#64 The Power of Scale, meet Bryant Austin, Photographic Artist

Bryant Austin, “ Minke Whale Composite Portrait I - Detail”  (2009)

Bryant Austin, “Minke Whale Composite Portrait I - Detail” (2009)

“I don’t even create any more, I connect… I connect to Earth’s reality. And to myself.”

— Bryant Austin

BRYANT AUSTIN’S ARTIST STATEMENT: I am mostly known for creating life-size photographs of whales, with an emphasis on the inquisitive expressions of their eyes. A process that encompassed twelve years of my life to create fourteen life-size whale portraits. Everything I create expresses an awareness that all photographs taken throughout history, are the cosmos taking a self-portrait. It is this feeling of connectedness that I seek to convey through every photograph.

Bryant Austin, “ Humpback Whale Mother and Calf II  (2005)

Bryant Austin, “Humpback Whale Mother and Calf II (2005)

My new work reveals the sun’s surface in vivid detail, as viewed through Earth’s varied atmospheric states. Dramatic landscape elements anchor the experience to challenge our perceptions of reality and our place within an infinite void. The process is complex and often requires the use of three telescopes equipped with infrared cameras and a monochrome video camera with scientific filters. This equipment is often backpacked in the Sierras to capture Sun/Earth interactions that occur only a few moments each year.

Following my father’s death in 2015 and a near death experience of my own a few months later, I felt compelled to explore the oneness I felt with whales through other subjects. My creative journey revealed an avenue for deeper connection to the cosmos, personal transcendence, and peace of mind.

This creative practice has led me to feel that the disconnection we experience - from one another, from nature, and the universe - is an illusion. Closer to home, this awareness has challenged me to explore ways to deconstruct the divisions we create between subjects found in nature and contemporary photography.


Bryant Austin, Sperm Whale Composite II (2011)   8 X 36 feet

Bryant Austin, Sperm Whale Composite II (2011)

8 X 36 feet

Bryant Austin, “I'm Here”   Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2016)

Bryant Austin, “I'm Here”

Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2016)

Bryant Austin, “Precession Study - Panel II”   Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2017)

Bryant Austin, “Precession Study - Panel II”

Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2017)

RUBIN NOTE: I was thinking of Peter Beard, not Nick Brandt, when I was recalling African images of Africa and dead animals. The following is about Nick Brandt:

Nick Brandt, Lion in shaft of light, Maasai Mara (2012)

Nick Brandt, Lion in shaft of light, Maasai Mara (2012)

In December of 2000, Nick Brandt was in East Africa directing a music video for Michael Jackson. When the shooting for the video was complete, Brandt took some time off and visited some of the wildlife preserves. He took along a medium format camera and began to photograph the animals he saw from the car. Now, six years later, Brandt is out of the music video business. He devotes himself full time to photographing the animals of Africa.

Brandt’s approach to his work is unique…perhaps because he was never trained as a still photographer. Although he take photographs of wildlife, he is not really a wildlife photographer. He’s not interested in documenting the actual lives of real animals in the wild. Instead he creates romanticized images of animals in an equally romanticized setting. https://www.utata.org/sundaysalon/nick-brandt/




Bryant Austin, A Mother Listens, (2006)

Bryant Austin, A Mother Listens, (2006)

Clyde Butcher, INDIAN KEY 6 Everglades National Park, FL (1997)

Clyde Butcher, INDIAN KEY 6 Everglades National Park, FL (1997)


Rubin:                        Hey Suzanne. Hey Rubin. How are you? Good. I'm, I'm uh, I thought we could check, check before we start, but I'm not, I don't want to Chit Chat actually had to the business. I'm the, I keep telling you like I think we should talk before the shows get going and then I'm the, yeah, it's my, I'm the PR. I am usually, I'm the problem and this is what it looks like.

Suzanne:                  It's cool. And we can, we can just jump right in. I'm also excited. Uh, Bryant is here today. Okay. You want to, you've met him before, right?

