We had the good fortune of connecting with Brandy Sebastian and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brandy, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When I think about the word ‘risk’ it’s reflected in what we all do everyday, every breath, it’s not a stranger to any of us. Some risks are small and may feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things, while others are life altering. Risk is something that can hold an enormous amount of fear behind it and can prevent anyone from moving forward or can have the big pay off. My business, as a professional photographer, has been like the tide with ebbs and flows often times quite turbulent. I’ve had business partners that have come and gone, sometimes one assistant and other times a group of people working towards my vision, or a 10 hour wedding that I shot by myself. Every decision we make comes with a certain amount of risk, we have to work through how that change may effect us short term and long term, while ‘taking a leap of faith’. I’ve been successful with my business and have had to scrounge for change to get gas. What always held true for me is my absolute passion for what I do as a creator. Although now days I don’t take on weddings as much, event photography has gone by the wayside, and the many genres of portrait photography has become less and less, I still hold great passion for my craft. Recently, I made the decision to put my entire focus on becoming the fine art photographer I’ve always dreamed of. I have my work in online groups, galleries, and exhibitions. I now help manage a gallery showing strictly photographers throughout the world, while continuing my visual voice. To let go of my lucrative business was scary and still is, but my happiness and joy became my primary focus as well as my health. In 2013, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, the disease itself has taken its tole which also forced my hand in a lot of my decisions surrounding my business, which in itself was one of the biggest risks I had to take, making me first.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I grew up in a family of very creative artistic individuals, some of whom are inventors that span back generations. Because of this I to have those qualities that assist in my creative style, curiosity, and work flow. My work is pretty eclectic and ever changing, but my main focus for the past 10 years has reflections of fertility, infertility, women and their struggles, and strength. I continue to make bodies of work that are heavily influenced by those facets of life. As a creative person I definitely have extreme lows and highs plus some grey areas in between and I’m certain in the circle of creative individuals I know, they can all relate. With all those emotions and experiences it’s impossible for that not to be a part of my work. Photography is a journey that takes me to far reaches of the planet and my mind. I believe we have to learn to cut ourselves a break, that it’s ok for our art to fail, for us to fail, failing is necessary. Honestly I have hard time even wanting to use that word, because I believe that’s where growth happens. Of course getting older, having experiences, and being open-minded are huge factors in that belief system. I don’t think art is easy at all! It’s joyful, maddening, heartfelt, superficial, exhausting, exhilarating, it’s everything and nothing. One of the biggest things that I feel separates me from others is my curiosity for experimentation in the process to the finished piece that hangs on the wall or sits atop a pedestal. What I mean by that is I can photograph a concept that is a model, my camera, the landscape and me or I can have an entire production of makeup artists, hair stylists, assistants and months to years of planning for my vision. The final print paper choice, editing choice and framing are all ingredients to that vision. The work I’ve been producing lately is some of the best that I have finished thus far. Some of it is soft and full of movement while other pieces are still life that represent my life as a survivor of my disease, a daughter, or contemplator of all that is. One of my current bodies of work is a photo based awareness project about endometriosis. It so far involves fifteen women that I have interviewed, photographed at their homes with their remedies of pain relief, before or after surgeries, and finally on location photoshoots that are based on a word that surfaces from their interviews. For instance “Foundation”, “Resilience” or “Sanity”, they all highlight the power of that person and yellow, our awareness ribbon, is the consistent tone throughout. I want my work to be something that creates a story beyond the image. I want it to be something that is talked about not just for me as the creator, but for those affected with the same tribulations I have struggled though. Hoping that my work helps a person not feel alone, that someone else is out there and gets it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m all about road trips and California has some of the most incredible landscapes, it’s truly a state that has a variety of destinations to visit. Day one would be picking up my best pal at the San Diego airport heading north towards Cardiff, where we will park at the San Elijo State Beach to walk the coastline going south towards Solana Beach. This is a great stretch of beach to get the blood moving after a long flight with rising cliffs on one side and crashing waves on the other. After our round trip walk and great conversation we’ll cruise up the coastline to Leucadia for lunch at the Fish 101. They have the freshest and tastiest menu selection of seafood to choose from and for a great price with a casual atmosphere. Because she loves plants like I do, We will check out some of the local nurseries like Gardens By The Sea Nursery, Anderson’s La Costa Nursery, and finally Plant Play where you can converse with the sweetest most interesting couple. That evening we will order with Door Dash at one of my favorite restaurants, Curry & More, located in San Marcos, North County San Diego. The evening will be spent in my lush, cozy, and relaxing backyard sanctuary where we can relax and make s’mores for a fun after dinner desert. Day two through five we are road tripping it to the Eastern Sierras. There are so many spots to see in this region