Brock Lawson is a Commercial and Editorial Fashion Photographer from Houston, Texas. At Urbanity Chic we’ve been following Brock’s work for a few years now and we were delighted when an interview with Brock could be arranged so that we could share his latest work with you. Read on to discover, amongst other things, what style of photography makes Brock unique, how he became interested in photography initially and what hobbies he enjoys when not working.
Q: How did you get into professional photography?
I began training my eye while I was still in high school but it has been in the last 5-10 years that I have made any sort of serious effort into the world of professional photography. I learn more and more each day as to what professional actually means in this industry.
Q: What do you enjoy most photographing?
Something unique, something blue, something with angles, something smooth. Any interesting subject that has a lasting uniqueness that my mind cannot ignore.
Q: How have the last 12 months been for you?
A roller coaster of emotional ups and downs all stemming from my photographic journey. Mostly good, but like any creative, it varies. The journey may be similar to those who have traveled it before me, but my experience is unique and all my own.
Q: Who inspires you?
It has become less of a who and more of a what in recent times. I tend to stay away from following other photographers work as it really doesn’t inspire me so much as it makes me want to emulate which isn’t healthy for my career. I draw most of my inspiration from personal events, movie scenes, paintings, performance art, music, etc. Anything I experience in day to day life can inspire an image.
Q: Which modern day fashion designers or fashion icons do you look up to?
Modern fashion design is so varying it is hard to pinpoint down specific people. I’ve been a huge fan of the McQueen house for a number of years now. I think that Sarah will never be able to fill the shoes left before her but has done an excellent job building a label in memory of the great designer. Galliano is interesting to me as well. Along with Rick Owens, Riccardo Tisci, Yohji Yamamoto. I’ve been really into the contemporary modern minimalism look lately.
Q: What makes a good photographer in your opinion?
In the modern age it has shifted from being a technical question to a vision question in my opinion. The internet provides a lifetime of information regarding lighting, composition, exposure, etc. To the point where it is not impressive when someone takes a technically sound image. I’m more impressed by the vision conveyed through the photograph by incredible subjects and backgrounds and bending the rules of “proper” photography to create something new and exciting.
Q: Do you prefer using film cameras or digital?
It really depends on what I am trying to accomplish and what message I want to be told. I enjoy the slowed down pace of a large format camera as it really allows me to concentrate on my composition and getting everything perfect but if I am trying to capture movement and motion and keep the mood full of energy they tend to work against each other so I need to switch to a format that allows ease of use and speed. They both have their pros and cons and it is up to the photographer to decipher the needs of a particular visual.
Q: Do you prefer to shoot on location or in the studio?
I follow the same ideology as I do for film or digital with this question as well. I love the control exhibited within the studio and being able to really dial in my lighting and all of the elements of the photograph but shooting on location provides a level of complexity that is difficult to obtain in studio without large budgets. I’m a big fan of the minimal look so studio is my preferred playground but I will go wherever the image takes me.
Q: Do you have a specific style of photography that makes you unique?
I think everyone has a visual story to tell. It is really a matter of whether or not it is marketable on a global scale. The story is always evolving and the world is always changing. Remaining passionate and creating new work often while waiting for the stars to align is the name of the game.
Q: Do you have a favourite photograph?
The ones in my dreams, hah! This is a bit of a loaded question! My favorite photograph for personal reasons is one of my grandfather in front of his tractor from 2004. The oldest of my photos that I still have. I have some 4x5’s of my grandmother when I saw her this past holiday season for the first time in 8 years that are pretty important to me. As far as fashion work is concerned, I recently shot a story that I am really happy about but unfortunately it is not available for sharing yet. Previously, my favorite work was probably the shoot I did with Lazaro Alas and his personal collection of t-shirts from the likes of Givenchy, Margiela, Pyrex, etc.
Q: Who is your favourite photographer?
If I had to pick one person, it would probably be Helmut Newton.
Q: Is there anybody you would like to work with (either behind or in front of the camera)?
There is always an ongoing list of individuals I am interested in working with but I am more focused on expressing moods and mindsets currently. I’m looking to do something gold this year. I am planning on taking my viewers on a trip to Sergio Leone’s perspective of the Wild West as well. We will see where the year takes us!
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is such a gargantuan idea. Anything can be considered fashion and at the same time not be considered fashion. It really is in the eye of the beholder and so much more a feeling than a tangible object. I don’t remember the specific article of clothing that originally hooked me but I do remember the feeling. Euphoria similar to that of a drug or seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. Your first experience in a fast car, your first time seeing a true artistic masterpiece from one of history’s greats. It quickly spiraled into an endless search for that same feeling once again and is a chase I will never give up.
Q: How would you define your personal style?
Constantly evolving and changing based on the environment and surroundings I place myself in. I tend to find myself hovering in between the modern day youth’s angst of the Internet and the days of old where more of your soul was released with every shutter click. I gravitate towards the mounds of inspiration available on the internet (in particular, Tumblr) but tend to sit and analyze visuals longer than many of my contemporaries.
