Youth is gift often wasted by a lot of people but Brendan Carroll is not one of them. This young photographer shares with us some sage advice on top of his film memories and experiences as a budding creative. He is part of the 25 young photographers that Lomography has spotted and saw great talent in. Read on to know more about him and his work.
Name: Brendan Carroll
What's the earliest memory that stuck with you when you were a kid? What do you think were you doing back then.
I grew up spending a lot of time on a small lake in Michigan about 3.5 hours outside of Chicago. One of my earliest memories had to be at about 3 years old during the summer time. I remember I had just fallen asleep on the couch with my mom to an episode of Tales From The Crypt. I woke up to a huge bang that lit up the sky with red light. I went outside and looked at the lake to see what was going on. All of the houses had their TV’s on and the lake was alive.
People were jumping in the water, celebrating on the piers, and lighting fireworks. Everyone was going crazy because The Chicago Bulls were about to win their third Championship. The feeling of celebration and unity amongst everyone on the lake felt magical; I wanted to be apart of it. We went back inside, turned on the game and watched them win the title.
When and how did you get into photography? What made you fall in love with the medium?
My older brother had a camera in High School. He would go to house shows and take pictures of him and his friends. I was inspired by the culture, his photos, and photo books he had on 70’s and 80’s music photography. Instagram and college boredom were huge in getting me out and actually shooting. I lived in an apartment with a big bay window over one of the busiest streets in Chicago. I didn’t have cable so I would sit at the window and just watch people go by. The street was always bustling and I had a front row view.
I liked telling stories of what I saw out the window but something was missing. I had to find a way to document everything so people would believe everything I was seeing. Shooting on the street just felt right. Wherever I go I try to keep a camera on me at all times, it keeps me curious and helps me slow things down.
Any early memory about film photography or film cameras back in the 90's?
Growing up, my family was always shooting with disposable cameras. I think we may have had a Polaroid too but my memories are flooded with the sound of spinning that plastic advance wheel on a disposable. It seemed like any big moment or special event there was always a disposable ready. I remember that feeling of adventure when finding a loose disposable misplaced somewhere around the house and realizing there were more shots left on the camera. There was something about them being relatively cheap and easy to use that as a kid they gave me a lot of freedom to play and explore with photography. Picking up the prints at the drugstore was another experience all in its own. I’m still as impatient as I was back then but that time In between taking the picture and seeing the image is magical. You relive the memory in your head and imagine how the photo is going to look over and over again, that rush is one of the reasons why I still shoot film today.
Many believe now that our generation's real adult-age is when we hit mid-20's. As a young photographer working as a professional, what were the struggles and challenges you encountered or continuously encountering?
One of the most difficult struggles is not spending the majority of my efforts on personal projects I’m passionate about, it’s really easy to get caught up and sidetracked in this industry. As a young artist, you create strong work and are given offers that seem like great opportunities you can’t pass up. Those gigs are perfect on paper, come with security, but sacrifice your creativity, time, and they steer you away from creating the work that got you hired in the first place. Everyone’s situation is different but when your 20’s are winding down you have to start thinking strategically about the path you're setting up for yourself. I still have a long way to go but I’ve come to realize time is everything when you’re young. It takes constant self-pep talks, but you just have to keep spending the majority of your time chasing what feels right and ignoring the rest. It’s corny but you have be ok with asking yourself would rather live on your feet or die on knees and be ok with the sacrifices.
There's always a pro and con. What are the advantages of being young in the photography field that you've experienced so far?
A major pro for me has been being young in the Internet age. The online photography communities are really special to me. From apps like VSCO and Instagram to Tumblr, Pinterest, and Flickr to great blogs and websites like Lomography. I feel closer to some of my online photographer friends that I’ve never even meet than I do to some family members. There’s a real benefit to being able to talk so easily with someone who makes sense of the world the same way you do. I’m a believer that you are a product of the people and environment you spend time in. People are seriously interested in each other, they want to exchange stories, help each other out, and collaborate. The community thrives together and pushes everyone to keep creating and trying new things.
Do you have any photography master or artist who you look up to? Who is it?
Moni Haworth has been a huge inspiration for me. I used to check her blog Johnny’s Bird almost daily to see if she put up a new post. When I first started shooting, I reached out to her not thinking she would reply. I sent her digitals from my first roll of film, let her know how much her work meant to me, and told her that she inspired me to shoot. She wrote back a within a day or two sharing her thoughts on my work, giving me thanks, and some words of wisdom. It was at was huge boost for me, I still think about it often. I also look up to a lot of the greats Art Shay, Martin Parr, Joel Meyerowitz, Helmut Newton, Michael Wolf, and Vivian Sessen. Lastly, I look up to my partner and best friend Audrey Brown (@imakegirls) her work and creativity drives me to think more in depth about my work. Her taste in photography and all around art is impeccable. I trust her critiques on my work more than anyone.
How do you see future Brendan Carroll in the next 10 years?
I mailed a letter of who I wanted to be to myself when I was 13, I received the letter when I was 18. Almost everything I had wanted to do or be had changed; the only thing that stayed the same was my messy handwriting. My future concept of myself is me being content with the amount of projects I’ve fully attempted to create. I hope that I am motivated by the failures and success from going after the ideas that make me feel the most alive. I see myself still shooting every day, taking risks, having collaborated with artists I adore, and excited about new plans.
Have you submitted your shots yet? Help us create a global photography exhibition by sending us your top shots of your favorite places and signing up to construct your very own LomoWall. Keep an eye on the official 25 Years of Lomography site and make sure you’re following us on social media, too. From parties to exhibitions to giveaways and more, there are tons of festivities still to come!