Getting To Know Larry Braun
Photography is my creative therapy. I spend about 4 hours a day working on photos, reading about photography, and marketing my work.
When did you first become interested in art?
My interest in art followed my interest in photography. Initially my view of an artist was someone that can draw, paint, or sculpture. I did not think of photography as an creative art form. Photography to me was a way of documenting where you had been. It wasn’t until I started studying photography on my own that I appreciated photography as a form of art. While studying photographers like Ed Weston, Alfred Stieglitz, and Eugene Atget, I saw the artistic potential of photography. At a showing in Cape Girardeau an art professor approached me and asked if I had ever studied the Dutch landscape artists, because my photographs reminded him of their work. So I studied this venue of artist, followed by the Hudson River School of Artist that painted in the late 19th century. From these studies I learned how to compose landscape photography. Later I discovered a painter named Ed Hopper. This was a game changer. I started studying Ed Hopper’s work and used his painting as a motif for my art.
What about photography in general?
I started taking photos while serving on the aircraft carrier USS Midway during the Vietnam War. I bought a top of the line 35mm SLR camera and photographed in the ports I visited. When I started college after discharge from the Navy I put down the camera, raised a family and concentrated my creative energy on my career. After my family had grown and left home I started taking photos again. In 2008 I entered one of my photos in a local photo contest and won first place. At that point I realized I had a vision that others appreciated to be art.
Which camera do you use most?
Currently I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV.
What made you choose that camera?
I’m not a techy person. I did not spend a lot of time comparing different brands and choosing the one I thought would be best for me. The first camera I bought back in 1972 was a Canon. I still shoot Canon. Not for any special reason other than I am familiar with Canon cameras and they are built well, so it’s easy for me to learn how to use new models. I have always been more interested in the image composition than what kind of equipment I am using. I chose the Canon 5D because it has a full frame sensor so I can get good resolution in my images.
I almost always shoot HDR. I use Photomatix to convert my bracketed images into an HDR image. From here I use photoshop to process the image. As far as processing goes, I remove unwanted objects (electric lines, trash, or whatever else I want to remove from the photo). I work a lot with lighting using mask to lighten up my subject and darken the background a bit…kind of like the old dark room dodge and burn technique, but on steroids.
I use photoshop almost exclusively. I know that lightroom is more suited for photographers however lightroom does not have mask, which I use extensively. I have purchased the creative cloud suite for a monthly fee, and I am happy to have access to their latest upgrades.
Do you enjoy the photography or the editing more?
I would say its 50:50. I would shoot more but I like to spend time processing and if I shoot more then I would feel rushed when I process the photos. I am never at a loss for what to shoot. I just go out and start clicking. Soon I have a month’s worth of photos to process. I might add that taking photos and editing photos are only two legs of the creative photography tripod. . The other leg is EXIBITING. Without an opportunity to exhibit I would not be as excited about shooting and processing. The ability to exhibit my work puts the tripod on steady ground.
Which other photographer, dead or alive, would you love to meet?
Gary Winograd. Gary was a street photographer that grew up in NYC. He was noticed by some very influential people like John Szarkowsky the director of Photography at the MoMA in NYC, that showcased some of this work in an exhibit in 1963 which launched his career. Gary’s motto was “I photograph to see what it looks like photographed.” I have adopted this motto myself. I think he sums up an approach to photography that resonates with my philosophy.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
This is a really tough question as I go through creative phases. Each phase has a favorites. I guess the photo that took first place in the first photo contest I entered would be my all-time favorite. This photo of a freshly ploughed field under a partially cloudy sky at dawn is include in my attachments
How well do you take criticism?
Well if its genuine I’m ok with it. Obviously anytime someone criticizes your work it stings. You have to accept that not everybody will like your work. I do create some unconventional work so It’s not always appreciated. That’s part of stepping out of the box.
Do you travel far when photographing?
I travel in the USA. Last year I went on three trips and covered about 5000 miles. This year I will probably do three as well. I like to shoot in the spring and fall and process these photos throughout the summer and winter.
Have you tried drone photography yet?
Drone photography is a whole different genre of photography. Drone photography offers a different perspective than shooting from the ground. I have received inquiries about doing drone photography, especially on the larger farms I photograph, however I choose to concentrate on small towns and landscapes as my area of expertise.
My photography is a reflection of my soul. I try to capture and relate what I feel inside.
What is your favourite personal photography story?
My best photography story is having one of my photos selected by the USPS for use on a forever postage stamp. One never knows when you will get lucky and achieve national recognition.
The photo used for the stamp was taken while I was on a photo trip through Tennessee and Kentucky. One of my workflows involves just driving around the countryside and shooting whatever appeals to me during the trip. As a freelance photographer, I have no schedule to keep, no obligation to fulfill. I am guided mostly by my intuition. On this day I was driving through the countryside of Tennessee and Kentucky shooting whatever caught my eye.
My photo trip lasted most of the day, starting from my home in Missouri, crossing the Mississippi River then the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois into Kentucky. I made a 260 mile loop through these rural areas.