Q: Where are you based?
Houston, Texas, USA but I don’t really feel defined by any one location.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
Hot, haha. It is a concrete jungle controlled by greed, oil, and opulence at war with the artists that inhabit it. We are known for our art museums or our traffic, depending on whom you ask. The traditional art scene is fantastic but most fashion professionals get out the moment they smell success from a major market. We are extremely culturally diverse and have a huge food scene. A typical local artist will find plenty of inspiration from a variety of sources but the city itself isn’t very pleasant on the eye. It forces the creative to seek inspiration elsewhere. Being a less than beautiful city makes us work that much harder at getting a beautiful photograph. We can’t just step out onto the sidewalk and bang out a bunch of fantastic street style photos straight from the pages of Vogue like you can in NY and LA. The search for an upscale and visually pleasing backdrop that hasn’t been shot to death requires lots of work around here.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Finding my way through life’s biggest questions has been one of the most important accomplishments I have achieved on this planet thus far. The work I have done has helped lead my inner eye to discover art, world concepts, and internal peace. I believe this to be far more important than any awards, accolades, or paychecks could ever provide. My entire outlook on the world around me has changed in direct relationship with my love of photography, fashion, and art.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I want to be able to inspire young artists like the masters have inspired me. I want to help people find their own visual story. I want people to see the beauty that I see in the mundane. I want to make sure that the world never sees the dark days of a lack of art because I truly believe the world cannot exist without it. I hope to be a brick in the wall blocking individuals from removing art from the classroom and public places. I want to be one of the many soldiers fighting to allow the general public see the beauty and wonder swirling around us on a daily basis.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Typical relaxation is accomplished through cinema and books. True relaxation comes from being out on the edge of a lake and fishing completely cutting ties with the world and concentrating on nothing but the visuals in front of me and getting a fish on the end of the pole in my hand.
Q: Where would your favourite holiday (vacation) be and why?
I have never really been on a vacation in my life so that concept is pretty foreign to me. I would love to be able to go camping in the near future. A tour of Europe would be wonderful too. The Barnes Collection in Philadelphia is definitely on my bucket list as well. Really anywhere that provides a new experience to my life that I can call upon when needed.
Q: What songs are you listening to at the moment?
Music has always been a huge influence. I’ve dabbled in the industry over the past 15 years. I’ve always been heavily interested in music and the process but have never been too successful in it. I’ve played a variety of instruments and DJed for a short period of time as well. With that being said, there isn’t a genre out there that I can’t name an artist that I am interested in. I’ve been really enjoying the new tracks Kanye West has been releasing. I listen to The Mars Volta (or some form of the Omar/Cedric dynamic) every single day. I’ve been listening to a lot of downtempo/ambient type stuff lately like Chet Faker, Darkside, Nicolas Jaar, etc. Really just a lot of everything.
Q: Do you have any interesting hobbies?
My most interesting hobby is probably fishing. It tends to not be a common choice for the fashion industry and it is something I never imagined myself doing in the past. But it has turned out to be an incredible release from the weight of the world when I have the chance to get out there. Unplugging completely from the world and having literally one worry (what do the fish want to bite) has been an amazing addition to my life. I can get out there in any type of weather and just sit for hours absorbing the world around me.
If the weather or time doesn’t permit, you can catch me watching a film at home or at one of the local museums studying the greats.
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for aspiring photographers what would it be?
Just keep doing what you want to do and stop worrying about the money, fame, and ego. I’m not telling you to ignore your business needs and clients but just focus on what feels right for you instead of buying into every flavor of the week photo styling. People’s influences and styles change so consistently that by chasing after them you will always be one step behind. Develop your own style and way of doing things. Eventually, what you do will become the next hot thing and you will be one step ahead. In the end, focus on what makes you happy because you are the only person who really matters in the framework of the world you live in.
Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
Life experiences. I never try to force anything I do. If it is not coming around naturally, it isn’t the right time to attempt it. Constant comparing to other photographers and worrying about getting to that final “dream” job isn’t worth the stress. Create the best work you possibly can where you are currently and never give up.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
Don’t let your ego get in the way. The second you think you are the best there is, is the second you should sell all your gear and give up. There is no better way to stonewall your own development as an artist. Remember to always thank the people that help you get where you are going. The fashion world is one of the few artistic endeavors that requires a team to accomplish and they will always be the most important part of leading you to your dreams. Without the rest of the team, you would just have a well-lit and composed image of a wall.
Editor’s Note: Brock Lawson has a deep appreciation and understanding of all the technical aspects of photography that allows him to explore different creative styles and compositions with ease. Definitely one of Urbanity Chic’s Ones to Watch!
If you’d like to learn more about or get in touch with Brock Lawson just follow the links below:
Twitter link: http://www.twitter.com/brocklawson
Facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/brocklawsonphoto
Web site: http://www.brocklawsonphoto.com