Rubin:                        I have. We'll, okay. So, okay, so everybody, this is Bryant Austin. I just want to tell a little story. Bryant, welcome to the show. Thank you. Thanks for having me. So I don't know, I haven't really heard your version of this. So I'll tell my version and let's see how they fit together a little bit. And I could be, maybe I'm completely made this up, but my recollection was many years ago, maybe nine years ago or eight years ago, I met someone who had a gallery in Carmel and she and I were hanging out and at some point she said, I want to show you somebody work that I think you'll like, cause I know you love photography. And I looked at this, I looked at one of your photographs and my jaw hit the floor. I couldn't believe she explained this. She explained what you were doing to me. And at the time I was going to these conferences in Carmel and I guess, I don't know if you lived in Carmel or maybe she was in Carmel, but I invited, I showed the pictures to the people from the conference of the Eg conference and everyone was like, that guy's awesome. And, and then one day I was at the conference in there you were and that's how I met you was at the club. Thank you. Is that, wow. Did I make that up?

Bryant:                       No, that, that sounds right. Yeah. And I really appreciate that you connected me with EG because I met a lot of great people there and uh, some people that took my work to new levels. So thank you.

Rubin:                        Well, the, I, I, I have to say for people who are, who don't know your work, the pictures that I saw that just were jaw dropping, again, stop me if this, if I'm remembering this in a dream, but it was a life size photograph, a lifesize photograph of a whale. And Yeah, I have the whale was the size of my head and I'd never seen anything like this. A life size photo. And you know, if you take a picture of a whale, you're going to distort it. But it was undistorted what was I looking at? What was that?

Bryant:                       Yeah, those are life sized portraits, you know, there their portraits, uh, emphasizing the eye and uh, the varied expressions in the eye. Um, and those portraits are roughly four by six feet to six by 10 feet. Oh. And that's the first thing I always do when I'm with a whale is, uh, to see if I can get the portrait of the eye and the surrounding head if that's the first thing you do when you see a whale. Yeah. Well, no, I mean the, for a second, I hope for it and I, I'm very careful to hopefully achieve and if the well spends more time with me, that's when I started to think about doing the whole body. And, and so that's when I'll start photographing their body and five foot wide sections going up and down and then making this really massive composite, highly detailed composite of their body. They're done this done with a medium format camera. [inaudible]

Rubin:                        are they holding still for this? Did they know what you're doing or what?

Bryant:                       I do that there. It's both. So most of the time I stay still and, and if you're, if you're by yourself in the ocean floating alone, they're more likely to come up to a new way for them to come up to you. Because if you swim up to them, they, they most likely leave. And so you have to really just wait. And when they come up to you, they can come up to you for four minutes to five hours. And I've had both. Wow. And, um, so generally I do let them swim by my camera, so they'll make multiple passes and then I'll just take pictures as they move by my lens. And they're generally like five or six feet, six feet see outer limit. It's really four or five feet that really gets the detail, gets the color and the tones because you can't use artificial light. What? Excuse me, wait, sorry.

Rubin:                        The photography or the whales. I mean, were you a diver and you thought I should take pictures of these or were you a photographer thinking, I think I should get in the water? Yes.

Bryant:                       Yeah, it is. That's a long story. I was a kid just completely out of touch with my truth and it took years to peel back all the layers and then, and my truth, I realize, you know, um, I was a painter most of my childhood and it burned me out. I wasn't satisfied. And then I realized photography is my medium. And the other layer that slowly got peeled out back was that I'm really connected to the ocean in a big way. And, and in particular whales. Wow. Yeah. This is just waking up to your truth and just feeling that resonance, you know? I was like, wow, okay. Yeah, this is, it's pretty obvious. This is my purpose and my truth, you know, connection with these animals.

Rubin:                        So, how did that project, is it, that's the eye of the whale project? Is that what you call that?

