With 15 years of experience working with performers, Brad Buckman (www.buckmanheadshots.com) quickly became known in Hollywood for capturing the essence of an actor in a photograph. He pioneered the use of digital photography for headshots a dozen years ago and then led the industry’s conversion to color. Brad has a unique technical aptitude, combined with an ability to put people at ease in a session. Rather than rely on a specific formula or a single style, he’s a true photographer who creates the best picture for his particular subject in that moment. Referred by top agencies, managers, and casting directors, he is routinely voted a “Best of LA” in the Back Stage Readers’ Polls. Having photographed thousands of actors, he is excited to share his experience and knowledge. Along with his portraiture, he also shoots commercial architecture and fine art photography, with recent work shown in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Palm Springs. (Brad is a four-time winner in the alternative photography competitions at Julia Dean.) When off duty, he often tortures his wife and two young children with a camera.

Brad Buckman Portfolio

Julia Dean Interviews Brad Buckman

LACP Founder and Executive Director Julia Dean asks Brad Buckman ten questions about his background, career in and beliefs about photography …

Julia Dean:  What kind of photographer are you?

Brad Buckman:  I am primarily a portrait photographer, but also work in architectural and fine-art photography.

JD:  How long have you been shooting?

BB:  My adventure in photography began with a trip to visit a friend in Prague in 1996. I had a little Ricoh point-and-shoot camera, and loved taking pictures as I explored the city. My two week visit turned into a three-month journey around Eastern Europe. When I returned and shared my pictures, my creative friends said, “You should be a photographer!” Hard to believe that was almost twenty years ago.

JD:  Where did you get your training?

BB:  After my trip, I took a few photography classes at UCLA, including a fine art darkroom class (loved printing), and a portrait class with Mark Edward Harris. I met a few photographers, and did a little bit of assisting. Next I took classes at the Julia Dean Photo Workshops (now LACP), and those early classes led to my first fine art exhibits.

JD:  When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?

BB:  While I never thought about it as a devotion, photography did become a huge part of my life and my identity. After receiving my degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, the technical work I was doing evolved into more creative work with computers in animation, design, and interactive media. The photography came after that, and I was drawn in by the breadth and depth of what photography can be. My technical aptitude enabled me to be an early adopter in digital photography, but more than that, photography creates opportunities for me to explore and experiment. I love the collaboration to create a photograph, and the chance to meet and get to know so many people. As a portrait photographer, it’s gratifying to put your subjects at ease, and have them truly enjoy the process.

JD:  Did you ever come close to giving up?

BB:  For most people, I imagine the notion of “giving up” would have to do with not earning the money they want or need; not realizing the pictures they want to create; or not receiving acceptance or recognition as an artist. I have a lot of interests and abilities, so other opportunities arise, but I’m still a photographer after all these years. And frankly, I feel like I haven’t even started.

JD:  Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?

BB:  By choosing one path, you naturally miss out on other opportunities, but I don’t regret that. Being a working photographer means wearing more hats than it used to, so the business can be pretty consuming. As a photographer, you may also be the photo lab, a retoucher, an entrepreneur, an employer, a salesperson, a marketer, the IT department, a teacher, a student, the janitor. And compound that with all things internet, SEO, social media … it’s a lot of work, and there’s always more to do.

JD:  What have you gained by being a photographer?

BB:  Along with the joy of visual exploration, I have my own business. This has given me the means and flexibility to travel, and to spend my days on my own terms. I have met a variety of wonderful people, and am happy to call many of my clients friends.

JD:  What classes do you teach at LACP?

BB:  I teach a six-session course covering the art and business of photographing actors.

JD:  What do you love most about teaching?

BB:  I love helping others to see in a new way, to truly look at what they are photographing, and why. We all take for granted the insights we have gained from shooting over a period of time.

JD:  What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?

BB:  Every photographer has his or her own path, their own history, and their own unique opportunities that will unfold. Consider the photographs you love to make, and consider why you make them. Ask yourself, “Who will pay me to create these images?” Look at others with successful careers, doing work similar to what you want to do. Research them, talk to them, assist them. Don’t make it all about the money at first, cover your rent another way. And shoot. Make pictures. And more pictures. Share them. Let people know what you are doing, and you will find your clients.