As I was returning to Wickliffe, I noticed that the sky was showing signs of developing a beautiful sunset. I continued driving westward and the sky grew more and more colorful…like someone had a pallet and was painting the sky before my eyes.
As the sky evolved into a JWW Turner painting, I started thinking about where would be a good place to capture this wonderful sky. I remembered a park in Wickliffe on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, and thought this would be the perfect place to capture this magnificent scene, with its open view of the western sky. So I captured the scene from the top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River just south of the confluence of the Ohio River.
When I got home I processed and posted my photo in Facebook and in my FAA gallery. Even though it was a great photo with dazzling colors it received no special recognition online. It was one of many beautiful sunsets over the Mississippi River that can be found online.
So the photo sat floating around on the servers in the Sea of WWW for about 6 years. In the spring of 2020 a graphic artist under contract with the USPS was gathering potential photos for use in a series of stamps of images of the Mississippi River taken from each state that borders the river. The graphic artist found my photo on line and thought it would make a great shot for the USPS stamp series featuring Kentucky.
He shot an email to me asking if I would be interested in selling the image, verifying that I took the photo, and was the legal copywrite owner of the photo. After we worked through the legalities of the contract, my photo was selected to represent Kentucky in the stamp series called the Mighty Mississippi. I was pleased to be among the photographers whose images were used in the series and were recognized at the USPS first day of issue ceremony held in Memphis in May of 2022.
The forever stamp can be purchased from a post office or ordered directly from the USPS website.
Have you had exhibits in galleries?
My first museum exhibit was at the Margaret Harwell Art Museum in Poplar Bluff MO. It occurred in February 4, 2012 and lasted one month with a reception at the beginning of the exhibit. I also had a solo exhibit at the Sikeston Depot Museum in 2019. I have exhibited in many events, such as the Ste Genevieve History Conference, and the Ste Genevieve Visitor Center. For a full list of where I have exhibited see this link;
In addition to these exhibits I had a space to display my work at the Painted Wren Gallery in Cape Girardeau for about four years starting in 2010. I was also a member of the Visual Arts Cooperative of Cape Girardeau for five years where I exhibited a piece monthly.
I have been in local galleries. Living in a small town, It’s difficult for me to connect with a gallery in a city like St. Louis or Nashville, so I have not pursued it. Right now I am happy to post my work on FAA. This works for me. It allows me to spend my time doing the things I enjoy the most.
What advice would you give new photographers?
In photography as with any career you need to be persistent. I work every day with my photography. Growth in your work comes from expanding on past successes and failures. If you are not willing to do this then find something else.
It’s very difficult to get recognized in this sea of photographers. I enjoy having an opportunity to exhibit my work every day to thousands of people. This would not be possible before the internet. I was not involved with art before the internet so I don’t really know how it affected artists. I’m sure it has.
Have you done any courses to help you?
I completed an on line course offered by the New York Institute of Photography. This course helped me understand the fundamentals of photography, and the different types of photography. From this course I summarized that I am a street/landscape photographer.
What do you do to market your work?
Post on my Facebook page and share with pertinent groups, and back link to my Fine Art America site
Post on Instagram and back link back to my Fine Art America site.
Post on Pinterest and back link to my Fine Art America site
Participate in Fine Art America group discussions.
I enjoy working with photos, taking them, processing them and exhibiting them.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
I use Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LarryB52 and
Here is a video by myself. Please note this is geo restricted so not all countries may view https://www.kfvs12.com/video/2022/02/18/mississippi-river-stamps-featuring-heartland-photographer-work/
Are you available for work (commissions)?
Yes I am. I do some commission work. I photograph farms for local farm owners. Also people see my work on line and ask for a particular photo of their house or farm. Also local banks and medical facilities have purchased a large quantity of my photos to be displayed in their facilities. I have a very large selection of photos of local landscapes which appeals to commercial interior decorators. They usually contact me and provide me with information of what they are looking for and I make them a collection of photos on my FAA site so they can share these with their staff to make their final selections. I do not market my services but will often provide it if asked. I also do work for my former employer when they need photographic services, usually two or three times a year.
Have you got hobbies?
I like to hike, ride a bicycle, travel, and read. I read a lot about photography and poetry. Reading poetry helps me describe my photos.
Do you have a significant other? Are they supportive?
I am married. My wife is my greatest fan.
What does your family think about what you do?
They like me being a photographer. My daughter also shoots as a hobby, I think that once her family is grown she will get more involved with photography.
What do you dream about when asleep?
I seldom dream. When I do I don’t really remember it. Dreams do not play a big part in my life.
Where are you based?
I live in a small town in southeast Missouri, close to Cape Girardeau.
3 thoughts on “Getting To Know Larry Braun”
Great read and beautiful photography!
Thank you for sharing pieces of your life through photography. Interesting. You are a quiet, thoughtful person, who has an extraordinary insight on the beauty of nature all around you through photography.