We try not to have favourites but it’s difficult not to love everything photographer Brian Finke produces. And that encompasses a hugely eclectic subject matter too, from his series on Italian pasta making to the lovely ladies of the Ms. Senior America beauty pageant, not forgetting his oddly compelling shots of sad desk lunches. Brian’s latest series Texas adds yet another arrow to the photographer’s quiver, showing a more delicate and filmic aesthetic, where he explores his home state.
The project began a few summers ago, Brian remembers, when returning to Texas to see family during the school holidays. “Every summer, my boys and I now take what’s turned into our annual trip visiting my parents and sister and her family, who live outside of Ft. Worth. While there we go to water parks, spend time grilling in the backyard and have the regular Sunday afternoon water volleyball tournament in the parent’s pool.”
While there, as photographers do, he began to turn his lens on his surroundings, yet without any specific concept in mind. “A big motivation behind the photos is to highlight the importance of the people most important to me, my family and friends. After spending the past 20 years working as a photographer, being sent around the world to photograph culturally relevant stories for magazines and brands, it felt really good turning the camera towards the people closest to me. It’s very fulfilling.”
In the highly personal series, you can spot Brian’s two sons Oli and Izi, who he believes have built in self-confidence due to a lifetime of being photographed by their dad. The images are subtler and softer than many of his previous works, perhaps a result of his affection towards the people in them; but also, Brian says, it signals an evolution in his practice.
“It’s a quieter approach, which feels more where I’m at right now,” Brian describes. “I feel that what I choose to photograph and how I choose to do it is a direct reflection to where I’m at in life. This is a more self-reflective time now. I’m not using flash how I’ve traditionally used it in my commercial work. I’m making a lot of portraits where the peoples’ faces are covered in shadow; I’m not illuminating the details in the photograph how I have previously. I’m wanting the viewer to have to look closer, take more time with the image. Everything isn’t in plain sight.”
One of the standout features is the light, a warm glow that paints a cinematic atmosphere throughout the Texas series. “Lighting is always very important to me,” Brian says. “My friends tell me I’m always mentioning light in the everyday, even when I’m not photographing; that all the time I’m pointing out the light and colour in situations… It’s a great big sky in Texas.”