We’ve known David Brommer for awhile now, primarily in the context of his role with B&H in New York. We’ve done several workshops in the event space at B&H, and they’re always amazing (shameless plug – stay tuned to the Blurb blog for updates on when we’ll be back!).
However David is much more than an events guru and a friend of Blurb. He’s also a photographer specialized in alternative culture, and the creative mind behind Suspect Photography, a studio-gallery acclaimed for exhibiting maverick and emerging photographers. David recently published his first Blurb book, Seattle Suspects, and this week launched a website showcasing his work. We caught up with David for a quick Q&A that we’ll share with you here.
How did you get started as a photographer, and what’s your primary focus?
I’m an artist with a great imagination, I found my hand could not paint or draw what my mind imagined, but with a camera I could realize my deepest fantasies and intricate themes. Photography is how I work out the compositions, conceptualizations, and messages that motivate my spirit. The story I want to impart is that it’s ok to stand out from the crowd and be different — as a matter of fact, the more different and unique you are, the more accepted you should be. Beyond tolerance of diversity is where I want to take the viewer, through visual challenge I want the viewer to sustain acceptance and celebrate difference, not condemn it.
How do you see photo books as a continuation of the photographic process?
In many ways. I feel this is the most exciting thing to happen to photography since the Internet. The book was once the realm of privilege to a select few rich photographers, but now with print on demand the masses can both exploit and utilize it. And that is powerful. A Blurb book impacts photography the same way Gutenberg affected the printed word. Imagine the transition from hand made books to the volume of books off a press. One day a small amount of population was exposed to your printed word, the next morning after Gutenberg you were exposing a vast multiplication of population. Powerful if you want an audience. Secondly in terms of strict process I see it as a twofold benefit. First it encourages you to think past a singular image, and more towards a plurality in your image making. The book format lends its self so well to project based work. Second, the book encourages good editing, and let’s face it, we all need editing of our images.
You’ve often collaborated with a designer — Mat Thorne — what do you feel this pairing brings to your process, and to the final results?
A second set of eyes sees things you might not, or sees things in a new way that you might take for granted. A book designer is akin to a curator at a museum. If photographers or artists always curate their own work the majority would be shorting their exhibitions. Working closely with a designer can cause a bloom in the finished product. Also, photographers may not like what I’m about to say, but most photographers are light in the design department. Ask how many shooters are familiar with Photoshop and how many are familiar with InDesign (or quark for that matter). In my case, I was waiting for a collaborator such as Mat. Your collaborator should believe in the project too. The final result, well it speaks for itself I think.
If you could use only one camera, what would it be?
That’s a loaded question. I think a great photographer will make great images with whatever camera they opt to use. Considering I work for the largest supplier of photo gear in the world, B&H, you would expect me to have definite opinion on this question. You have twisted my arm; I’ll answer this, if I had to have one camera I think I would choose my Hasselblad. It’s simple, manual, utilizes world class optics, and it doesn’t take batteries. I also shoot with a 8×10 Deardorff, but that camera is a bear to work with, the Hassy is so well designed and versatile. I don’t care for zooms, I’m a prime lens preferred shooter. If I wanted to, I could put a digital back on the Hassy and shoot digital or film. Try that with your D3x or 1DSmk4. I also like to work in the square format. One more thing, my Hassy is red and everyone knows the red ones go faster.
Describe your job with B&H and how do your professional and personal lives intersect?
I am fortunate to have my job at B&H, I work in the marketing arm of the company, and specifically I manage the in-store Event Space, a seminar room that both inspires and teaches photography. My whole life I have been either taking photographs or selling camera gear. Photography is my life, and I understand photography from both the gear perspective and image making aspect. Marketing for B&H has led me to meet many of my heroes, such as Jerry Uelsmann, the late Eddie Adams, the inspirational Joe Rosenthal (who I will never forget my time with, what an honor). Maine Media Workshops for years was my account at B&H, the impact that these opportunities have had on my professional and personal life is immeasurable. Mostly, B&H has trusted my intuition on where the company should focus marketing.
Case in point, years ago I first met Blurb at the Society for Photographic Education (SPE). I was impressed by their mission, and their product. I knew the importance of print on demand bookmaking and immediately secured Blurb events at the Event Space. I wanted to share this vision with our customers, as an outlet that would improve their photographic abilities and ways to realize their photographs. My personal and professional seem almost perfectly, the common denominator- photography.