Photographer: Drugs, Dust and Wanderlust
Brandon Harman is an LA based professional photographer. His clients include American Eagle Outfitters, Topo Designs, The Block Magazine and Nasty Gal, to name a few. But apart from his commercial projects, it is his wanderlust-infused images of the open road, his gritty and real portrayals of tattooed musicians and his fascinating attachment to the desert that make his work so alluring.
From the ranch-lands in Northern California where he grew up, to Seattle, New York, LA and beyond, Harman has a way of connecting with his environment and marrying his subjects with their surroundings.
I draw a lot of inspiration from my experiences growing up in Northern California. The past few years I’ve been going back to Mount Shasta and photographing the people that live there. I can’t help falling back in love with “Home,” but I also fall in love with all the places I’ve lived and everywhere I visit. The California desert, NYC nightlife, and Seattle in the 90s will always have a place in my heart. I think it is the combination of my rural roots and urban lifestyle that allows me to really connect with subjects from all walks of life.
Like every photographer these days I liked taking photos in high school of my friends smoking weed, partying and skateboarding. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realised this was something that I could do for a career. There was a photographer who came through town to shoot the rodeo, and she showed me Larry Clark’s books Tulsa and Teenage Lust. Having grown up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, those books were the fist photography books I’d ever seen. I was hooked… I thought, “Holy sh*t, I want to do that.”
I don’t even feel like I’m established yet. I continually try to re-establish myself. Wherever I’ve gotten so far has been through persistence.
When I was young I used to sneak out at night to walk through my parents’ orchards in Northern California. I would imagine that if I just kept walking I could go anywhere in the world. I’m addicted to being on the move. I’ll spend all day driving to a remote location in the middle of nowhere to see something new. I have the desire to go a little farther than I did the time before, to see and document the people and places I go. Hopefully I’m sharing this adventure through my photographs, like Kerouac did through his writing.
It’s so extreme out there – emptiness, isolation, the pure heat, the people who live out there. I could never live in the desert because I’m not tough enough, so I constantly want to be there to experience that challenge, even if it’s only for a day.
I love shooting my friends, because even though I know them so well, when I look at the shots they always reveal something unexpected.
That’s a marriage made in hell. I tried it. I went on a national tour with my friends’ band in 2000, supposedly to shoot, and I ended up partying the whole time and becoming a subject instead of the photographer. I actually always wanted to be a musician, and I’ve tried playing since I was young. I had a punk band called “The Plague” in the late 80s. It was not good. I really admire musicians, and I shoot a lot of them because it sort of fulfils that rock and roll fantasy that I can never live out.
The shoot I met my girlfriend on 4 years ago. That was a good one.
My dad was a bullrider, and I am wearing a Stetson hat in the photo you have of me.
What’s your next project?
A month in Death Valley
Dogs or chickens?
Favourite view in the world?
From the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the view from my deck in Eagle Rock early in the morning.