of California that we only have time for a few stops. One must see is the incredible sights of the Alabama Hills, this location is rich in beauty with breath taking views and excellent star gazing with a history in the movie film industry. Getting there later in the day is perfect for sunset pictures of the giant rock formations. One of my favorite places to stay is at the Dow Villa Motel in Lone Pine where the Alabama Hills is located. They have an attached restaurant that has a decent breakfast, a pool to lounge in, and is walking distance to a host of restaurants, bars, and a bit of shopping. It’s a small town but one of my favorites. From this location day three would be spent in Death Valley, this place is worth an entire week alone, but I want my best friend to have a taste of this region so that she has ideas to come back to with her family. Death Valley is not like any other desert, it’s terrain in some areas is like something from another world. Actually some of the landscapes throughout the National Park were the backdrops for Star Wars movies at a time when movies could be filmed in the park. A handful of my favorites are Twenty Mule Team Canyon, Badwater Basin, Artist Palette, Zabriskie Point, and the Race Track. That’s a lot to pack in one day but if we start out early the first stop would be Sunrise at Zabriskie Point, as the sun comes up the multitude of colors are beautifully saturated and soften as the sun rises. Then on to Twenty Mule Team Canyon, this place is probably one of my most favorite throughout the park. It’s a short road through the canyon but the towering mounds of pale oranges and yellow hills resembles floating icebergs. It’s quiet with minimal pullouts, but seriously worth the drive through. Then we would jet out towards Race Track, it’s a 45 minute drive out to the track passing through a nifty, pull over worthy spot called Tea Kettle Junction. The tea kettles are left from previous travelers from all over the world and some even have hidden messages inside, I especially love when there’s a breeze that makes them chime against each other. Once arriving at the Race Track it’s not like anything you have seen with it’s minimalistic views, the key to this location is the small boulders that at one point have glided across the surface of cracked mud leaving their tracks. It’s a wonderful spot but be careful, being out there if the weather calls for rainstorms can be dangerous. Once we leave the rocky dirt roads from Race Track we head right for Artist Palette, the name truly describes this beautiful drive through mountains and the variety of colored, eroded hills and because we are here in the afternoon the lighting will be amazing. Lastly, Badwater it is at the lowest elevation in North America and is seriously one of the most unique sights around. Golden Hour (sunset) at this place is amazing and the large polygons salt formations stretch to distant mountains. The bright white of the salt shapes shift from pale blue to dusty purples as the sun disappears behind the mountain range. It’s been a full day and it’s time to rest up for Bristlecone Pines for our fifth day. Bristlecone Pines is another note worthy location with ancient trees some of which date back over 4,000 years of age, they are some of the oldest known living trees. We will make our first stop at the Great Basin National Park Visitor Center, there are some great trails here and some beautiful specimens to give you a taste of what will be seen touring Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. The 12 mile road is windy then we will continue onto Patriarch Grove. This road is intense and is recommend for a 4×4 vehicles, which luckily we have with my Jeep Grand Cherokee Trail Hawk, seriously the best vehicle I’ve ever had, I just love its versatility. There are very few stops on the way up to the grove but we will take a few breaks for the views, lunch, and a little rest from the rocky, bumpy road. Day six is spent waking up before sunrise to head back out to Alabama Hills for one last hike out to Mobius Arch where the rise of the sun slowly lights up Mount Whitney Portal. If you get at the right angle you can see the mountain range in the arch, I get shots of this view every chance I get. We head back to San Diego for some rest and relaxation, nothing like going on a vacation and coming home exhausted. I like giving myself time to recover from all the serious excitement, beauty, and road exhaustion.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who have assisted and inspired me to be the artist that I am today. Even if an experience wasn’t the greatest, it stilled provided an opportunity to become who I am. I know it seems cliche to thank my mom, but she is truly the first person to thank. Penny Kachuck, my mom, is a small business owner at the Glass and Mirror Shoppe in Carlsbad, CA. She endlessly encourages me to be the best for me, she is the ultimate support in my art and health, and she never stopped telling me that I can achieve anything I desire. Over the past 12 years my husband, David Garcia, has been one of the best supporters of my career, from carrying gear, moving lights, helping to attain the best equipment, to being my superhero through my health battles. He is a retired Marine of 30 years, a psychology major, and a deputy director of a school house at a local Marine Corps base. His love and compassion for me is breath taking. Donna Cosentino, at The Photographer’s Eye Gallery and Collective, is a previous professor at Palomar College, continues to be my mentor, and one of my greatest friends. She has given me the opportunity to be a part of her dream, that has always been my own, of owning and running a gallery. I’m grateful to all that I learn from her experience and for you listening and acknowledging mine. Lisa Howard, with Blooming Uterus of San Diego, is one of the most amazing people I know, she seriously has the biggest heart and has helped so many and is the ultimate support person. Because of her endometriosis awareness and support groups, I’ve been able to find a strong and unbreakable bond of loving, courageous, beautiful people that fill my heart and are there for me during tuff health obstacles. There are countless others to thank from friends and loved one, assistants, hand holders, to my fury four legged pups, that because of all those that have been in my life I am me.