How Did They Do That: Brian Oldham

Harrison Jacobs

 "An Audience of One"

 In How Did They Do That?, we talk to up-and-coming photographers about some of their most incredible photos to find out the secrets to what makes a powerful image in today’s visual world.

Brian Oldham is a twenty-year-old photographer with a knack for producing powerful, conceptual portraits that blend dreams and reality. His photographs use multiple exposures and digital sleights of hand to create dreamscapes that capture the detritus of our subconscious—ladders to the sky, subterranean tombs, dreams of flight—and make it real.

When asked where he comes up with his concepts, Oldham put it simply.  “I come up with ideas of things I want to see, which aren’t happening in this world that I want to make happen.”

Oldham, though currently enrolled at California State: Fullerton, has lined up a rather impressive list of clients in a short period of time: Harper Collins Publishing, Simon & Schuster, Llewellyn Worldwide LTD, MNSTR Brand Strategy and Digital Stories. For now, however, Oldham intends to focus on his fine-art photography and his studies.

“An Audience of One”

Oldham, who lives in Orange County, California, had been imagining for a while an image that would use an old ladder that he had in his backyard. The idea was to find a way to make the ladder appear as if it was suspended in mid-air without supports. To add a focal point and some drama to the image, he wanted to have a model sitting on top of the ladder.

He came up with the idea of shooting in front of a ledge overlooking the southern part of the valley in Orange County, which happened to be located about a ten minute hike behind his house. This would provide a visually interesting background that would frame the other-worldliness of the ladder. He carried the ladder up the hike and brought along the model, a fellow photographer, and his boyfriend Alex Stoddard to assist (Some may recognize Alex Stoddard from this feature in September Rangefinder).

Once they found a suitable place to put the ladder, he and Alex lifted the ladder above their heads while the model sat on the end and braced herself on the edge of the ladder for support. After taking several images with the model on the ladder, Oldham then took additional photos of only the ladder suspended and then only the scene itself. He ended up with around ten source images which he then put into Adobe Photoshop. In Photoshop, using masks and layers, he painted both he and Alex out of the image so that only the model on the ladder remained. To see exactly how much he painted out, check out the source images below:

And here is the final:

Lighting: Natural lighting, shot at 10am on partly cloudy day
ISO: 100
Shutterspeed: 1/6400
Aperture: f/1.4



PDN August 2016: The Fine-Art Photography Issue



Tout VTS


Tout VTS


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