By: Stocksy

Good vibes and vibrant portraits with photographer Erin Brant

Join us as we sit down with Erin Brant to explore her approach to portrait photography. Erin’s knack for creating an inviting atmosphere shines through in her work, where she captures vibrant and authentic portraits filled with emotion. By fostering a relaxed environment and embracing the natural spontaneity of life, Erin skillfully brings out the genuine essence of her subjects, resulting in captivating images that speak volumes.

In your bio, you mention that you “aspire to put more positivity into the world,” and you are absolutely nailing that; your work oozes positivity and continues to put a smile on our faces. How do you create an environment where everybody beams with joy while having their portrait taken?

First of all, thank you for your kind words! It’s the highest compliment to have you see that in my work! I really try to bring my best energy to every shoot and I make sure to be very present with the people in front of my lens…even if that means putting the camera down to take some time to connect.

I find this to be especially important with children. If I show genuine interest in them and earn their trust, the session becomes more about having fun than getting any specific shot. When people forget that we are there to take photos I’ve achieved the optimal environment!

For many people, working with families with children can sound daunting because of the chaos it can bring. You lean into the beauty of the turbulent dynamic that can occur between close friends or family. What draws you to capture people in this lively style?

I’m a mom of 3 boys (ages 9, 16, and 19) so during most of my photography career there has been a backdrop of constant chaos! And I’ve learned to thrive in that environment. Children can be unpredictable, but they are so honest and fully who they are if we are supportive of that.

The best moments happen when I embrace and even encourage the uncertainty and chaos with families. I make sure that parents understand that I have no expectations about “good” behavior and nothing is off limits as long as everyone is being safe. And then I often let kids lead the way! If things start to get wild I know my next favorite photo is probably close at hand 🙂

A follow-up question to the previous question: how do you get your talent in a state where they feel comfortable embracing this liveliness as well? And do you have some tricks & tips for keeping the energy and rhythm flowing during a session?

It really comes back to the energy I’m bringing to a shoot. Humans tend to reflect back what they see and feel, so I’m not shy about letting people know that I’m excited to be with them and I constantly reassure and celebrate what I see in front of me! If a mom nuzzles her smiling child and I feel their connection I’m grinning ear to ear and/or squealing! If a child splashes water at the beach and the light is just right I’ll encourage them to playfully splash my way!

And on the flip side, if anyone seems uncomfortable I immediately change direction. We’ll move to a new location or do a different activity or even take a break if necessary. I never get tied to one specific outcome. I’d much rather make everyone super comfortable and see what unfolds as a result of that. I want people to enjoy the time they spend with me! It’s the best way to ensure that a family will shoot with me again.

We can only imagine how strong the lasting memories are for the people who worked together with you. Are there any beautiful moments that happened while working with you that stand out and have stuck with you?

There are certainly many that stand out. But the ones that have stayed with me are the ones of people who have since passed away. Several years ago a family in our community asked me to photograph their dying son’s last few hours on earth, and it was so hard and so beautiful all at once. I’m not sure that I could ever do that again, but I’m glad that I was able to show up in that way at the time.

Do you have any goals or plans that you are excited about?

My current goals are very simple. I want to be as present as possible with my children and I want to take at least one vacation with all of us together!

What is your motivation/driving force to create your work?

My driving force is to show that there is still so much good in this world, even though it often seems so terrible and broken. Sometimes I do it for other people, but it’s often for myself. I need to see and share joy. It gives me life.

If you could execute any idea — with no budget restraints or logistical limits — what would it be?

I would really love to do a personal photography project focused on motherhood and disability. I’d travel all over the world to show the joys and struggles of mothers with disabilities as well as people mothering children with disabilities. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart and I know I’d connect with so many amazing people!

Do you have any hidden talents besides creating your wonderful work?

I don’t know if I’m a restless person or just an insatiable creative type, but I’m always trying to learn something new. I’ve recently gotten back into painting. I’m about to tie-dye some thrift store finds. I want to learn embroidery! I’m not sure any of those count as hidden talents. I really wish I could say I was singing in a band or something like that! Maybe one day 🙂

How do you ensure that your work stays enjoyable and that you don’t burn out on creating new content?

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure this out. I let myself take breaks. I’m actually taking a little bit of a break right now after a very busy season of life. And even though I’m not shooting as much, there’s always something to do in stock. Right now I’m revisiting my archive and trying to catch up on metadata (thank goodness for the endlessly patient editor team haha)! 😀

What is the one bit of advice you wish you had known from the start?

I wish I had leaned into my own unique perspective way earlier. When I started out the things that I was drawn to (joy, vibrant color, families) weren’t really popular or even respected in the photography industry. It took me a few years to realize that being different is an advantage, especially in stock.

Creative blocks can happen to everybody; what works for you to get out of them?

I do 2 very specific things: I get into my body (usually with exercise) and I get out into the world (especially nature). There is inspiration waiting for us everywhere if we are willing to open our eyes and our hearts to it! If those things don’t work I let myself rest and that usually does the trick.

Is there something that you can not go without while creating new work? And why is this so important?

I think the only thing I truly need is a willing subject. Good things always happen when I show up ready to connect with and see someone else!

Do you have any advice for contributors just starting out at Stocksy?

Trust that you already have everything you need to be successful here. Submit anything and everything and see what works for you! If you’re not sure what to create, the briefs are always a great place to start. There is no one-size-fits-all journey, and trial and error will help you find your own unique path.
You’ve got this!

See more of Erin Brandt's work