Bryant:                       No, no. Well, yeah, I mean, I, I, you know, even though I don't, I haven't done it for a couple of years now, it's always been our practice to me and uh, yeah, I don't know what it's called. You know, it's just a, it's just a practice. It's a way to connect, uh, with nature in a way to connect with yourself and really just blur, blur the lines. You know,

Suzanne:                  I heard a, uh, um, a talk that you had given or an interview that you've given and you were saying it's, it's 15 to 30 photographs her per whale and it takes months just to composite the images, but it takes months to build a computer that can process the amount of, uh, kind of data to make these images possible. Can you talk about that? That amazes me that you have to make your tools.

Bryant:                       There's tears like in doing this work. I mean, it's highly experimental. It's never had been done before or since. So there's tiers, like, you know, and, and getting the computer as part of it, like having the processing power is that, so it's like, I'm okay, I'm in the field, uh, and I'm in the field for five weeks to three months. It's really expensive. Okay. Oh, I got something. You know, what happens if you're in the field for five weeks? You're lucky if you have one good encounter, you know, for, for five minutes or an hour. Okay. It's like, okay, what do I do with all this data now? All these photographs, um, I can't do anything with them. So no, I, cause the computer I had was from the last field season from two years earlier and I'm, I'm, you know, everything's getting bigger. And, uh, so yeah. Uh, I've, I've built three computers, uh, over time to tackle each one. And the last computer that was built, it was built just to make one photograph and it's measures eight by 36 feet. Uh, and that was completed in 2012. Uh, that was my last one. Um, I spent 12 years of my life to make 14 lifesize portraits. And that one was never printed. So, uh, you know, it's, everything I do is done to archival standards, so they'll last for hundreds of years. So future generations and kids can see what we may lose our lifetime. We're or may not, hopefully not, but I really want to solid record of what, what we're coexisting with right now. And uh, and that's when I decided to take a break because like, wow, I've spent, yeah, that was finished in 2012 and then for another three years I just tried to raise funding to print and mount it to a, to an archival standard, which is, you know, it's like 60 or $70,000 and then you've got a store it and transport it and find a venue for it. And it was just, yeah, it wasn't crazy anymore. And it was, that part of my mind was going, you know, atrophied.

Suzanne:                  How do you feel when you're in the water with just kind of waiting for a whale? Like is it meditative? Is it, yeah. Peaceful.

Bryant:                       No, no, it's very peaceful. Um, so there's a lot of surrender and it just comes naturally for me. Um, and like I said, I do work alone in the water so I can be, and 3000 fetal blue water. Um, my boat can be 800 feet away. Uh, and I'm just with whales, I'm floating, I'm at a distance where we can have a visual connection to each other, but that's it. And then I just wait and um, yeah, it is meditative. You, uh, I breathe up in a way a, I'm a free diver, so that's breath, hold, dive in. So I'll, uh, I don't generally dive with whales. They don't like it. They leave. So they're very sensitive and, but it's just a way to relax. So I'll saturate my blood, you know, to nearly a hundred percent o two and my heart rate, I can lower my heart rate through my breathing in the way I breathe. And yeah, it's just very relaxing very much in the moment.

Rubin:                        But you're holding a camera and you're, you are in hoping a whale comes around and sure you have to concentrate on the photography part as well as not, you know, dying cause you're holding your breath underwater.

Bryant:                       Oh yeah. The breath holds not, not, I don't do too much of that. Um, you know, I, I've been held by wells and, uh, almost taken down by a young, whale that just held me in his arm, his Pec fan, and I think he was about to take me to go see his mom and his mom came up next to us. And so, um, he let go of me. You have to be able to navigate those channels, you know, those things when they come up. Wow.

Rubin:                        Are you more comfortable? I was glancing, I've been going through your portfolio, your newer work, you're on the land that looks right safer. Is it still meditative? Is it the same kind of process? Yeah. So tell me about that. Excuse me. Project.

