherty: I can recall being interested in taking photos from a pretty early age first with disposable cameras and early digital point and shoots. But it was not until I took my first black & white darkroom class in college that I started really getting into it. It was such a great experience to shoot, develop, and make prints in the darkroom. I really fell in love with that process and I think it it what really got me hooked on photography.

Are you self-taught or do you have a formal education in photography?

Aside from that darkroom class and another digital photo class in college, I’m self-taught.

Do you do photography full-time? If so, how did you turn it into a full time career?

I have been shooting full-time since late last year. I still feel like I am in the process of turning photography into a career. Things are headed in the right direction, but there is still lots of work to do. As far as how I am doing it, there really is not a straightforward answer as it is different for everyone. But I think the best thing to focus on is making beautiful photos. That is always my top priority and it happens to be what I love to do. Consistently making good work slowly builds the confidence you need to put your work out there and in front of the people you want to work for. It is a long haul and takes patience but if the work is good, it will pay off.

Your photos from Peru – from the landscapes to the portraits — are beautiful and striking. What inspired you to travel to Peru? When did you go and for how long?

My wife and I made a three week trip to Peru last fall. it was a place we had been wanting to go — the food, the culture, the landscapes, all of it was drawing us in. I knew there would be lots of great people and landscapes to shoot, but also lots of interesting things in between that you can not really plan for. I did not have a very clear idea of what I was hoping to bring back. I guess my plan was to shoot whatever caught my eye and then watch the story emerge in the editing process.

Did you encounter any challenges while shooting in Peru?

It was pretty easy shooting there. Most of the people we encountered were open to being photographed. I think the most difficult thing for me was just adjusting to the high altitude.

How do you see your work evolving over the next 2-3 years?

My hope is for a consistent aesthetic over a variety of subject matter. That said, the people and places you shoot can often influence how you shoot so I want to be open to new ways of seeing, however they come.

If you could go on a photo shoot with any photographer (dead or alive), who would it be and why?

This is a tough one. I think I would like to watch Avedon shoot portraits, specifically how he directs his subjects. I have heard some interesting stories about that.

If you had one piece of advice for a novice photographer, what would it be?

Keep shooting as much as you can, take lots and lots of photos. Trust your instincts and allow your own unique style to emerge slowly over time.

Thanks for being our featured photographer of the week, Brian!

For more information about Brian, visit his website. All images  © Brian Flaherty.

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