We had the good fortune of connecting with Brian Friedman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brian, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I had a good, steady job in my 20’s but it wasn’t fulfilling me the way I wanted or needed. And I knew that if I didn’t take the risk and start my own business, that I would regret it. I wanted to be a professional drummer initially but I also knew that wasn’t the right career for me. Ultimately when I decided to pursue photography as my career, I knew I had to totally “go for it.” Being my own boss was one of the things I’d always dreamed of, so combining photography AND running my own shop was the clear path. No risk, no reward. I incorporated my business in 2005 and left my full time job in 2007. I could have worked for an agency like Getty Images, but I was afraid I’d get “stuck” taking assignments rather than creating my own.
Alright, so let’s move onto how you started?
I first became interested photography as a young teenager, taking photos of my favorite tennis players at the US Open. My dad’s company had box seats and I went all the time. In 1990 I took photos of my favorite player, Andre Agassi. When the film came back, I couldn’t believe I had captured him for MYSELF in my OWN way. I remember thinking, “wow this is so cool!” When I got to college I met my mentor Evangelos Dousmanis. He and I got along famously. And he also had one of the very first digital cameras ever made! My love of electronics and photography combined into one? I knew then that I would incorporate photography into my life in one way or another. After college I landed a job working for an entertainment management company in NY. Many famous people were represented, including Ray Romano. I used to go out to the comedy clubs and network with agents, managers, publicist, and comedians. For many years though, it wasn’t with the intent of expanding my photography endeavors. But it slowly became that for me and I just went with it. People always ask me “how did you get to where you are now.” And the answer is always “relationships and networking.” You have to create good, long lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with people both in and out of your field. You have to nurture them over time. Coddle them. I got my big break one night while at Caroline’s Comedy Club in NYC. I was introduced to an intern at Z100, a huge radio station in NY. I wound up taking headshots for this person, and he then talked about me to his colleagues at the station. It still took 4 years for me to see an opportunity come to life, but when it did it was a big one. I put myself in a position to be hired by the station’s marketing director – who then ultimately became the marketing director for the entire iHeartRadio brand. That was in 2010-2011. To date I’ve shot every iHeartRadio Music Festival, 50 Jingle Ball concerts nationwide, and many tentpole events for the brand.
The moral of the story is; get out and network with people face to face! And always remember – all because things aren’t happening as quickly as you may want doesn’t mean they aren’t happening!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Las Vegas now and there’s a lot of great things to do (just not in July or August!). I love to hike so we’d go to Red Rocks and to Valley of Fire. It’s also a ton of fun to just walk around the strip and take in the sights, with a beer in hand! So many great shows to chose from, not to mention restaurants! The beautiful blue sky and open terrain of Las Vegas makes it such a beautiful and calm place to live! And btw – people think Las Vegas is just “the strip”. It’s not!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My late mentor Evangelos Dousmanis is single handedly the person who opened my eyes up to photography as an art form as well as a career. He was the University Photographer (Binghamton University), and I admired him in so many ways. For one, he got to attend all the events on campus. His camera was his pass. People knew who he was and everyone loved him. He engaged with everyone and was the “fun guy” on campus. I just admired everything about him. He taught me so much at the beginning of my career. “You have access, use it.” “Don’t come back with excuses come back with pictures.” These little mantras have stayed with me all throughout my career and I pass them along to my students now. While I’m not the University photographer, I am an adjunct professor at UNLV and I teach my students everything he taught me. I also have to give some credit to the amazing portrait photographer Spencer Tunick, who took time to mentor me very early on as well. It’s worth noting – when someone gives you advice, it’s up to you to take it and implement it. I’ve learned that most people don’t put good advice into action. But those who do, see results.