Bryant:                       Yeah. So it really, um, yeah, I had to take a break from whales just because, um, it's, it's just, um, yeah, it's a long story. I wouldn't even know where to begin. Like really that the ultimate thing issue was I could make it sustainable and, um, it, it, it Wa it was sent, you know, yeah. It was a long story. It wasn't sustainable. And I thought I can either just try to be a salesman and not take photographs for, you know, I did that for three years. Yeah. I can just keep doing that. Or I could just create and find a way to, to have a daily creative practice. And, uh, I made that decision. MMM. MMM. In 2015 so then the idea was, okay, yeah, wells will go pull you into the present moment. Um, the word will is meaningless. When you're with them. They're there, they have a presence. You feel their presence, their consciousness. It's all very evident and you know, you, you can, you know, they can bring you closer to an enlightened state where you just feel connected to everything and feel one with everything. Uh, it's, they can easily take you there, especially when you can just touch them and they're looking at you, their eyes moving and studying you. Huh. Um, but I always wanting to know, I mean it's available to us everyday. All of us everywhere. We don't need to be with a, whale five feet away. We could that, that same thing can, those emotions can be stirred from by a flower or a tree, uh, or, or the sun or the sky. And I thought, I just want to explore ways to evoke that same emotional state, uh, that I felt with the whales in everyday life. And, uh, so that sale. Um, well I'm sorry.

Rubin:                        So what did you do? Like, I mean I've seen some of your pictures, but maybe you could describe what you came to.

Bryant:                       Well, you know, it, it, um, it was a decision I made in an emergency room. Actually I had a close call with a medication. Um, uh, it just, my body just did not like it. And, uh, I just thought, you know, laying in the hospital bed, like, what am I doing? You know, and, uh, and I just came back to this idea of connecting every day. And you know, the, I, the idea is, you know, when you connect to the present moment, when you can create work that reminds us, our, our can connect us to the present moment, you realized that the cosmos is right here. And I just wanted to start exploring work that can connect us to that reality. Um, I'm not sure if I answered your question though.

Rubin:                        Not at all. Not even live in the slide. Well, I mean, I, what I've seen are they look like landscapes and then there are these almost scientifically amazing images of the site.

Bryant:                       Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rubin:                        What am I seeing?

