April 28, 2023
Photography by Branden May
Interview by Melanie Meggs
For over 15 years, Branden May has been capturing the wonders of street photography with his camera. His passion for the craft began as a young boy, when his father gave him his first taste of film photography. Since that moment, Branden has not been able to put down his camera. He has developed a unique perspective on the world and captures it with his lens, creating a stunningly beautiful blend of street, architecture, and light and shadow. Branden is an intrepid explorer of the world's diverse beauty, and his work is a vivid reminder of the world around us. Every one of Branden's shots is a testament to his unwavering dedication to the craft of photography, and a stirring invitation to explore its fascinating depths along with him
From the vibrant colors to the intimate moments, become the inspiration in this story of one man's journey to freeze-frame the heart of a city. The compositions of Branden's pictures often accentuate the isolation of his subjects, who are often alone, metaphorically and literally, despite the city's bustle. The structure of buildings, their interaction with people, other structures, and most importantly, the play of light and shadow at different times of the day, are all studied by Branden.
The Pictorial List invites you to experience Branden’s perspective on his approach to photography and peruse through his collection of photographs captured on the streets of Atlanta.
“My father once said that walking down the street can teach you quite a bit, and photography is no exception. Being raised in Atlanta has also played a significant role in my passion for photography.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH BRANDEN MAY
THE PICTORIAL LIST: Hello Branden…welcome to The List! Let's start by telling us something about yourself.
BRANDEN MAY: Hi there, thank you! My name is Branden, and I’m happy to be here! I'm a photographer from Atlanta, Georgia and a husband and dad. My passion for photography extends from portraits to product photography, but I'm particularly drawn to the beauty of street and architecture photography.
TPL: What would you say first drew you to photography? What is it about this medium that you still have a passion for today? How did you find street photography?
BM: Freezing a moment in time has always captivated me, no matter how big or small. Each captured moment is unique and personal. This still drives me today. My father once said that walking down the street can teach you quite a bit, and photography is no exception. Being raised in Atlanta has also played a significant role in my passion for photography.
I'm captivated by how people interact with buildings, structures, and light and shadows. By combining these elements, I create scenes that reveal the hidden beauty of everyday city spaces.
TPL: Could you tell us what living in Atlanta has inspired in your work? What special qualities unique to this city influence your street and the way you portray your community?
BM: My photography style is unique, covering a broad range of subjects, but I have a particular passion for street and architecture genres. Through my lens, I explore the interplay between people, buildings, and their environment, using light and shadows to create compelling scenes. I learned to anticipate how sunlight and shadows play out across the city at different times of day. Witnessing the ever-changing interplay between light and shadow is a marvel that inspires my photography. By showcasing the understated beauty of ordinary city spaces, my work captures the essence of urban life in a way that is both unconventional and captivating.
TPL: There are two techniques that are colloquially referred to as ‘hunting’ and ‘fishing’ in street photography. When you are out on the street taking pictures, are you a ‘hunter’ or a ‘fisher’, or is it a combination of the both? Please describe your process.
BM: I believe I’m a mix of both styles. I wander from block to block, seeking out intriguing compositions, especially on rainy days. Sometimes, I wait patiently for the perfect subject to enter my frame, even if it means staying put for 45 minutes. This habit harks back to my Atlanta roots, where I would watch the sunlight change as I would sit in traffic with my parents.
TPL: What is the most rewarding part of being a street photographer for you? What are some challenges that you have faced?
BM: As a street photographer, the freedom to capture life as I see it is incredibly rewarding. I relish the chance to explore and experiment, taking risks and following my creative instincts. However, finding time to shoot amidst my work and family schedule can be challenging. When I do hit the streets, I make every moment count. Unfortunately, security guards can sometimes dampen my enthusiasm, sapping my joy for the craft. Nonetheless, the thrill of capturing raw, unfiltered moments keeps me coming back for more.
TPL: Is it impossible for you not to be constantly on the lookout for a moment to be captured?
BM: I find it difficult to turn off my photographer's eye. I'm constantly seeking fleeting moments to capture. My only obstacle is finding the time to frame and immortalize these visual gems.
Witnessing the ever-changing interplay between light and shadow is a marvel that inspires my photography.
TPL: How do you manage a work/photography balance?
BM: Work takes a big chunk of my time, so scheduling time to shoot is the key.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?
BM: I have a few favorite photographers, but Gordon Parks holds a special place in my heart. His unparalleled talent for capturing a moment and weaving it into a nuanced, multi-layered story is truly remarkable. Additionally, the works of Saul Leiter, Berenice Abbott and Fan Ho have deeply impacted my style. Their masterful use of composition and shadow play has served as a wellspring of inspiration for my own photography.
TPL: If you could just choose one photographer to shoot alongside for a day...who would you choose? And why?
BM: That’s a tough question, but Fan Ho undoubtedly ranks high on the list. With his masterful play of shadows and backlighting, his techniques are legendary. Observing his creative process firsthand would be an unforgettable experience.
TPL: What was the first camera you ever held in your hand, brought to eye, and released a shutter on? What is the camera you use now and your preferred focal length? Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Is there anything on your wishlist?
BM: My photographic journey began with my mom's Kodak Ektralite 500 camera and my dad's Olympus OM-1. Today, I use a Nikon D750, but I'm always on the lookout for new gear to test out. The Nikon Z fc has caught my eye. I'm curious to see what all the fuss is about! Let me know if you have a connect 😉
TPL: Are there any special projects that you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about? What are some of your photography goals for the next 3-5 years?
BM: My wife and I run rentaprint.co, a print rental service that offers high-quality, cleared fine art architecture prints to a range of industries including TV, film, and real estate. I'm currently working on my first photobook and participating in several upcoming group exhibitions. My goal is to have multiple solo exhibitions in the next few years and eventually get accepted into Magnum Photos. I’m excited to continue to work and grow as a photographic artist.
TPL: “When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
BM: Spend time with my wife and kids, cycle and play golf.”
The photography of Branden has allowed us to explore and appreciate Atlanta in a way we could never have imagined. His unique perspective has given us a glimpse into the beauty of this Southern city that is not often seen. We would like to thank Branden once again for his stunning work and invite our readers to take this opportunity to explore more of his home city through his website and social media.