Behind the Lens

Five Minutes With Brandon Lopez

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When we travel (those were the days!), we tend to snap away, recreating the journey and stowing away the details, knowing that we'll come back often… if only through our photos. But when we do look back, what sparks joy? While we often go for the landmarks, we find the real magic in the little things: the café on the corner, candids of companions, street vendors, new smiles. These are the micro-moments that beg us to travel, bringing us back, again and again.

At the end of the day, there's an art to celebrating a place — marked by being present in the moment and staying open to the unexpected. And while there's no right way to go about it, we're lucky to learn from our resident designer and photographer, @brandon.brightside, who's taught us more than a thing or two about capturing life through the lens.

Here, we sit down with Brandon to talk about the way he approaches new places, his tips for taking photos, and some of the many ways he gives his own journeys permanence, through print.

If you’re focused less on finding or taking the most immaculate, Instagrammable travel photos, you start to see all of them together as a body of work...



Why do you take so many photos when you travel?

Brandon: Whether it’s 30 minutes or 30 playlist-ready hours away, the best part of taking so many photos is having all the stories to look back on and share — an early morning, an old stretch of highway, a long conversation, how the light hung in the air that day, a palpable sense of gratitude.

Photo by Brandon Lopez of arid mesa landscape
Photo of Brandon Brightside

How do you bring out the personality and character of a place through your images?

Brandon: It mostly depends on who I’m with and how we are experiencing it together. Most important to me is capturing and remembering all of the jokes and laughs and miles, late nights and early mornings, with the people that made the trip more than just nice landscapes or sunsets. (Solo trips are definitely great too.)

Photo by Brandon Lopez of sunlit coastal cliffs
Photo by Brandon Lopez of couple standing on ledge by ocean
There's something about taking even just an hour to go back through all of the raw, unedited, blurry, in-between-the-highlights photos...


How do you choose which photos to print?


Brandon: A good place to start is creating a shared album with friends or family on the trip. It’s a great place for gathering everyone’s photos. I never used to do this. But it helps to see everyone's perspectives, what caught their eye, and probably a candid or two of yourself.

The choosing itself can sometimes seem like a grueling process — it’s the anxiety of which photos are even good enough to print. We obviously all have our favorites that we can’t wait to share on the internet, but there's something about taking even just an hour to go back through all of the raw, unedited, blurry, in-between-the-highlights photos that makes recapping a trip so special to me.

iPhone album of photos by Brandon Lopez
Grid of road trip photos by Brandon Lopez

Trips can fly by so fast, and there's always a balance of taking (or editing) photos versus just enjoying where you are in that moment. Around a week or so after a trip, when routine starts to fall back in line and catching up on life is over, I’ll sit down and go through all of the photos to mark the moments while they’re fresh. I take time to scroll through all of the favorites and unexpected shots, make a few edits or crops along the way, and see which ‘spark joy,’ so to speak. I like to save doing this for a slow weekend morning.

Trips can fly by so fast, and there's always a balance of taking photos versus just enjoying where you are in that moment.


You print a lot of your travel photos when you get back from a trip. What's your favorite way to put them in print and why?

Brandon: After every trip, I like to gather all the photos I want to print from the shared album and print them all on Everyday Prints. It’s a really nice way to have all of my favorites to send as postcards to friends or displayed on my walls. For bigger trips, I like to put together a book. I collect photo books from photographers all over the world, so it's nice to have at least a few of my own.

Trio of photos by Brandon Lopez



Would you be okay with us flipping through one of your books?

Brandon: Of course. Here is a Signature Layflat Album I made of a trip with one of my close friends, Madeleine, down the west coast.





Do you think about photographing people and landscapes differently?

Brandon: When taking photos either of people, landscapes, or both, I’m looking for textures, patterns in light, color, or how they’re all interacting in the environment. This, in landscape photos, is sometimes a small section or a cropped view of the full photo. When photographing people, I try to capture them in the element — usually somewhat candid — showing a laugh or a reaction to the scenery instead of a posed moment.

Two sprawling landscape photos by Brandon Lopez
Photo of man standing inside of rock structure by Brandon Lopez
Photo by Brandon Lopez of velvet-clad woman sitting on endless yellow stairs
Photo by Brandon Lopez of sun peaking throw row of tall pines alongside the road

What's one photo tip you'd share with people who want to feel more confident in their travel photos?

Brandon: Don’t overthink it. It's nice to have that silly photo, the one that wasn't properly exposed or where you missed focus. If you’re focused less on finding or taking the most immaculate, Instagrammable travel photos (as I have to constantly remind myself), you start to see all of them together as a body of work: a story you can look back on often and recall not only the joy or new perspective, but also the smell or taste of a favorite recipe.

Two beachside photos taken by Brandon Lopez
Photo by Brandon Lopez of hands shooting glittery beach ball into basketball hoop
Two coastal photos by Brandon Lopez of row of palm trees and bay area bridge
Two photos by Brandon Lopez of girl peaking head out of jeep window and pine-clad rocky hills

Where are you headed first when travel opens back up?

Brandon: I’m originally from New Mexico, which has so many hidden gems of its own. When travel opens back up, I’m definitely going to a number of places throughout NM and the Southwest.

Don’t overthink it. It's nice to have that silly photo, the one that wasn't properly exposed or where you missed focus.





Ready to Join Brandon?

Artifact Uprising photo projects on wooden photo ledge






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