Shot by the Bradford
Amsterdam based photographer Christopher Bradford is a genius at capturing beauty, emotion and atmosphere. His work has been featured in various mags, such as Nakid, Sticks and Stones, Last Daze and Flanelle. We wanted to take a closer look behind the camera and got him to answer some questions…
Check out his Instagram here!
When did you discover, you want to be a photographer?
I’ve been shooting since design school, which was around 2001. I was lucky enough to have had an analogue education on an old Pentax K1000, complete with dark rooms and enlargers. Being schooled in the whole process from the beginning gave me a good foundation into how film works - how far you can push it, what you can do with it. Some people are afraid of film. It’s really a different mindset than digital. Each frame requires so much more thought. I’ve struggled to switch to digital, wavering between the two until I decided that I need to solely shoot film for a bit. After school, I focused on design. My love of film was reignited in 2009 when my friend Doug lent me the same camera I'd learned on to document the lead up to my wedding - so I guess the passion has really grown from there.
Please tell us about your photographic journey during the 80’s and 90’s.
My dad owned film cameras and a massive camera book which I still have to this day (although it's not quite as huge as I remember it being!) I think he always fancied himself as a photographer. I was always intrigued with the equipment. Back then you would post off your film to SupaSnaps, who would print your film and send you a free replacement film. How I would love that service now. haha. I remember the wait for the returning film and getting back prints. I found the whole process super exciting. I think the colour of film stayed with me; the tones and grain of film photos are really unrivalled.
Which people influenced your photography?
I have a ton of different influences, be it film photographers or fashion photographers - again I love the work people do, but my inspirations really come from my day-to-day life. I would say my main inspiration is my wife. I think she has pushed me, supported me and encouraged me to be better, think better and see better. She has a radiant positivity, something that’s been so infectious to me over the years… it’s slowly started to sink in to this sometimes stubborn, grumpy British brain. So I would say that is what I carry with me.
Where do you seek your inspiration?
I would say I find inspiration in a variety of mediums. I think a lot of disciplines overlap, like music, design, fashion and pop culture. You see these trends really cross over into each other, so I would say that my inspirations come from that. I think my background in art and design has really influenced my photography - I continually look for storylines, emotions or just an atmosphere in my work.
In which way did your career change when you moved to Amsterdam?
I would say it has changed a great deal. Firstly, I'm starting to actually be able to find some work-life balance. That was the whole incentive for the move. My wife and I really worked too much in Vancouver and Amsterdam has helped to really put that into perspective. Being in Amsterdam and being so close to big fashion cities has really helped my progress as a creative. The Dutch life is really about separating work and life. They seem to do it so well. I like to think we have adopted that belief system. Secondly, I’ve become more serious about shooting. I’m actively looking for an agent and want to shoot more commercial work.
In 2010 you launched your own creative agency. Tell us about it!
Ahhh, The New Gentlemen’s Club. I had been working for various agencies, and was never satisfied working for people. Not to say I thought I could do it better, but I definitely felt I could create a supportive environment for creatives and solve business problems with good creative ideas. TNGC was about the new face of business, the old guard of business was disappearing. It was time for a new ‘entrepreneur’. My wife (a copywriter) and I ran it for about 2 years. It was some of the hardest work we’ve done. It really zapped the life force out of us for a while, but we’re back and doing things a lot more simply now.
What are your plans for the future?
Loaded question, that. Haha. I’ve always got things going on; I’ve never really been able to sit still. Right now, I’ve got my Art Direction work, so the idea is to start a micro agency here in Amsterdam with my wife. We work together so well it just seems like the natural progression. Photo wise, I want to shoot more commercial work, to have an exhibition and to produce a few books. I’ve also recently started a magazine called It Is What It Is (@iiwiimag on Instagram). It’s currently only digital, but we have plans to take it to print this year. I want to combine my Design/AD work with my photography and throw in some video work too. As long as I keep being creative, combining my talents, and producing cool shit, I'll be happy.