Bryant:                       Um, yeah, that it started with the sun and the telescope and um, you know, like, you know how we have narratives in our head like that can keep the kind of hold us back. You know? And I think during that three years I wasn't taking photographs. I was so focused on the whales, getting back to the wells, getting, you know, really doing all this stuff. The narrative was I can't do anything else. Like it's whales and, and anything else I do is less. And, and there's a, in my mind almost created like a hierarchy, like wells are at the top of this hierarchy and they're not. And um, and uh, so I, I, you know, I'll just real quick just because it makes sense to explain this. I had, I was having Gi issues and the medication was to help the GI issues, but it sent me to the emergency room and the doctor said, you don't, if you take antidepressants that can help your GI issues. And I thought, I don't need the antidepressants, I'm fine. They're saying, you're fine, but your stomach and your intestines, they'll benefit from it because they have lots of serotonin receptors and like, okay, let's take him. And I was like, Lo and behold, I, where's my narrative? And it was just like, oh. And it was like, I was like, could be a child again. I could create, I could run out. I, you know, I had a telescope and the garage that my wife's parents gave to me as a gift for the Venus when Venus transited the son in 2012. I was just explore with this. You don't see where it goes. And it was just a giving myself a pass to play and explore things that have been with me since childhood. Um, and so yeah, it started with the sun and it started with a tree and it's very childlike and, and you know, honestly, it's very unoriginal, but we all like to align the moon and the sun behind things and the tree and this and that. And I just gave myself permission to do that and I wasn't prepared where it would take me. And, and I just, I was, I had no agenda. I'm not creating a body of work. I don't have an exhibition schedule. I'm not trying to do anything with it. I just want to see where it would take me. And it took me on a journey I wasn't prepared for. Um, it moves has moved me more than an all my time with whales. Oh really? Yeah. Connecting, starting with the son. I don't even know where to begin, but yeah. Um, there was a moment where I was photographing the sun rising behind a six foot Jeffrey pine on half dome that had been photographing for the last four years. I've photographed the tree from a two and a half miles away with a telescope. And right. The idea is like, oh this get the sun in the tree and that's cool. And then it's the things I would see beforehand. I would see the way the sun, you wouldn't see the sun, but you would see the way it would illuminate the tree and then the edge of the granite right out until it goes out of the frame and cause it telescopes roughly like 2000 millimeter magnification. And then you would see before the center merges, you'd see the insects flying the look like stars. They're like, this guy's black by the way, everything's black except for this, this drama unfolding, this micro world I'm seeing from two and half miles away. And then birds would fly over airplanes that fly over and they would flash the sun and look like comments just rocketing through the frame. And so you're just connecting to all these things. And it was a day like that with half dome and this Jeffrey Pine where I looked over my shoulder, I'm waiting for the sun and I don't use a watch. I just look over my shoulder and can see the shadow coming down behind me on the valley, on the wall. Um, and the shadow hit the valley floor. And we started moving towards me and I kept looking over my shoulder, shoulder, looking at the shadow. And in a, in a moment I looked over and I, I swear I could feel a presence in that shadow. It's like earth Earth's rotation is evident in that shadow approaching me. Wow. And I felt a presence and as a shadow came up to me and move past me, um, I, I, for that moment, I could feel the cosmos experiencing itself through me. And then a moment later, it was, I felt experienced itself through me until there was no longer a me. And, um, yeah, that happened last year and after three years of just following the sun and it's forever changed the way I create now. And I don't even create any more I connect to, to, you know, reality or reality, um, into myself. Um, but you're, yeah.

Rubin:                        But you're using the photographs as a vehicle or is it as a part of that connection? Yes. Yeah. Yeah.

Suzanne:                  I think the sharing the connection, I mean, it seems like you get to share your connection with the world because we get to see these moments in a way that the rest of us aren't even, our eyes aren't even open for.

Bryant:                       Yeah, I hope so. You know? Um, initially I thought, well, if I can just create every day, it's a way to get myself out there and, and maybe it's a way back to the whales, but it was kind of more of just a way back to yourself. You know, your true self.

Suzanne:                  Well, what's so interesting is that when you've taken the, like the creature on our planet, um, and given them this like this soul and this, this texture that is sort of unseen, unless you're really there. Um, and this, you talked about this before, but just this like calmness in their expression, in their eyes, and then you kind of have moved to now obviously these large, um, orb that is, you know, in our, in our solar system is true and you've added this level of like texture and edge that, that I've never seen before. I've, I've, I've really never seen these photographs that there, and I don't know if it's the, the addition of them being black and white that adds this almost like abstractness abstractness of the, the contrast and like this texture. It's how do you really compelling. Yeah.

Rubin:                        Yeah. There's texture in the sun. Yes. Where it's almost always blown out every picture of the sun that humans, it's going to be blown out and exposed for all. Now for the ground. And here you've, I dunno, through a series of unbelievable solar filters have brought out the texture in the Cronin would add or what did you call that? The Corolla.

