It’s hard to imagine a 23-year-old working among major lifestyle brands like REI and traveling the world with his camera. When I was 23, photography wasn’t even a glimpse on my radar. But for Brandon Olmscheid, it’s been his heart and soul for more than five years.
Brandon, who’s an ambassador for Tamron, sat down with me to discuss his take on his photo journey thus far, as well as the gear that helps him make it all happen.
Commercial, travel, automotive … what’s next?
Brandon describes himself as a corporate and travel photographer. But he’s not limiting himself, hoping to expand into other genres soon, including automotive photography.
“I love travel. That’s very personal stuff that I love to shoot. I’m also starting to get more into shooting automotive stuff … I have a huge passion for cars. There’s also tons of other genres I’d like to get into, just because I don’t want to stay trapped in a box.”
Regardless of the genre of photography, Brandon loves taking advantage of unique experiences with his camera. It’s led to some of the most memorable moments throughout his photography career.
“A lot of the shoots I do while I’m traveling — working with brands or shooting personal stuff — they’re super fun. Sometimes we’re sleeping in a car for a couple hours, waking up for sunrise and shooting in a cool location. That alone is like … you get an adrenaline rush for sure. Waking up in a car, in a beautiful area … those [photoshoots] are always very memorable.
“You don’t get good sleep sleeping in a car.”
Working with and finding clients
Being only 23, Brandon has already had more experience than a lot of pros do in terms of working in the corporate field. For him, it was all about connecting with companies, which started over social media.
“Every time I posted on social media, I would tag [Tamron] on every post,” he said. “They started to recognize that, and would feature my photos. We connected that way, started talking through DM, and then I asked what else we could do. After consistently tagging them for a couple years, it turned into something more.”
Since then, he turned his consistent posting into a work portfolio that continues to grow. For Brandon, it’s important for any photographers to reach out to companies consistently.
“You need to reach out. Reach out to companies. People think you can just post their work and you’ll get all this work. You have to reach out a ton. Over the last few years, I’ll send out 20-30 emails a week. And sometimes that doesn’t seem like a lot, but they have to be very detailed, genuine emails, and customized for each person you’re reaching out to. You need to reach out … work’s not going to come to you. You’re always going to need to reach out if you want to get work, no matter where you’re at in your journey.”
Making the most out of his gear
While many professionals have started to switch over to mirrorless, Brandon has (so far) stayed put with his Nikon D750.
“I’ve been thinking about switching to mirrorless a lot. I’d like something more video-friendly. But I’m just going to keep shooting on this for a little bit … I’m in no rush.”
And in terms of his Tamron lenses, he’s never swayed to another brand, impressed with the quality and compactness that the lenses offer.
“The quality of those lenses … that’s what grabs my attention the most. How sharp they area, and how minimal they look. They’re not bulky; they’re nice, slim-looking lenses and lightweight. The overall quality you get from the lenses is why I like Tamron.
“[With my 24-70mm], I get the nice wide-angle and a nice zoomed image while shooting. That, plus my 15-30mm … I love that even wider for landscapes and stuff like that. If I just had those two, I’d be fine. Obviously it’s nice to have a 70-200mm and a wider or more telephoto lens for certain things, but I shot on only the 24-70mm lens for the first two years of photography. That’s all I used.”
Creating a unique selling point
One of the things that most intrigued me when I checked out Brandon’s website is his content subscription service. While I haven’t seen many photographers offer this, it makes perfect sense, as it allows Brandon to take advantage of existing relationships and continue to build upon them.
“I feel like you build more of a long-lasting relationship with companies when you’re working with them month-to-month. I love what I do, so I want to have real relationships with companies and people. You get to grow together, and have a better understanding of who they are over time, and what they’re trying to achieve.”
Shoot, shoot, shoot
But regardless of what you’re trying to achieve, Brandon says that when it comes to building your audience, it’s most important to shoot and share on a consistent basic.
“When it comes to growing your presence with photography, just go and shoot a bunch and post your work. I remember in the beginning, I wanted the photo to be so perfect. It’s never gonna be perfect. Shoot a bunch, edit your photos and get them out there.
“Don’t overthink it too much. You just have to keep pushing out content. You might say ‘I should have done this.’ Well, you can do that for your next post the next day. So many people overthink what they’re posting and then never post.”
For Brandon, staying creative and being engaged with his audience is one of the most important things he strives to do. And at age 23, he’s certainly achieved a portfolio that any photographer can be happy about … and then some.
To see more of Brandon’s photos, follow him on Instagram.