Brendan Meadows: Kids
Following our intro to photographer Brendan Meadows, we take a closer look at his body of work. He tells us about working in an advertising studio, community projects that creatively challenge photographers, and a photo project exporing the evolution of a nation
IMSO: The Princess Diana photo on your homepage, shot in 1986 when you were 10, looks incredibly contemporary, like it’s an Instagram. You developed a love of photography from an early age, did you study it in college?
Brendan Meadows: Briefly in Toronto at Ryerson University, but left to go work at Westside Studio under Chris Gordaneer. The facility is the largest advertising studio in North America with 14 full time shooters. No student debts, travel the world, studio & gear, oh yeah where do I sign? That being said I really do love what I do and very lucky to have this career taking off the way it is. At the beginning I was just amazed that people were paying me and as I continued to fail better over the years, but they kept on paying me.
IMSO: Your portraiture has great drama, your subjects have a larger than life feel. How do you approach your portraits?
Brendan Meadows: My approach starts with creative and gathering all the elements pre-production. My casting needs are extremely thorough and I look for the right fit from the beginning. My interaction with each subject differs with every shoot and finding that connection right away is crucial to getting what you’re ultimately looking for.
IMSO: Do you attract particular kinds of clients or projects because of your take on portraiture?
Brendan Meadows: Not yet. In some ways I really believe that my career has just started. This body of work your seeing now has been presented after almost a decade of trying to figure out just what my voice was trying to say and to whom I was talking to. To confidently say that I was a photographer with conviction took some time, years of assisting and learning. Something I feel has been lost in the crowds these days. This work that I’m showing now has my voice behind it and I really do hope it attracts the kind of clients it reflects.
IMSO: You do a lot of music and entertainment work, how is it working with actors and musicians. Do they have ideas about how they want an image?
Brendan Meadows: All depends on the final output and who is involved. Musicians bring something to the table quite unique as you are branding them together in a collaborative efforts, whereas actors can been seen as products helping to promote the arts through the characters they become. Both are very rewarding and the caliber of talent does help create my job that much more fulfilling.
IMSO: Is the image of masculinity something you re consciously addressing? It seems like a theme in your work, the blue-collar world of Canfor, Butchers, Lords of the Outsiders, Front Lines, Hooligans…There’s a kind of rugged bravado but tinged with wizened experience.
Brendan Meadows: Agreed. I’m addressing this path by choice of preference. These ideas just itch away at me and I’m constantly shuffling to create them. These are real people in fantastical situations. Front Lines was part of the CONTACT photography festival held in Toronto It feels dated and people were confused as to how I had these images which hit the mark from my end. All the gear was authentic to the period, we had military specialists with us and none of those guys were models. A real throwback to Robert Capa and the Spanish Civil war, deemed the first media war.
I never thought I would get into fashion photography and making women look beautiful was never on my agenda. I enjoy work that allows for pores to be seen, grit in the cross hairs and inherent personalities to shine through. After coming full circle inside the advertising world, its’ only now that my efforts have come to fruition. Working with children and brands of that nature is something you’re going to see a lot more over the next few years. There’s a freedom to working with kids, there can also be a great deal of stress and lack of control, but I love it. Men, kids, musicians, actors, characters; that’s what I do well.
IMSO: How Did The Drawn to Develop community project work?
Brendan Meadows: Drawn to Develop was an overly ambitious project right from the beginning. I had originally approached sick kids with an idea of having the kids do drawings and then letting the photographers translate them. Way too much red tape was put up before efforts could take off, so we approached Street Kids International. Basically we had affiliates from around the world get drawings from street youth and then I allocated them at random to high-end commercial photographers to interpret. We had a gala evening and auctioned off all the work donating all the money to the foundation. The show has since been taken over with corporate sponsorship and just had its fourth gala last Fall.
I gravitate toward the community and testing photographers, not only in how they approach a subject, but their inspiration as well. Here’s a photographer getting a drawing of a flower from a street youth over in India having to ask himself how to tackle things. It’s fun. After leaving Toronto last year I started a similar project out here in Vancouver called COVET. 25 photographers had to provide a muse/model and a location into the pot, I then handed them back at random and asked them to provide a framed piece for a show where the money was donated back into the community. Just getting the second year off the ground now and we have sponsorship this year and a publisher.
IMSO: Could you tell us a little about your project Human Case Studies?
Brendan Meadows: It’s part of a 16′ mural that has been commissioned for the roof of the Waldorf Hotel here in Vancouver.
A Future’s Past will be my next big production. I’m looking to translate the lack of cultural markers we have here in North America and create a visual language based upon rites of passage as if we celebrated like our European or African neighbours. Birth, puberty, marriage, death will all be presented to question the abundance of wandering youth not knowing just where they’re at in their lives. With the help of a film producer, creatives from Toronto & New York it’s going to be my first real push into the art world with a three city tour and hopeful book.
Click to see Brendan Meadows work for Image Source
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