Bryant:                       Chromosphere and, uh, the, the krona we can say during the eclipse. Then there's the chroma sphere and there's different layers of the sun's surface that you could see through different filters. And yeah, I use a hydrogen alpha filter. Um, son's been very quiet for the last year, so I haven't done any imaging on the solar surface since. Yeah. Yeah. But you get, you get really connected to the service cause you'll see the storms and the spots and they move each day that I set up an image, you'll see it. You'll notice that the spot over a little bit more and a little bit more of that, you know, that son spending too. And um, wow. An amateur can do this, can get a filter easily. Yeah. Easily. Yeah. You could get a filter for $100 for if you have a telephoto Lens. Um, like if you have a 500 millimeter, like I have a two to 500 millimeter Lens, a Nikon that I use for my Sony cameras and it works beautifully. I put a doubler on it and a solar filter and you can see the surface and beautiful detail. Just what? Yeah.

Rubin:                        And those are straight shots. Those ones I saw with half with half dome and the Sun.

Bryant:                       Oh yeah, that's, yeah, there sure. Through a huge long lens. Right. The ones that online, uh, that I have online, some like the one was half dome, that's just one telescope and a solar filter. But to get to get the surface of the sun get its detail, to get the dynamic range of an eliminated atmosphere. Like whether there's high humidity and you have like a, you know, you have something in the air to that reflects light that makes it white. You know, it's not quite clouds but it's, it's something forming. So you want to get that and then you want to get a foreground subjects in focus. So I uh, for awhile it was using three cameras, so I'd use two at the same time for the sun and the atmosphere and the foreground subjects, kidding. I guess focal, dynamic range and then that illuminated dynamic range I guess. And then for the surface of the sun, I would either image it separately before, after these events. And to get the surface detail, you use a monochrome video camera and the sensor is really small and you can only image about one eighth of the sun's surface at a time and you'd capture about 4,000 video frames and you do that takes about an hour and a half and then you run it through a program that picks out the sharpest frames and stacks them into a 16 bit print quality tiff. And then a program like Photoshop can render it seamlessly into a disc. And then I can't do this with my phone. Uh, you could actually probably probably be very original. I don't know if anyone has yet. We can modify your phone with a monochrome sensor, tick box and call it cultural. Right. And what,

Rubin:                        I'm curious what, I mean, it's clear what inspires you or they're photographers who inspire you, who got you to here that taught you something.

Bryant:                       There are photographers who inspire me now, like not, not when I was up and coming. I mean, like when I was up and coming when I was just trying to connect to myself and my passion and purpose, you know, uh, you know, I don't know if you've heard of Bob Talbot? Hmm. It, he photographs whales in the eighties and nineties. And he always showed me, um, what's possible if you, if you care about your subject and his wealth photography stands out, there's just no, there's no comparison. There's no equivalent. I'm very sensitive to atmosphere, see surface reflectivity states and, uh, and the behavior of the whale or dolphin. Um, and, you know, and then know Nick Brandt

Suzanne:                  famous collection is it? And like the name is familiar. I, I'd read an interview you gave, actually need mentioned him before, so I googled him. Oh, okay. It's like the, the Talbot Collection and Talbert collection. Yeah. You're, I think you're, yeah, that's it. Yeah. They're definitely iconic images like the eye Ruben, I think you'd, if you, um, if you look at them, they're, they're, they're, they're images you've definitely seen before. Okay. He was like, from the eighties and nineties. Is that right?

Bryant:                       Yeah. And he moved on into filmmaking. And I think he made a couple of imax films and no, I don't know what he's doing. You know, I've only met him a couple of times and uh, yeah, so, uh, that he's influential early, but like, you know, someone like Nick Brant really inspired me. Um, again, it's like, you know, if you really care about a subject photographing nature, uh, as an art form is really hard. Um, I mean obviously just to find, to, to capture it in a way that's original and compelling and then to get out in the world is really hard.

Rubin:                        Was Nick Brandt a conservationist? Um, I don't remember my thinking of his picture is there are always, for some reason there's dead animals in them. Is that my just imagination?

Bryant:                       He's, he has done most of this flash photography, but he also has these amazing, like you talk about like the life size portraits. He does, uh, portraits. He's, he has done portraits of animals like lions. Like he'll sit next to him, wild animals and Cheetahs and, and just wait for that moment. You know, when the, like what the one with the line where he's waiting for something to happen and the wind picks up and the sun comes out from a cloud and it just, if he's using a, um, you know, uh, portrait lens on a medium format camera and um,

Rubin:                        and the lion.

