The Surrealist Photography of Brandon Halley

We caught up with Brandon Halley on the cusp of a creative stupor. Newly free from a creative rut, the St Louis Fine Art Photographer explores his anxiety through surrealist photography and creates beautiful works of whimsical landscapes and impossible constructions.

The Jotter: Hey Brandon, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Brandon: I am a fine art photographer based in St. Louis, MO. studying photography and art therapy in university. I grew up having very severe anxiety and began using photography as a therapeutic release. I later found out about surreal/conceptual photography and quickly fell in love with it. I find this type of art extremely comforting, because I have complete control over everything that happens within my little worlds. In real life I cannot have that. My creative process is probably the most sporadic ever. I keep a notebook with me at all times and if at any point an idea comes to mind, I stop whatever I'm doing to draw the basics out. But even when I do this, the final product is almost always very different than the original idea. Every one of my photos I create is symbolic. It is my hopes that whenever someone looks at each one of my pieces, they can come up with their own meanings that resonate within themselves.

TJ: Can you talk us through the process of your work? What are the crucial stages you have to go through?

BH: I struggle a lot with my own creative process. I always keep a journal with me at all times so I can write down/draw out ideas that I come up with throughout the day. When a particular idea sticks out to me the most, I try to create what is in my mind. Most of the time the images do not come out like I've drawn out, which I find really interesting. I think the most crucial stages I go through are the initial processes of coming up with ideas. I never shoot for ideas that are just simply "pretty" or fun to look at, everything I do is very symbolic.

TJ: Where do you find inspiration for your work?

BH: Most of my inspiration comes from life occurrences. My photographs are a mirror into what i'm currently going through during the period it was made. I never keep up with most photographers like myself, really. When I am browsing for inspiration, I mostly shoot for paintings.

TJ: What role do you feel surreal/conceptual photography plays in the art world?

BH: I think surreal photography plays a large role in the art world. We're using our base medium, photography, and mixing so many more elements into each piece. It isn't just snap a photo and go with this type of work. You pour your soul into each piece just like you would with a drawing or a painting.

TJ: What reactions have you garnered from your surreal/conceptual work?

BH: The reactions I get are fairly typical, "Wow, beautiful!" "That's so creative!" etc. What really interests me is when people ask me "How were you feeling when you made this" because this to me, means that the person viewing the piece feels either the emotion I put into the piece while making it, or they found something within the photograph that resonates within themselves. And that I think is very beautiful. Lots of people want me to tell them the meaning behind my works, to which I refuse. Each work is deeply personal and I want others to come up with their own philosophies behind each photograph.

TJ: What do you plan to do once you graduate?

BH: There are lots of things I would like to do after I graduate. I study photography and art therapy currently. What I would like to do, is work for magazines like I am doing presently, and also set up a non-profit organization that provides therapeutic photography sessions to high school and college campuses. I use my artwork as a therapeutic release and I want to be able to give back to the community. I want to help someone get over social anxiety with photography. I want to help someone do things they've never thought were even possible through photography.

To see more of Brandon's photography visit his website.

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