Fabulous Photographer: Brown W. Cannon III

I’m a big believer in “winks”. In our family we call a “wink” any good thing that happens unexpectedly. When John and I headed to Charleston this fall (more about that coming to the blog soon) for a few days we were seeking good food, relaxation, quality time together, and a little shopping on the side. We wandered through historic Charleston and stumbled into a home store that had great stuff, including a large 3′ x 5′ photo, seen above, on the wall. I was smitten with the image, the photographer’s perspective, and how he used light to make the flat image seem alive. I immediately got home from South Carolina and started researching Brown W. Cannon III. He ended up being one of many “winks” in our weekend. I tracked him down and we ended up speaking on the phone. I knew I wanted one of his works in our home, and that I needed to share him with all of you. He is warm, immensely talented, passionate, and excited to share beauty in the world. I liked him immediately. And knowing him makes the photo we ended up buying and hanging in my favorite room that much more special. It’s hard to explain how his photos make me feel. I’ll let you see them and judge for yourself.

USA, Oregon, Joseph, Cowboys Todd Nash and Cody Ross ride though the canyon and back to their trucks after moving their cattle up Big Sheep Creek in Northeast Oregon

USA, Alaska, view of the Mount McKinley and the Denali Range with Mirror Lake, Denali National Park

CANADA, Vancouver, British Columbia, a Canadian Goose flies through the landscape on Gambier Island, in the Howe Sound

Brazil, Belem, Boa Vista, South America, green parrot with star fruit in the Amazon Jungle

Brazil, Belem, South America, a man cracks open and shows brazil nuts that he found in the Amazon Jungle

BELIZE, Caye Caulker, the bottom of a boat in the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, Shark and Ray Alley

BELIZE, Punta Gorda, Toledo District, portrait of a musician with his handmade violin in the Maya village of San Jose, Morning Star Group

USA, Tennessee, Nashville, Iroquois Steeplechase, horses and their jockeys jump a barrier during the 5th race of the day

USA, Tennessee, Nashville, Iroquois Steeplechase, horses and their jockeys jump a barrier during the 5th race of the day

USA, Utah, Zion Mountain Ranch located on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, Mount Carmel, bison in the snow

USA, Utah, Bryce Canyon City, Bryce Canyon National Park, sweeping views of the Bryce Amphitheater and Hoodoos from Sunrise Point

ITALY, Europe, Mediterranean Sea with the Italien Riviera in the background at dusk

USA, HAWAII, Maui, Jaws, big wave surfers taking off on a wave at Peahi on the Northshore

USA, Hawaii, The Big Island, mountain bike ride on pu’uhue rd trail off of road 250 South of Hapuna

USA, Hawaii, Oahu, people rinse off at the beach shower, Waimea Bay

EASTER ISLAND, CHILE, Isla de Pascua, Rapa Nui, Rano Kau’s crater, Birdman Crater, which is one of three natural bodies of fresh water on the island

EASTER ISLAND, CHILE, Isla de Pascua, Rapa Nui, Rano Raraku is a volcanic crater on the lower slopes of Terevaka, it supplied nearly 95% of the island’s known Moai sculptures and is still home to 397 Moai statues

USA, Hawaii, Oahu, rear view of woman with a flower tattoo on her back

 

Q&A with Photographer Brown W. Cannon III

What is your background career-wise?

I have been a professional photographer for 20 years, but I have had a camera close by since I was a boy. My career began with the decision to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Towards the end of the program I began getting my first jobs from teachers who were art buyers, editors, art directors. Following graduation I found myself running the NYC marathon. I took a few cameras with me to document the day and afterwards I put a small book together which I sent to everyone I had met while in the City. Two weeks later I was on a plane for New Zealand after having been hired by Travel & Leisure magazine. Since then my career has been focused on adventure travel, culture and conservation photography. I have photographed for many of the worlds magazines and agencies and have shot around 40 magazine and book covers. I also am the co-owner of Intersection Photos. A boutique travel stock company. My work has shown in numerous galleries from New York to California, and I have had a couple of museum exhibitions. Surface was a show of surfboards which had my photographs glassed into one side of the boards. Behind Fences is a current and ongoing show that focuses on the working life and portraits of cowboys. I am currently working on personal projects about horse cultures of the world, graphic aerial drone landscape images and surf culture.

