The Black & White Explorations of Brian Day
In the five years since this magazine opened it’s doors, I have had the privilege of meeting and being inspired by hundreds, if not thousands, of photographers. There are many great photographers that consistently produce great works time and time again. But there is one who stands out as having a complete and unified portfolio, a personal stamp that makes any of his photographs easily identifiable even if his name isn’t associated with the photo. That photographer would be Brian Day, who has not only inspired other photographers but has inspired the next generation of photographers. In black & white, Brian has few equals and those that do have had books written about them.
I first discovered Brian on Flickr as he uploaded some of his earlier works to our group pool. It was his ongoing Time Traveler series that had me captivated from day one. It is a self portrait series featuring Brian in a number of situations and locations wearing a suit, a fedora and carrying a briefcase. Many of the photos introduced a surreal juxtaposition of the sharply dressed man in dark, steamy alleyways, dilapidated buildings or even in vacant lots. Interestingly, you never saw the time traveler’s face, at least not square on. Perhaps that added to the mystery. The series is quite successful, in my opinion. There is a common thread through the entire series that extends well beyond the self portraiture itself. Take him out of each one of those photos in the series, and the photo could still stand alone as a fantastic composition. So it was only natural that Brian started exploring other topics. These days, the self portraits still add a great deal to the mix, but he explores street photography, portraiture, architecture and urban exploration, just to name a few of his specialties. But even as you look upon his other works, even if the Time Traveler is nowhere to be found, you can still tell that it’s a Brian Day photograph.
It’s the way Brian handles black & white. His black & white photographs have a quality that you wouldn’t expect from digital. That is a nod to his attention to detail. His black & white photos have the finish and quality you would expect from film. There is a great detail of contrast and dynamic range in every single one of his photographs, but the finish is soft and warm. Combined with his great compositions and his eye for interesting subjects, his body of work is awe inspiring. Brian truly is an artist first, a photographer second.
I’ve been wanting to feature Brian here at Shutter Photo for years. From the time I first discovered his Time Traveller series, to the time he took second place in a competition we held in 2011 and on through the many times his work has been featured in our Common Photo Themes articles; I’ve been watching. Part of me would have featured him a long time ago. But his skills and his work kept growing bolder and more refined. His work continues to grow and he continues to hone his craft, but I finally pulled the trigger because I don’t want any of you to miss out on Brian’s journey. So look back at his incredible body of work and appreciate it for what it is. But his arc is still moving upwards and I expect it to continue to do so for many years to come. So you have plenty more of his work ahead to mesmerize and inspire you.
Brian Day has a presence all over the web. We discovered him on Flickr first but you can also find him on 500px (with one of the highest “Affection Scores” you’ve ever seen), Tumblr and Google+. If you happen to be in the Detroit area, you might even be able to catch his work at an exhibition, of which he’s had a few. So you can choose how you get it, but you’ll be inspired by Brian and his work regardless of where you get it.