Brandon Haynes

New York City, New York

How did you get your start with photography?

I started taking photos in 2009 after a dear friend showed me some of her photography from an art class and I was amazed by the behind the scenes work that went into it. She walked me through the process of how to manually set up a photo and them develop it in a darkroom. I found the idea of creating something that would never be the same again beautiful. Putting in the work to capture a split second in time felt like creating a work of art. It is now how I see everything I photograph.

How would you describe your photography style?

I would say my style is a minimalist documentary. The goal is for me to capture a definitive photograph of a person, a scene, or whatever it may be at that particular moment, while not overthinking the approach. Capturing true moments that tell a story for the viewer.

Where do you draw inspiration for your photos?

I draw inspiration from my environment. I am inspired by a song, a shape, a person I see on the train - you name it, I take it in.

How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?

I read blogs, trade books and magazine to keep myself educated on what's new. I always view my work with a critical eye and reach out to mentors and peers when I have issue or need advice.

On fun projects:

A fun project for me was shooting the musician Sharon Jones. She is a small lady but has so much energy and was great to photograph. Her personality is so infectious. If you were having a bad day a moment with her would change your spirits. She lighted the whole room when I shot her.

Which photographers influenced you and how did they influence your thinking, photo taking and career path?

Jonathan Mannion, Kareem Black and Matthew Salacuse are big influences. With Mannion, I grew up on his photography and just had a appreciation for the work and always saw his work as being true to himself and the art. His work basically became the blueprint for what I wanted to do. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Black and was exposed to a vast amount of techniques and information while working in the field with him that I would not have been be able to discover on my own. Salacuse helped me find my identity as a photographer. I had the opportunity to show him my work and he provided me with guidance on the path of what my niche as a photographer should be. He told me to "shoot what you love and specialize in what you excel at".

What are some of the challenges you face as a photographer?

My challenges as a photographer - or having a creative mind in general - is that I am my worst critic and I am never quite sure if my work is good enough. I am always scrutinizing and adjusting and trying to perfect my craft. But I've come to realize there needs to be a checks and balances. You want to progress creatively as an artist but also want to stay consistent in the work you present and the brand you build.

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

One thing I wish I knew when I began to take the craft seriously is “do what you love.”  Initially I would shoot anything and it would lead to a lot of short comings artistically on my end.  I would have an artistic expression but no style or identity.  All the work I shot in the beginning wasn’t a true representation of myself but more so what I felt others wanted from me.  It led to a lot of frustration as I was trying to find my voice within the art form. Once I realized I began to shoot what I enjoyed in the manner I wanted to. I started to excel in the work I produced.  Shoot what you love, learn all the rules, break the rules, take inspiration from others, and be true to you.

On upcoming projects:

Yes, I am working on a passion project titled "Film Love." Over the years I have been shooting rolls and rolls of film and never had them developed. I recently started to develop these rolls and love what is coming out. It reminds me of why started taking photos in the first place. So I am creating a series to showcase my love for film based photography by developing the over a 100 rolls of film that I have around my apartment. The collection of film covers my beginning as a photographer and shows my progression to now.

What quote or motto do you live your life by?

"Blood, Sweat, and Respect. The first two you give and the last one you earn." -Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

For more on Brandon, please visit and follow on social media at @bhanyesphoto