How do you choose your subject matter?

I had a great mentor at Art Center. James Fee was a purist. Everything he created happened in the darkroom. He was a mad scientist and shot commercial advertising work to support his personal projects. He taught me to choose my subject matter wisely. And that if I showed the images I love to shoot, then likely that would be the work I would be hired to create. I remember a process where I reflected back on the experiences and places I thrived as a boy. Big skies, open space, nature, animals, travel, adventure, sports. This became the road map for my work going forward, and it remains today.

Where has your work taken you? To what continents? And who have you worked for in the past?

I have been incredibly fortunate. I have traveled to all 7 continents with some favorite locals being Eritrea, Madagascar, Iceland, Easter Island, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Georgia Russia, Alaska, Mauritius, and Panama. I have worked for many companies, magazines, book publishers. Some of them include: Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, AAA Living, Sunset, Gourmet, Men’s Journal, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Modern Farmer, GEO Saison Los Angeles Magazine and Audubon. I have shot for Belcampo Meat Company, Alaska Waterfall Resort, Lexus, Audi, IBM, Eddie Bauer and K-Swiss.

How do you feel connected to the subject matter you photograph? Do horses and cowboys resonate with you for any particular reason?

I grew up in Colorado in a ranching family. I have been around cowboys and horses since I was born. And while I lived inside the Denver city limits, I spent summers and countless hours with my family in Fort Lupton, Colorado on the family ranch. It was a working cattle ranch when I was young, now there is more agricultural involvement. The point is that I was introduced to the subject matter early on, and thus I alway feel at home around the cowboy way of life. Similarly I have had family in Hawaii since the 30’s and personally I have visited yearly since I was born. In fact I am typing this to you on a flight to Oahu. I will there for 3 weeks to surf, photograph and submerge myself. As comfortable as I am around cowboys, I am also that way around the water.

Do you do a lot with after effects, or are your images naturally that colorful? The lighting is amazing!

For me there are 3 components that I always consider when I shoot. Subject, the location, and the light. If all three align it isn’t hard to make interesting images. I also like to shoot from the perspective of a participant. For example last year I rode on horseback in Mongolia with a group of men who hunt with golden eagles. We were out in the nowhere lands of the Altai mountains for a week. This is some of my favorite work. Once the the story is photographed I do treat each image in post production in order to enhance the print. I spent thousands of hours in the darkroom while in school printing both black and white and color. Now my darkroom sits on my desk, but I treat it much the same. I use Photoshop and Bridge and add tones that I would have attempted to create in the darkroom. Always dodging and burning and adjusting the color to reflect the mood of the moment.

Where can people find your work?

Do you ever work on commissions if people have a location they would like photographed?

I am open to just about anything. I thrive being out in the world observing people in their environments.

What are you working on next?

I am on my way to Hawaii to shoot more surf culture, waves, and coastlines. My cowboy project Behind Fences continues. Horse cultures of the world project (so far this includes the American West, Mongolia, and Iceland). And I am creating a collection of photography books. The first, Cowboy, (named after a horse named Cowboy), is available now. I am releasing my Mongolia Eagle Hunter book at the end of April. Next will be Iceland and then likely a surf culture book. All books are being sold in a limited run of 100 and come as a book and print as a set. Feel free to inquire at [email protected]!

Favorite camera for aspiring artists?

Choosing a camera is a bit like choosing a saddle, a pair of skis, or a new surfboard. It is a personal choice that is driven by the objective. My go to camera at the moment is the Canon EOS 5DS. The files are large and so I am able to capture a ton of detail which translates well to my 40×60 prints. That said I also have 4×5 view cameras, pinholes, Pentax 6×7… For the aspiring artist I would say don’t go to crazy on expense. Buy a kit that Canon offers and shoot, shoot, shoot. The way to get better is not by having the fanciest equipment, but to practice all of the time. Have that camera always near you so that you can respond when the moments present. Lastly, determine how large you think you will want to print and then buy a camera that is capable of printing well at your desired size.

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