By Noah Nelson
Originally from the UK, Julian Brogi graduated from the University of Exeter in the Southwest of England. Falling in love with Oregon in 1996, Brogi became a real estate broker for Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty. Brogi fulfilled his lifelong dream of living on the coast five years ago when he moved to Lincoln City. He currently lives there and is renovating a beautiful 1954 beach house. In his free time, Julian is an accomplished photographer who uses his skills behind the camera to enhance his abilities as a broker.
Read on for a Q&A about Brogi and his artwork.
How long have you been an artist and what first interested you in it?
I have been passionate about photography since I got my first Brownie at age seven. I was constantly frustrated by the 127 film only having eight exposures. I’d burn through a roll in no time, have no more film to load and then have to wait days to see what I had captured. My meager-to-nothing pocket money for this new hobby did not allow for much in the way of experimentation but may, at least, have instilled some degree of aesthetic discipline.
Since then I have exposed many thousands of rolls of film: in black and white, and color, and in all kinds of formats. I spent years developing and printing my own black and white work in a home or rented darkroom. I like to think this further exercised that aesthetic discipline and growth.
Now, not a few years down the road, and with the benefit of so many digital resources, I have been distilling this experience into what I would call my current aesthetic.
What inspires your work? What do you look for in terms of subject matter for your photos, and how would you describe your perfect shot?
It may sound trite, but like a lot of “artists,” especially visual ones, I think I am often inspired by the simple things I see around me. They may not be glorious or even unusual but sometimes it is the most mundane things and their juxtaposition or context which might surprise and delight me. At other times I might be awed by a magnificent land or seascape, a weather event or a play of light. Also, in my macro photography, the inner worlds of the everyday can be an endless source of fascination and surprise. By manipulating light and focus I can discover unexpected, startling and sometimes stunning details and viewpoints in the macro dimension of flowers, insects, animals and even familiar objects. Not just close-ups, these photographs suggest there is more to the natural world than we could ever hope to comprehend or even witness: a macro view of the larger life of which we are part and perhaps even an analogy for some kind of hierarchy of existence!
As far as my “perfect shot” goes, I’m still searching for it!!
Are there any artists that have inspired you, either now or when you were first beginning?
I have been inspired or influenced in one way or another by ALL the photographers whose work I’ve seen…from the great pictorialists and darkroom masters like Ansel Adams and Alfred Stieglitz to the “street” photographers like Cartier-Bresson and later, innovators like Gary
Winogrand. I am moved by a lot of work done by the U.S. Farms Security Administration photographers in the 1930s and 40s: Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, to name just a few. But more importantly, I take a lot of inspiration from the snapshot amateurs who have wielded their cameras since the introduction of the first popular pocket Kodak circa 1900.
Of all of your pieces, which among them are your favorites?
All my children are my favorites!
What message are you trying to convey with black and white/what is the purpose of black and white photography?
Black & White photography is, perhaps paradoxically, a visually sumptuous feast. Tones and color are reduced to an infinite variation of greys, rich blacks and stunning whites. Compositional elements are presented in ways which challenge us to a different way of seeing. Light and shadow stir surprising emotions. It is a photographic and artistic discipline which can engrave moments and memories like no other.
I have been collecting or “rescuing” abandoned, forgotten and lost images from the 19th & 20th centuries, both professional & amateur for many years. Part of my “mission” now includes restoring and re-inventing some of the more memorable images from my collection. Working from original prints or negatives, my approach varies, but at the very least involves painstaking digital restoration: removal of scratches, dust spots, tears etc. I will also adjust, enhance or otherwise alter exposure using the digital equivalent of traditional darkroom dodging and burning techniques. Depending on the subject, I will try to remain true to what I interpret as the original intent of the photographer, but in other scenarios, I will take an image and “run” with it according to my own fancy or aesthetic impulses. This might involve collage, cropping, texturing, colorizing or otherwise manipulating the image to a different and often surprising end.
Has your art ever been somehow included in your job as a broker? If so, how?
My photographic abilities have of course helped me in my career as a broker, especially in making images to illustrate and enhance a listing. I have also recently started to explore videography and drone photography as a supplement to present an impression of a property and its surroundings. I will shortly be offering freelance real estate photography & videography services to other realtors who may have become frustrated with their current providers, due to quality or delivery time in a crucial market.
What advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of your art career?
The advice I would have given myself a long time ago, and still do is: Keep doing it! Even if nobody but you sees it. Do it for yourself.
To see more of Julian Brogi’s work, visit his website here