Bryant:                       Yeah. Yeah. And so he, he's an amazing photographer and he, uh, he's done good with it. You know, he started a foundation that protects these animals. They, they hire rangers that, you know, hunt down poachers and I've always admired that. Um, cool. Cool. Yeah, yeah.

Suzanne:                  We have an expression wait to make it great. And I feel like you absolutely encapsulate that.

Bryant:                       It's, yeah, the one thing that I do, um, it is, uh, the for, I think for me to be able to see, to, to, to conceive what I do is like, I have to constantly emotionally decouple from all the financial influences and pressures to create work. And when I can remove that pressure and decouple from it, I see like I can all of a sudden it's like, you know, veil is lifted and, and, um, um, yeah. So I, I think that's really helps. Specially with a whale photography.

Rubin:                        You're really the antithesis of a commercial photographer. I'm sorry to say. You're, you're completely not trying to make, I mean, you're not out there doing this. Sounds terrible, doesn't it? It's hard to be an artist, right?

Bryant:                       It's hard. Yeah. Yeah. But it's so important, you know, and what you can, how you can, what you can connect, you know, what you can share with humanity. Things are so important that, that we can't see, you know, and uh, yeah.

Suzanne:                  Is there any place that I just, I'm so drawn to and just kind of almost in disbelief that you've made these amazing, um, portraits of, of whales one to one. Is there any place that we can go that we can see them? see, yes. Portraits.

Bryant:                       Um, the, I have, um, smaller portraits and smaller photographs on display. Uh, uh, Cape Cod at the focus gallery. Uh, that's the only gallery showing my well photography and it's shown you around.

Rubin:                        Wow. Okay. We'll put a link down to, so people who are on these phones of queue, can you get over there? Um, I see a behind you, a couple pictures, something we'd like to ask. Everyone who comes on the show is sure to for, to pick to describe two photographs that are on your wall right now in your home, one that you took and one that you did not take that photo.

Bryant:                       Okay. Yeah. Um, I can share this one right here behind me. Sure. Um, so I mentioned I spent 14 years to make 12 or no, 12 years to make 14 lifesize portraits. This is my only photograph above water of a whale. It's a well tail out of the water. It's entitled, a mother listens and it's a mother doing just that, most likely listening for other whales. And um, you know, it was a moment where I was completely stripped down emotionally, financially, everything. Um, I had left my job, cashed out, my retirement, sold everything I owned, um, and you know, my boat, everything, my car and I had tried for years to photograph whales in the tradition of Bob Talbot above water on Laura Bay, you know, with my own boat and a team of volunteers and all that. And here I am like trying to make a life size portrait and the whale is sticking her tail out of the water for 20 minutes and just tell us slowly spinning three 60 around me. And so I spent about three minutes with that vote with her above water trying to make this photo and I made it and you know it's this weird like you know, I sold my bowl but yet I'm floating alone in the ocean with us. Well making an above water photograph, you know like literally the, what is Ami is all I own. This camera, I have a laptop back on land but that's pretty much it. It's like just completely stripped down. And then I put that photograph away. I never thought about it. That was done in 2006 and I just focused on the portraits and I'm Cindy Bellino who owns the focus gallery, reached out to me in 2013 to say I'll represent your work if you really set photograph. And the thing that blows me away is that that photograph has sustained me for the last, you know, six years. Oh wait, it's sold out. We released it, um, in three different sizes in additions of 20, and there's only like two prince left. And that has allowed me to, yeah, just go all over and explore this new body of work and just keep going. So, so grateful to her. Yeah. Is that a, is that an archival print? Is that like a print behind you? Oh yeah. Yeah. That's one of the last prints that I have. It's not, not, not releasing it to the public, but, um, it'll probably stay with the body of work that I have that goes to museums. That's great. Then a beautiful storage. No, thank you. Yeah. Okay. And then when you didn't take, yeah, there's one right here. I don't shut, I show you, or if you could send us [inaudible]. I'd like to like you to post them if it's okay to, yeah, of course. But what's on your wall? Well, my wife Cheryl, um, really spent her formative years in, in the everglades. She's a planacologist. And um, before we met, she really grew attached to a photographer named Clyde butcher. His work is black and white as well, you know, landscape of the everglades of Florida nature, but he's very sensitive to atmosphere as well. And um, you know, and um, you know, it works with these giant view cameras and I'm really an amazing photographer, so we have a little one of his, um, uh, on our wall and I'll, I'll share a picture of that with you. And um, yeah, Cheryl has a bunch of his photographs. Oh. And it's just nice that his aesthetic is similar to mine in the way we connect with nature.

