FS Original: Brownie Harris Talks Shooting Film

FS Original:  Brownie Harris Talks Shooting Film

www.fstoppers.com This week I thought I'd mix up the Fstoppers format a bit to introduce you to a good friend of mine and an amazing photographer Brownie Harris.  Brownie is based out of Wilmington, North Carolina and shoots all sorts of projects all over the country. I think I was first introduced to his work through the praise of some of his previous clients that were based here in Charleston. A name like Brownie is not easy to forget so I thought I'd call him up and see if he was interested in sharing his work with the Fstoppers audience.

Before I let Brownie win you over with his charasmatic stories and spectacular images, let me give you a little background on Mr. Harris. For starters Brownie is one of those "been there and seen it all" sort of guys. From portraits of Bill Clinton and James Earl Jones to commercial shots of multimillion dollar satellites and industrial assembly lines, Brownie's images definitely make you stop and do a double take. His approach to simplistic portrait lighting might make you think he is no fancy lighting pro but do not be naive. During this interview I could tell he had a lot of tricks up his sleeve when in comes to elaborate lighting, and he even told me one of his shots required 27 dynalite heads! What is even more amazing is he learned how to do all of this without the use of that LCD screen we all depend on so much. I have no idea how he did what he did in the age of film but I think it is an amazing testament to the creativity and insight Brownie puts into his work.

Since our format is 10 minute short films, there was really no way I could squeeze everything into this single video. However, I think it is quite easy to see how much knowledge Brownie Harris has to offer young and established photographers alike. And for you collectors out there, you have to see the number of antique cameras this guys has! It's amazing, and he has a story for each of those as well.

You can view more of Brownie Harris's work at www.brownieharris.com

Fstoppers Profile: Brownie Harris from FStoppers on Vimeo.

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FStoppers, 10 minutes was wonderful, but it made me want a full-length feature film! I'm certain you enjoyed your time with Brownie as there's so much to learn and absorb from him. Yes, he's "been there, seen that" and then some. But he's so relevant to today's photographic community as well. During my work with Brownie, I was most fascinated by the time he spends getting to know his subjects before he shoots them. That ability to connect and help someone truly relax makes for the most amazing portraiture. Cheers to you for this wonderful glimpse into a national treasure. Best, Pamela

I've had the privilege of working with Brownie on a number of projects through my design business. He is a remarkable and extremely talented photographer. Whenever we collaborated on a magazine article, brochure or website, the results was outstanding. Some of my proudest portfolio pieces came from the integration of Brownie's photography. He has so many stories and this video does a good job capturing his diversity and experience.

Brownie, thanks for everything and all we've accomplished together over the years.

Love the interview. Brownie photographed myself and my son and is amazing to work with. Captures the spirit of the person, not just the picture, and that is true ART. Love his work.

Over the last several weeks I have been thinking about what to write about Brownie and it’s no easy task as there are so many special stories that I could share. I first was introduced to Brownie while working at UNC Wilmington. Right off the bat I knew Brownie was the man we needed because of his passion and vision for the University. We worked on various “projects” from head shots to ball games, scenic shots around campus and around Wilmington and everything in between. To my knowledge in the 50 year history of UNCW this was the first time the university had been documented with film for a full year. The most interesting shot we did was supposed to be a “diverse” group of students in a very simple shot “just sitting looking up into Brownies camera”. This was a very interesting shot because only 1 of our 15 “student models” showed up. I will never forget Brownie and me scrambling to find 14 “diverse” students on a campus that was, at the time only made up of several hundred minority students out of about 10,000. After only about 10 minutes of asking just the students that walked into the building we had the perfect group and got the shot in just a matter of seconds. The following day after shooting this “diversity” picture we found that one of the students, that we just happened to find that afternoon was killed on her way home to visit her family. As a fitting tribute to the student the family agreed to let UNCW publish the picture as part of the annual UNCW Viewbook for prospective students. This was one of the most talked about pictures in the entire book, a book made up of over a years worth of Brownies work at UNCW. Several months after the Viewbook was released this special picture popped up again. This time on CBS on The Late Show with David Letterman as part of the Top 10 List (Letterman called this “diverse” group of students “his Late Show interns”). Looking back almost 10 years later, this very simple shot, in my opinion turned out to be the most “spirited” and “real” shot that we produced over an entire years worth of pictures. This very simple shot is just another example of the ability Brownie Harris has to be able to get that perfect shot. As Brownie always says, “All we need is one” just like some of his well known pictures of famous folks like JFK, Jr., David Brinkley, Frank Capra, Jr., Pat Hingle and this particular case the not so famous “diversity girl”. Brownies vision and ability to show the soul and spirit of someone helps them live forever. I am proud to call Brownie Harris a true friend and hope you will someday have a chance to meet this special man.

Great interview so happy to know you and be able to call you my friend. Great pictures you're truly gifted and talented. Your work with September's Mission for Voices, taking protrait pictures of families who lost loved ones on 9/11 will be a lasting Legacy to us and those we lost. We were so lucky to have such wonderful pictures taken by someone so talented and well respected as you. We will be forever grateful. thank you to you and Howard my wonderful Board Member for introducing us to you.
Monica Iken

Marvelous video.
I really enjoyed it.
There just seems to be a "soul" to black and white film that I don't see duplicated in digital work, and I really feel it looking at Brownie's b/w portraits. It was a pleasure and privilege to see Brownie's work and listen to him talk about it.



That was awesome. Thanks for sharing this with us. I really enjoyed watching this interview.

Inspiring. I'm part of a local photo coop and I'm thinking of using this as a lead-in to future discussions. Thanks for posting!

Patrick Hall's picture

Let us know how it goes Juan. I'd also encourage you to tell your photography friends to start filming interesting BTS and how to videos during their next photoshoots.

What an interesting interview. I really enjoyed the time we had together in the shoot you did with me,my dog "Misty" and the duck calls. That was so much fun and you were able to capture the feeling of the hunt and the expressions of the Labrador Retriever. I hope to get out to your place and see your collection of cameras. Great to have shared those times with you and I hope we can get together soon

Excellent interview. Thank you guys for your hard work.