Sunday, October 2, 2022
Brant Hemingway, of Ellendale, has been a full-time photographer for 20 years and bought his first professional camera at age 13. He does weddings, engagement sessions, school pictures, sports team pictures, church confirmations, high school seniors and family portraits.

Eye see; therefore I shoot

Local man views life through camera lens

Brant Hemingway, of Ellendale, has been taking pictures full time for the past 20 years, but the interest started long before that. Hemingway fell in love with photography at age 13, after he purchased his first professional camera with money he earned from working on the farm. 

“As a 13-year-old, I just thought it was really fascinating that I could take a picture now and then someday down the road be able to look at that picture and have that moment in history frozen in time,” he said. “I always thought technology was just fascinating, otherwise all we have is our minds to capture and remember things.” 

Hemingway continued to pursue his passion throughout high school by taking pictures for the school yearbook and newspaper. He shot his first wedding for a friend at age 18, and that is when he knew he wanted to turn his passion into a career. 

In college, Hemingway continued to shoot a lot of weddings to help pay for his bachelor of science degree in photographic engineering from St. Cloud State University. 

“I wanted to know everything about photography,” he said. 

Three days after his college graduation, he decided he had had enough with snow and cold temperatures, so he moved to California, where he continued to shoot professionally for six years. While he was there, he continued to do a lot of weddings and did modeling photography. He eventually decided to come back home to raise a family and continue doing what he loves. 

Hemingway then bought his current studio, where he has been for 22 years. The nine-acre studio is in Ellendale and has various stations with different backgrounds, such as a hayloft, barns, a path through the woods, a pond and a porch. He also has a motorized green screen that allows him to do backgrounds that are more personal to his subject. 

“I like taking pictures and making people happy,” he said. 

After all these years, he still enjoys what he does because he is able to find new ways to take a picture, whether it be experimenting with the background, the angle, the lighting or the pose. 

“For me, it is still a thrill when I come up with something new, a new idea,” he said. 

Hemingway’s main specialty is weddings, both videography and photography, but he also does engagement sessions, senior pictures, school pictures and school sports teams, modeling, family portraits and church confirmations. He did his first maternity shoot this past year. 

“I like to feel like I am a well-rounded photographer,” he said. 

Hemingway has done thousands of weddings in his career. His busiest time of year is May through November and then it slows down significantly during winter months. During the busy months, he averages four to five sessions a week and during the slow period, about one every week or every other week. 

During the slow months, Hemingway likes to spend more time with his family and go on vacations. 

Since Hemingway has been in the field for so long, he has had to roll with the punches and evolve with the industry as technology has changed. Although he was able to make it in today’s market due to his experience, he does not recommend young people to pursue a full-time career in photography because of the competition.

“I am kind of stuck because this is all I’ve done my whole life and I really don’t know anything else, but luckily I had some good years,” he said. “Since digital has come out, it has kind of devalued photography a little bit, but it is so much fun to be a photographer now because you can do so much with it.” 

With all the competition in the market for photographers, Hemingway says, the money is not as good as it used to be and it is not as easy to make a living. If he were given the choice to go back to the old days with film or keep today’s technologies of digital and Photoshop, he would hands down pick digital. 

The most challenging part for him of making the switch from film to digital was learning all the computer work. 

“The computer was the hardest part for me to pick up. I’ve got a good grip on it now, but I did have to go to a lot of seminars and consult my photographer friends on Photoshop and I can pretty much do anything with it now,” he said. “What people don’t realize is 25 percent is the actual photography and the other 75 percent of it is computer work.” 

Despite the challenges of the industry today and the technology changes, Hemingway still has a passion for what he does.

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