Text: Fusion | Photos: One Of The Brave
Rooftops, mountain peaks, hard to reach places and “DANGER – DO NOT ENTER” signs seem to encourage One Of The Brave to explore the unknown and find out what’s on the other side. His mantra—to live a great story; and with his camera, he’s documenting every step of the way. From portraits to sunsets, history and architecture, the pictures he captures are truly inspirational. But, who exactly is this person photographing these incredible sights? He’s somewhat of a street artist, incognito—a daredevil getting up on structures to shoot beautiful images for the rest of the world to see. Under conditions of anonymity, One Of The Brave spoke with us earlier this month about his camera and creative outlet.
What inspires you to shoot?
My photography is a byproduct of my life. I can be triggered visually by a scene in a movie, or another photographer’s work or I can be reading a book and an idea for a shot will come from the text. I’m definitely inspired and influenced by those around me. I’m a sponge and I tend to absorb the ideas and styles of those that I spend time with.
How did you develop your style?
I’m not sure that I have a signature style. My photography is a product of my life and my environment. I attempt to present unique perspectives of my surroundings. I hope that the images will cause the viewer to wonder what happened before and after the shot. Usually, I create that wonder by going to places that most believe aren’t possible to get to. In a way, I guess I want them to question what they know.
Does your photography have a message?
It’s just my life. Some people have photos of weddings, birthdays and family reunions. I have photos of me and my friends hanging out. We just hang out in hard to reach places.
You’re notorious for getting up on rooftops, which experience has been your favorite?
You always remember your first. My first attempt couldn’t have gone any better. I walked in the front door of a hi-rise building in Miami, walked right by security, into the elevator and then the doors closed. I tried to select a floor but I needed a key fob to activate the elevator. The doors opened and a maintenance man stepped into the elevator, swiped his fob and asked me, “What floor?”—57 please. Straight to the top. The whole ride I was wondering about the security camera in the elevator. When I got to the roof the door was propped open with a brick. I walked right out and jumped up on the ledge. In less than 5 minutes, I went from lobby to ledge and I was staring down to the ground 615 feet below.
Before I started roof topping and exploring I wasn’t aware of the all present cameras. When I started spending time in places that I wasn’t supposed to be, I realized that cameras are everywhere, and I was convinced they were all pointed right at me. I expected that any second a highly trained security force would dispatch from their viewing room to halt my activities. I came to realize that the cameras, much like locks, are ropes on elephants.
What advice can you give someone who wants to pursue photography?
Technology has leveled the field. With a small investment and 3 to 6 months of studying and practice you, can be an above average photographer. Start with what you have, be that a cell phone or a point and shoot. Learning and practicing the fundamentals doesn’t require a bunch of gear. Learn the rules so that you can then break them.
If you want to turn that into a business then please second shoot and assist an established photographer that you respect. Take time to learn the business because that can make the difference between success and failure more than your photography skills. If you think you’re going to be rich and famous, then you should know that the median salary of a photographer is around $32k.
For me photography is something that I have to do. It’s a compulsion. It’s something that I do first and foremost for myself.