We had the good fortune of connecting with Alain Briot and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alain, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started Beaux Arts Photography, which is my business name, because I wanted to share our passion for the natural world, the grand landscape, the national parks, with my audience. I first did that with my fine art photographs, displaying and selling them at Grand Canyon National park, then latter I continued by offering landscape photography workshop in the National Parks of Arizona, of the Southwest: California, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Nevada.
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 am passionate about my work and I want to share my passion with my audience and students. I do this because creating art is my passion. A lot of people have a passion for the arts, the problem is they do not listen to their calling. They tell themselves that art is not important, or that they will create art ‘later’. Fact is art is an inherent and necessary aspect of our lives. It is just as important as the other aspects, be they financial, social, work related or other. By neglecting Art we neglect an important element of what makes us happy.
My goal when I teach is to help my students express their artistic side. My goal is to help them be artists by teaching them how to express themselves and create art that is uniquely theirs, art that they like and that is personal to them. I do this by teaching photography but the same approach is used in teaching other artistic mediums. In fact it is not uncommon for my students to practice other artistic activities be it painting, or writing, drawing or other. Once someone opens the door onto their creativity and discovers their creative side, they invite art into their life and realize it plays a much more important role than they ever believed. This makes them want to further explore their creative side by trying other artistic medium. They become more confident, they gain self assurance, and they grow as artists.
Soon they enter artistic shows and present their work to the public. Some go on to having full-fledged artistic career, doing art shows regularly. Some decide to make it a business and start selling their photographs. Natalie and I help them in every aspect of this endeavor. We offer workshops and tutorials that cover every part of the photographic process from field work (composition, camera settings, exposure, etc.) to processing and printing (working in Photoshop and Lightroom, printer settings, paper choice, etc.) to matting and framing, to marketing and salesmanship and all the way to starting a business and running it profitably.
We cover it all because we have gone through it all ourselves. I have operated a successful fine art photography business since 1998 — 25 years– starting from nothing and building it up to what it is today where I can now live off the residual income generated from investments made with business profits. I teach how to do that to students, focusing on which aspects are of interest to them, whether it is just learning how to create an artistic photograph or whether they want to learn it all from A to Z.
My teaching is not based on theory. It is based on personal practice, on having done all this myself, on going through all the challenges and on finding effective solutions to the difficulties one inevitably encounters alongs the way.
The unique aspect of our teaching
The unique aspect of our teaching is that we approach photography as an artistic medium. This means we teach both the artistic and the technical aspects of photography. This is unique because most photography instructors focus on the technical aspects. For them technique is what matters most.
For us Art is what matters most. Technique is important but we know, from having sold my work to millions of customers, that nobody buys a photograph because it is technically perfect. People buy photographs because of their emotional response to that photograph. They love it because it talks to them. People fall in love with photographs because of the emotions they feel when they look at that photograph. Being technically good is important but it is secondary to being able to express emotions in your photographs. We teach how to do that in our workshops.
This is not taught much, or at all, as far as I know. In fact most photography teachers stay clear of teaching artistic photography because they do not have the confidence to do so. This is because most photography teachers and workshop instructors never studied art. I did. I studied art at the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris (I am from France originally).
In fact I have created art my entire life. When I teach I draw on that experience and pass it on to my students. Art is not something I do ‘on the side’ or that I ‘add to my photography’. Art is my life. It is what I am most passionate about.
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 would take them to the Grand Canyon because it is one of the wonders of the Natural world and one of the most amazing photography subjects anywhere. It is also challenging to photographs, so creating a great image of the Grand Canyon is an achievement and something to work towards.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I work with my wife Natalie. I could not do this on my own. We divide the work between the two of us. I take care of the artistic and marketing aspects and Natalie takes care of the logistical aspects. Logistics run the world! so this business would not be what it is without Natalie. She makes sure that everything from permits to schedules to gear is done right. This guarantees that everything runs smoothly and that everyone has a great time.