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Trained in the fast-paced world of photojournalism in Australia and London, James Braund’s particular strengths are making extraordinary images from the everyday, through honest connections with people. With more than 20 years in the business, he’s captured everyone from the homeless to Prime Ministers. In doing so, he’s developed adaptability and creativity under pressure, as well as the ability to quickly connect with people from all walks of life.
James first began photographing as a nine-year-old, when his grandparents gave him a Kodak 56X Instamatic. He realised even then that it was a powerful tool to show people what he’d experienced, and those life experiences are still informing his practice today.
His mother took her own life when he was 14months old, and although adoption was considered, James’ father raised his three children himself in the Riverland town of Renmark. As a child, James spent a lot of time roaming outside. He also moved between the houses of family and friends across rural and urban Victoria and South Australia, learning how to fit seamlessly into different environments.
Leaving home as a teenager, he was hospitalised with a mental illness, which meant living with an abiding sense of shame afterwards. His exploration of psychology, philosophy and the human condition in the decades since have left him with a deep empathy, understanding and connection with people, and he naturally brings these qualities to his work.
“Having the technical craft of photography is one thing, but that means nothing if you can’t connect with people, read a mood, be respectful and compassionate, and melt into the background of any situation,” he says. “Not many people enjoy being photographed, so it’s a matter of building rapport and trust in the most appropriate way possible.”
He describes his work as a relaxed collaboration; keenly aware that photography is a surface-based art, he seeks those fleeting moments of authenticity between self-consciousness and artifice. Today, his sensitivity, flexibility and easy-going yet professional approach means he is sought after by clients in the advertising, design, editorial, and cultural sectors. He works from his central Melbourne home studio, frequently shooting on location around Australia.
ANZ, Australia Ballet, Australia Post, Australian Youth Orchestra, Acil Allen, ABC, Carr, CSL Behring, DKO, Seek, NAB, NASA JPL, Monash University, Energy Australia, Ernst Young, Swinburne University, Hardie Grant, Walt Disney Company, XYZ Studios.