Brandon Stanciell on Blackness and Masculinity


Brandon Stanciell

This 25-year old California-based artist’s work focuses on reframing both Blackness and masculinity through photography, community, and self-exploration.

By Maya Minhas

Brandon Stanciell is an artist based in California, USA. His work focuses on reframing both Blackness and masculinity through photography, community, and self-exploration. At 25 years old, he recently completed his second solo-show and portrait book 37, three years after his 2016 debut exhibition, The Man Who Loved Flowers.

Although evolving his work diversely, Stanciell’s photographs remain largely influenced by his relationship with plants, “I think as I grow as an artist and use different plants and flowers with my work, my use of color kind of transforms with it.” Reflecting on his work, Brandon recalls what drove him to create his first portrait book, “I wanted to have a physical copy of what I had achieved thus far. I felt making a book would be the best way to kind of close a chapter on some of my work and start moving forward in a new direction. And I wanted everyone to enjoy that as well.”

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Part of Stanciell’s evolution as an artist since his first show can be attributed to his recent experiences as a photo assistant, “I think it’s a great experience. It really allows me to understand what to do and what not to do in certain situations and what could be helpful in certain situations. I continue to learn as I shoot and assist, it's great.”

His most recent show, a great success, demonstrates the evolution of Stanciell’s creative process, divulging further into themes of community, identity, and vulnerability;

“I think it helps me excuse my vision more accurately and helps me become more prepared for future shoots. A lot of the time I'll visualize what I want to shoot for days or weeks ahead of time. I like to marinate on my ideas so that when I execute them it's exactly what I've been thinking...Some people think that I just do flower work and don't shoot photos. Some think vice versa. I feel that my work is meant to be interpreted in different ways depending on the viewer. Some people might relate more than others.”

On the progress of how his career is changing, Brandon recognizes the potential opportunities that traveling may bring, “I think when I start to travel more and start to see just how different the environments are around me, it will allow my vision to open more. I'll be able to explore and meet more individuals that will also help influence my vision and work. I haven't had the chance to travel much and can't wait to do so more in the future!”

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Despite his continued success and support from audiences, Stanciell is both thoughtful and deliberate in his work. He identifies his biggest hurdle as building independent recognition for his work and “Separating yourself from other photographers and really getting out of that freelance position. Being a professional photographer in this day an age is tough because ultimately anyone can do it.”

Nevertheless, Brandon is confident in his ability to intertwine his roles as an individual, artist, and brand, “I think they all go hand in hand really. In order for what I create to live forever or for people to see it, I have to photograph it and a lot of my work when it comes to photographing black men is like a self-exploration per se... I'm finding out more about myself as a black man by taking the time to understand and photograph other black men and that helps shape me as an individual.”

Brandon’s most recent series 37 can be seen here and is available for purchase here.