Adam Johnson October 15, 2021 Blood Sweat and Gears
“Photographer spotlight” A monthly series spotlighting the man/woman behind the lens of Street Trucks Magazine. This month we are featuring Brandon Burrell.
ST: Introduce yourself. Let people get to know the man behind the lens
BB: I am Brandon Burrell and from Asheville, NC. I’ve been into custom vehicles since high school. I don’t hunt/fish/ride dirt bikes/golf/etc, my life revolves around custom vehicles. I have a wife, Kristin, who supports me traveling all over taking photos of custom vehicles. Luckily, she loves the custom scene as much as I do.
ST: When did you get into photography?
BB: I started shooting for SSM (Street Source Mag) in 2001 with a cheap digital camera and let me upgrade to a much better DSLR in no time. That led me shooting for a couple other online car/truck sites, which quickly led me to shooting for major automotive magazines such as Street Trucks, Minitruckin, Truckin, Hot Bike, etc. My very first magazine shoot and very first show coverage ever for a print magazine was for Street Trucks. So, I’d say this magazine has led me to be able to shoot a LOT of cool things for the past two decades.
ST: Do you have any covers and if so, how many?
BB: Yes, I have a total of 34 covers. My first one was the February 2005 cover of Truckin. Out of those 34 covers, 3 of them are of my own personal builds.
ST: Who are some of your influences?
BB: Johnny O is hands down the one photographer that helped mold me and shaped my photo style. But there are a few guys like Brian McCormick and Wes Allison that I have always admired, even back in the early days.
ST: When you go do a shoot, what’s in the camera bag?
BB: I am a Canon guy. My main body is an 80d and I rotate through a few L lenses.
ST: Describe your lighting when and if you decide to use it.
BB: I’d say 9 out of 10 shoots I will use natural lighting. I feel that gives a more “real life” view of the vehicle. But, from time to time I break out my Alien Bee strobes when I want a different look for a shoot.
ST: Describe somethings when you are at a show that makes a truck standout to you.
BB: Details! If I vehicle is “complete”, meaning ever aspect was touched on the truck, it is in a different category for me. It doesn’t have to be the newest, most expensive, or craziest build ever. Just making sure that every box is checked draws my attention. I am crazy OCD with my personal builds, so its cool seeing other vehicles having the same level of detail I strive for.
ST: Do you have a favorite shoot you have done? Describe it.
BB: That’s a hard question. I’ve done so many shoots with so many people over the past 20 years. I do have favorite aspects of a lot of shoots though. Shooting inside Little Shop MFG at 3 am while people slept in beds of trucks, just to get that right shot for a cover and like 2 hours of sleep in 2 days was fun. Trying not to set Brandon Perry on fire while spraying fire out of a paint gun was a little scary. Shooting Brian Brubaker dragging his Tacoma down a main road with a cop chasing him with lights on (with full permission from the city) also stands out. Shooting a DUB Magazine cover with Travis Pastrana and hanging out with him for the day is also up on the list. The crazy part is you can show me any feature shoot I’ve done, and I can tell you where I was and what we did during the shoot. Its more about the laughs and connections with these vehicle owners as well as their friends and family there for the shoots that resonate with me.
ST: What are your thoughts on the current and future state of the industry?
BB: I see a lot of the “full custom” vehicles declining. Its more about “lets go out and act a fool and not care if our ride is clean or even working right”. I miss the days of rolling 10-20 vehicles deep to every event, making sure everyone was up to par and ready for the show. I do see the trend of old school coming back as well. Personally, making sure there are kids that find what we do is “cool” is where we should go with this industry. If kids quit caring about custom vehicles, the industry is dead. I always make it a point to include any kid that asks questions. Be that neighbor, uncle or older brother that has the cool ride. Then explain how it works to kids showing interest. Doing what the “internet” says is cool, is not cool.
ST: What advice would you give to new photographers?
BB: Pick up a camera, find someone that has done automotive photography and ask them what, how and why they shoot like they do. Watch a photo shoot in person, ask why settings are what they are. If it wasn’t for people like Johnny O and Mike Alexander letting me shadow them at shoots, watching where the sun was and what settings they used, I’d never know what to do. I learned so much at other peoples shoots and taught myself the rest. Don’t be scared to try new things while shooting. Find a style you like and make it your own. It says a lot when you can see a photo and say “so and so took that photo” without even seeing the by line.
ST: Have you built any custom vehicles?
BB: Yes, I’ve built several since 1994 when I got my first vehicle that became a magazine car. I’ve also built 4 personal SEMA vehicles and had a huge hand in a buddies SEMA vehicle as well. I’ve had 16 magazine articles of the vehicles I’ve built over the years.
Here are the magazine vehicles I’ve built over the years;
ST: Last minute thoughts you would like to give to the street trucks community.
BB: KEEP BUYING MAGAZINES!! I can’t stress that enough! I’ve seen a ton of magazine titles go away due to the internet. There’s nothing like flipping through a paper magazine and seeing your own ride or even better, walking down a magazine rack and see one of your photos on a cover.
ST: Where can people follow you on social media
Check out some of Brandon’s favorite shoots!