Suzanne:                  You said that you have a daily, um, photography practice. What does that entail? What do you do?

Bryant:                       Um, I don't know if I take pictures every day. I try to, um, definitely when I'm inspired, but um, you know, I just, especially when the sun's out, I can really just, I can just walk outside. And, and connect with earth's spin. It's rotation just by just sitting with the shadow and it looks static, but you just sit there and watch it move across asphalt across the cracks, things going out of the cracks. You just see the shadow move and it's like, and you start to wonder like, can anybody see this? Um, and then you look okay, so you see your head, you see the shadow cast over your head and you know, the sun is right there. So, um, you can, you know, I'm just talking about my driveway where I live. Um, I'll see a shadow of a branch and I'll go walk up to that shadow of the branch and tell my head is in the shadow. And then I just look over my shoulder and the branch is illuminated on both sides. You don't see this anymore. And then you see, you'll see insects and spider webs moving around and um, it's infinite. That's what I realized in, um, when, when I mentioned that moment earlier, when I felt the cosmos experience itself through me, it changed the way I see. And, um, it's changed the way I connect at, you know, um, yeah. So it's like you're connecting to the infinite and, and connects you to impossibilities that are infinite. So it's overwhelming. So I find that I had to put a governor on it or I don't take pictures cause it's too overwhelming. So I try to go out in small doses and go outside and um, yeah.

Rubin:                        You know, I, I talk sometimes in the show about the modulating force that a camera is that sometimes the energy oh yeah. In front of you is so to two great to experience directly whether it's sometimes it's love or sexual, sometimes it's personal but or a war happening and it's violent. But the camera transduces that in a way. And it's, and again I'm hearing you describe this, this sensitivity to something out there that's almost too much to experience in the camera. Is it opportunity to translate that into something we can kind of understand? Yeah, absolutely. Cool.

Suzanne:                  One last question. We like to ask all our guests, but if you could describe your photo in one word or sorry, your photography in one word, what word would you use?

Bryant:                       Oh, one word. You can hyphenate. Yeah, we're flexible. Is a self portrait. Um, hyphenated. Is that self portrait? Yeah. Wow. And, and yeah, that's beautiful and beautiful. This self is the illusion.

Bryant:                       I'll buy that. Okay. Brian, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming and joining us. You bring such a different perspective for people getting into photography. We've talked to commercial people, we talked to artists and educators and you're a perfect kind of another point, another point of view that I think will really be inspiring for people.

Bryant:                       Oh, well thank you and I look forward to putting your podcasts on on my long trips. Say somebody in the coming months.

Suzanne:                  Yeah, thanks. Yeah, absolutely. Well first and foremost, thank you to Brian. I think just talking to you has made me feel calmer and somehow more at peace with the world and I feel, I feel like that's the thing I struggle with in my photography is just is waiting and being patient. And so thank you so much. It was a really, really, really lovely chatting with you.

Closing:                     .


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