Proving a picture is worth a thousand words
When Brenton Richardson started event photography site BermyNet 18 years ago, he built a successful business shooting people on the scene.
But it wasn’t until he started taking pictures for himself that he began to see himself as a photographer.
Now based in Toronto, he shoots under Brenton Alexander Photo, a commercial incarnation of his former self.
Looking back, he suspects he had been working towards this for a long time.
“I’ve always had a camera in my hand,” said Mr Richardson.
“I have albums filled with photographs of my friends, family and people I’ve met from my time in middle school all the way to college.”
As a child, his favourite toy was his father’s broken camera; by middle school, he had his own.
He returned to the island after university with a one megapixel camera and took pictures of people at parties.
“I spent the next 17-odd years building a business and taking pictures of people in Bermuda,” he remembered.
“As I write this next chapter, my goal is to create a body of work that I can be proud of and that people will enjoy.”
The catalyst was his daughter, Ryla, who will turn two in November.
“Just before she was born, I purchased a Fujifilm X system on the advice of a friend and photographer,” recalled Mr Richardson who moved to Canada in 2014 with his wife Natasha Smith.
“I also started reading the book Photograph Your Kids Like a Pro by Heather Mosher. I wanted to capture every moment of my daughter’s first year as best I could. With smartphones everybody learnt to take pictures with their phones.
“I decided I wanted to take professional pictures of my daughter, at least the best pictures possible, and I didn’t want to have to pay someone to do it. I felt that I was competent enough to do it myself.”
The results earned him many compliments and commissions started rolling in.
“I’ve been surrounded by lots of talented people, but I always learnt just enough to get through the next shoot. I decided that maybe I should give this a go for myself.”
Mr Richardson is a quick study.
“I work with a team of very talented photographers to cover local events across the island.
“If I was about to go on a shoot, I would just call a photographer and ask them questions, such as what settings I need to use for a particular environment.
“They would give me a few pointers and away I went without really understanding why. Now I seek to understand the why, so that I can apply my knowledge to anything.
“That’s the difference between when I was shooting for Bermynet.com versus for myself.”
The 38-year-old had stopped taking pictures for the site early on, focusing on the business side of the operation, but the hallmarks of BermyNet — the people and the night — persist in his work.
“I find people to be fascinating. The human face can tell a million stories and I like being able to capture those stories,” he said.
“And there’s something about shooting at night that I’m drawn to.”
He said each part of his portfolio represents an area he wants to perfect.
“Anything from portraits to newborns to family to engagements to night-time photography. I’m trying to figure out my style by shooting anything and everything.”
In July he tackled a new genre, light painting photography, inspired by the work of Eric Paré and Kim Henry.
“When I see something like that, my first question is always, ‘How do they do that?’” he said.
“It’s a great way to challenge yourself as a photographer and to see if you can recreate that and add your own spin on it.
For two weeks he studied YouTube videos before attempting the techniques.
“Even then I wasn’t sure what the result was going to be, I just knew that I had to try it,” he said.
“I took notes and ran off to Home Depot to get the tools I needed to create it.”
His first images, using the distant city as a backdrop, were not scripted. He needed time to play with the long exposures.
“We were learning as we went. It’s just me waving the wand around trying to make something,” he said.
“You do it and then you add something else or you take it away. Trial and error. For every great image, I’ve taken 50.”
He said he’s enjoyed experimenting.
“I don’t know where this is headed and I’m okay with that,” he said. “I wanted to see if I was good enough.”
He said BermyNet’s crowd-pleasing snaps mean that his work has never before been scrutinised.
“We’ve been shooting events for almost 18 years now, which is kind of scary because it means that I’m getting old,” he laughed.
“But it’s great. It means it’s a formula that’s still relevant.”
“I still have fun doing it. When my team sends me pictures from Cup Match, I still get as excited about seeing the pictures on my screen as I did 18 years ago.
“We used to develop film. That 24-hour turnaround couldn’t happen fast enough. It was like Christmas morning. That doesn’t get old.
“I really don’t know where this is going to end up. I just pick up my camera at any given opportunity and shoot.”
• You can contact Brenton Richardson on www.brentonalexanderphoto.com and Instagram @brentonalexanderphoto
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