A Conversation With Bradley Calder
creative residing in the Hollywood Hills. We recently spent
some time catching up with him about his career,
creative style and what he does
when he's not creating.
Franco: Tell me about yourself Bradley.
Bradley: My name is Bradley J. Calder and I recently celebrated my mid-quarantine 26th birthday. I’m originally from Las Vegas but have been in LA for the past 8 years. I originally came out here to study Art History and Visual Media and gradually found work as a video editor, fashion photographer, director, and creative consultant. I currently live in Laurel Canyon and am always trying to navigate what it means to be an image creator in a constantly changing visual landscape.
Franco: Haha happy belated birthday! I celebrated a mid-quarantine birthday myself. Quite the experience I’d say.
Since we’re on that topic, how has quarantine been for you and more specifically how would you say has it affected your workflow and creativity?
Bradley: Happy quarantine birthday to you as well! This quarantine has been really life-altering for me. Professionally, it has been difficult to find work as an independent creative as well as find inspiration to continue making things. But those professional restrictions have actually been beneficial for me. I’m a firm believer that not making things is equally as important as making things when you are in the creative industry. You need down-time to get new experiences, develop alternative perspectives, and find inspiration to bring to the table once you are ready to make things again. It’s forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate what is truly important in my life. Instead of constantly trying to participate in the rat-race of this industry, the pandemic has allowed me to focus on my personal relationships, mental and physical health, and setting future goals for myself!
Franco: Thats a great perspective on it, quarantine definitely was tough on me as a creative as well but now when I look back on things it was a well needed break from exactly what you said, the rat race.
Let’s touch upon your career a bit.
First and foremost, you’re one of my favorite creatives. You have a very distinct, eye-catching style. So how does Bradley Calder do it?
Bradley: This quarantine has been tough on a whole lot of people. But I know we will all persevere and come out stronger on the other side! Wow thank you so much! I deeply admire your work as well. It’s always great being able to cross paths with like-minded individuals! And wow that is such a tough question. When I approach making images I like to start with sharing references with whoever I’m collaborating with. It’s important to have an archive of references going into a shoot and I’ve found that my Art History teachings have actually helped on that front! In terms of how the images look, I am constantly focusing on contrast and texture. I want my imagery to warm but dark, cool but approachable, new but familiar, etc. I think those juxtapositions are engaging for a viewer. Also, we are dealing with a mostly 2D medium consumed on small devices, so the more depth and texture you can include in an image the more compelling it will be! Man, I hope that didn’t doing too pompous haha.
Franco: All the things you stated are so apparent in your work. Your work always feels very textured and dynamic.
Since most of our work now a days is consumed on small devices like you just stated and places like Instagram, do you feel like that way of consumption affects your work in any type of way? I know it affects mine. I often find myself shooting certain photos with Instagram in mind, even “cropping” with my fingers if I’m shooting digital.
Bradley: I most certainly agree with you! I think we are all affected - whether consciously or not - by the digits platforms we post on. If we view Instagram as a virtual gallery or portfolio to publish our work, we are all bound by the crop, resolution, font, and all-around display constraints of the platform. When I’m working with musicians, I always bring up the thought that font treatments are becoming increasing obsolete. The name, title, and credit fonts are already embedded in the platforms that we now consume music. I think we will see a steady decrease in album art and music videos with fonts superimposed over the imagery.
Franco: Thats really interesting, and it’s kind of crazy that the more I think about it I almost never see fonts on album covers (at least I can’t name any off the top of my head), since all the information you need is on whatever streaming service you use. You’ve had several big projects within the music industry, can you touch upon some of your favorite ones?
Bradley: I’m a big believer of setting goals and intentions! Some of the projects I am most proud of came from announcing that I want to do something, and it was spoken into existence. For instance, when I first started taking photography seriously I stated that I wanted to shoot for a particular brand. Less than a year later, that happened. Just last year I stated that I wanted to direct a music video. By the end of the year, I directed a music video for a major artist. Now, I’m not saying that all you have to do is wish upon a 💫 and everything you dream will come true. There is most certainly a lot of work you have to do to accomplish things. But I think announcing them and setting near-future resolutions for yourself is incredibly helpful!
Franco: I’m always amazed at how the universe will do that. I used to feel like the opportunities that have come my way have been happy accidents, but I now realize that I’ve kind of done the same but with less conviction haha. So to my understanding you’re full time freelancing, how is that lifestyle and how is it compared to lets say.. a 9-5?
Bradley: Yeah man I’m full-time freelance. I honestly wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s most certainly difficult and stressful at times, but I love having the freedom to dictate my schedule! I feel like it’s difficult to have a 9-5 in the creative industry. I think living life, finding inspiration on your own time, and gaining experience is crucial in order to succeed in whatever medium of the industry you are in. If I am confined to a tight schedule every day of the week, I feel boxed in and can’t think as freely. However, I am jealous of cats who can come home and completely unplug from their day at work. Being a freelancer, I’ve found it really difficult to know when to turn it off. Constantly being up late and working weekends. But you never know when the creativity is going to strike!
Franco: I totally agree with that. I’m new to the freelance game and while it is great to have a very open schedule, I do find it extremely difficult to unplug from it all. Though, I do just think that means we’re really passionate about what we do! Haha. What things do you like to do when you do try to get away?
Bradley: Man, we really are on the same page! Going back to what I said earlier, i think it is so important to split work and leisure. When I’m not wrapped up in projects, I’m always thrifting, buying and selling vintage furniture, spending quality time with my girlfriend and our dog, consuming a lot of media, and reading up on new skills. I think if you spend time on all of the things you are interested in - it will not only make you a healthier individual - but allow you to approach projects from a more well-rounded perspective!
Franco: All things I like to do as well, I always find myself to be more creative when I’m not thinking about it too much and just letting my everyday life inspire me. What happens when you’re in a creative block, are there certain things that you do to get out of it or do you accept it as a part of the process?
Bradley: I get in a creative rut pretty regularly. I find just riding it out and talking through it is the best way to get out of it. It’s most certainly part of the process. But everyone is their own worst enemy! I think it’s so easy to compare yourself to others and self-deprecate especially living in a social-media age. Ultimately, we all need to trust in our own paths and keep making things we feel passionate about!
Franco: I do too! I have an overthinking problem though in my opinion so I think my creative ruts can be self induced. I know we’ve spoken about this so many times, but not comparing yourself to others in the social-media age (especially as a creative) can be so difficult. It’s definitely one of the biggest roadblocks I’ve faced in my creative career. Have you faced any similar roadblocks, or has there ever been obstacles?
Bradley: Yeah man of course there have been roadblocks! I think there are always obstacles to overcome when starting a career. With photography and directing, you have to put in a lot of work to get to a point where you land a paying gig. Not only can it be expensive to start out, but a major obstacle is networking. As cliche as it sounds, this industry truly is all about who you know. Making those connections can be difficult!
A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO BRADLEY CALDER
PHOTOGRAPHY: FRANCO ZULUETA
"A CONVERSATION WITH BRADLEY CALDER"