Brad Wagner has been influenced by the rather romantic idea from theatre that when you act you create a living soul—with a past, present, and future. That's how he likes to think of his photos— creating characters with their own story and lives and freeze them in moment. “I see each of my images as having a duration longer than that 1/250th of a second or so that the shutter's open, says Brad. “I want my viewers to be able to immerse themselves in the worlds and characters of the photos I create and discover stories within them.”
For Brad, photography is all about escape. He believes it provides a doorway through which people can step into a different reality and forget about their own lives and troubles. “I believe in finding wonder in the world about us, the idea that each person, tree, or hill has infinite potential.”
Brad was raised in the small town of Havre, Montana, and still lives nearby, in Missoula. He’s been photographing in some form ever since probably about 8th grade. “That's when I bought this strange digital video/still camera (the body had separate lenses) so that my friends and I could make funny videos. I began testing out the still side of the camera taking photos of the what you would expect from someone who knew nothing about photography to take photos of, flowers, my pet rabbits, a frog (which I was very proud of.)”
At the suggestion of one of my friends, he entered some of his work into the county fair and won "Best in Show" for a picture of a friend. From that point on he was hooked on photography.
He veered off the creative path a bit and went to college to pursue a more "realistic" career path in chemistry, and than changed his major to Spanish. He thought the new major would give him more time to pursue photography. It did, as well as an excuse to travel and continuing to capture his experiences.
In 2011 he stumbled upon Alex Stoddard's 365 project on Flickr. “I had never even considered self portraiture, nor did even know what conceptual photography was, but I was utterly amazed at the work that this 16 year old kid was making on a daily basis.” He quickly began his own 365 project a couple of months later.
“I loved having an excuse to run away from the ‘real world’ everyday and adventure around trying to figure out what to do for my photo that day,” he recalls. “I spent a lot of my time in the forest as I felt it provided the perfect timeless backdrop my ideas and was an abundant source of inspiration (you'd be surprised how many photos were inspired by the shape of a tree.)”
As he grew as a photographer and developed, he found that love for creating different characters in his photos.
Brad has recently been obsessed with trying to fuse photography and literature. “I’ve been working on telling short stories through series of photos and what I refer to as poems- images using visual metaphor and symbology and all the sort of fun stuff.”
Brad says he sees the “poems,” as an act of rebellion. “I've been obsessed with blood. I showed one of my professors a photos in which I had used a bit of blood (fake of course), and he said it was maybe a bit ‘heavy handed.’ So I made a series using it.”
He’s also recently fallen in love with lighting things by candle/lantern light. “Other things I'm just constantly obsessed with are wings, trees, opposing forces, the elements, and fauns.”
By the end of the year, brad is planning on releasing a book of short stories and poems told through photos. He’s also planning on submitting his work to galleries—since he’s now graduated with that degree in Spanish.
This profile of Brad Wagner is part of FIVE THOT's Pro Portrait series where we feature creative professionals and the story behind their craft.