After graduating from college, Brent Winebrenner (http://www.winebrennertravels.com/) worked as a CPA and business consultant before trading his wingtips for flip flops and life on hill overlooking a beach in Costa Rica. There he opened a woodshop and learned to build furniture with a book in one hand and tool in the other. When the time came to return to the States, his corporate resume was so riddled with holes, he decided to follow his heart and pursue a career in photography. He enrolled in the Brooks Institute where he earned a master’s degree. Upon graduation, he joined the faculty in their Visual Journalism program. Brent taught intermediate photography and location lighting for five years and was noted for both his patience and his enthusiasm. Brent has worked in more than 70 countries, shooting for a variety of editorial and corporate clients, including Rizzoli Publications, Kendall Jackson and Lonely Planet. His work has appeared in National Geographic Adventure and Traveler, Islands, Newsweek, Santa Barbara Magazine, The Washington Post and numerous Lonely Planet publications. He was the principle photographer on the Splendor of Cuba, a Rizzoli coffee table book that was recognized as one of the ten best photo books of 2011. His stock images and video clips are represented by Getty Images and DVArchives. He recently completed a feature length documentary film, Guatemala: On the Edge of Discovery. Now that its finished, he’s busy chasing down his next film project.
LACP Interviews Brent Winebrenner
LACP asks Brent Winebrenner ten questions about his background, career in and beliefs about photography
Los Angeles Center of Photography: What kind of photographer are you?
Brent Winebrenner: I’m a freelance corporate location and editorial photographer and filmmaker with a well-developed documentary sensibility and aesthetic. I really gravitate toward projects and assignments that require some digging to reveal and develop the most compelling narrative arc.
LACP: How long have you been shooting?
BW: Long enough! I took my first picture on a Brownie in grade school and shot for the high school yearbook staff. After college, I carried a camera whenever I traveled. But, it wasn’t until after 15 years of working in a career I didn’t like, that I dropped out and finally decided to pursue a career in photography.
LACP: Where did you get your education?
BW: I enrolled at the Brooks Institute of Photography in 2000 and earned a Master’s Degree in Photography. But, my real education began when I graduated and began to freelance. Then I really got schooled when I was hired to teach in their Visual Journalism Program. The faculty included some really good, really hard-boiled photojournalists. I had to work hard and stretch to produce a solid body of work that was worthy of their respect. Along the way, I’d like to think I absorbed their work ethic and standards.
LACP: When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?
BW: I was enamored with photography at an early age but I grew up in a place and a time with limited horizons. So I never seriously considered it a viable pursuit until much later.
LACP: Did you ever come close to giving up?
BW: No, not once I got started. Besides, when I graduated from Brooks I was too broke to quit.
LACP: Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?
BW: Other than an employer funded profit-sharing or a 401K plan – no. There are trade-offs for sure, but sacrifices no. Perhaps, it would be a different story if my wife weren’t so understanding …
LACP: What have you gained by being a photographer?
BW: Photography has provided both an opportunity and an excuse to travel, taking me to more than 70 countries so far. It has allowed me to meet people, see places and experience cultures with the intensity that is often missing when exploring for pleasure. And, it has continually challenged me to grow and expand my skill set. Perhaps most importantly, the pursuit of images has been the catalyst for many of the most memorable memories of my life.
LACP: What classes do you teach at LACP?
BW: Travel Photography.
LACP: What do you love most about teaching?
BW: There are two things that I really enjoy about teaching. The first is being part of the moment of epiphany when a student internalizes a concept or technique and uses it to elevate their work to a new level. The second is helping students, who might be short on native talent but are long on desire, achieve their photographic aspirations.
LACP: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?
BW: Take an acting class, join Toastmasters, learn to sell.