Brittany O'Brien has always been one of those artists that serves as a constant reminder as to why I have chosen tour photography as a career path. Her endless passion and her ability to capture moments that are so tangibly somber, you can feel their warmth on your skin. I am forever inspired by her artistry and grace, and recently I was lucky enough to catch her in between her run with Hippo Campus and her week out west with COIN. I hope you enjoy our chat on all things film, inspiration, and the industry. - Trin.
Tuesday: First, we want to thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! You’ve been hopping from tour to tour for years now, so saying that you have been busy is a huge understatement. Where are you currently?
Brit: it's been a wild couple years. that's for sure.
currently in Los Angeles. (i moved here yesterday!) preparing to hit the road with COIN - i fly up to seattle tomorrow to start the journey.
While touring, you’ve shot shows everywhere around the world, from clubs to arenas to massive fests; do you find that your workflow thrives in certain venues and settings over others?
this is a great question! and yes - every venue type brings out a different creative "feel" to me.
i think i work best in theaters. everything from the architecture to the green rooms - they usually have such a distinct and versatile feel that i thrive on. it's harder working in tiny rooms and arenas - usually more of an empty (color and "vibe" wise) feeling in these spaces - a little harder to be creative. but sometimes making myself search for moments in these spaces leads to the best photos.
With growing up and being based in California, do you feel like your local creative scene/culture has affected you or your work? Whether it be technique, attitude or anywhere in between.
yes! lucky to live here. i got my start at small clubs in san francisco - the energy of the city, the desire and passion in the music scene fueled me to make this work. being surrounded by other people who also wanted nothing more than to work in music was truly special - especially watching friends find success with me.
Tour photography as a profession has become incredibly popularized and sought after. Do you agree with the common opinion that the industry is becoming oversaturated? Or do you believe that there can never be too many creatives?
very interesting thought.
it's truly hard to say. there are always going to be bands of every size - and photographers to go with. i think everyone deserves to pursue their passion and there are never going to be too many creatives. i do think the "best" will make it into a lasting career and a lot of people will do a tour or two - realize how hard touring is and the "lust" for it will falter. I think the industry will naturally ween out people who want it for real and those who want the idea of touring life.
You recently announced that you are working on a photo book documenting life on the road and giving your tricks of the trade. What has your process been like choosing what type of content will make it into the final copy?
so excited for my book!!!!! can't wait.
i've had an idea for the book since my very first tour. the content has been in the works since 2016. i had this idea to make "guides" -- the idea of how to survive the road. i thought it would be a fun and silly way to engage people, a unique spin on a classic photo book. telling people stories from gas stations in the middle of nowhere. keeping track of little memories i would otherwise forget. documenting everything.
i've cut a lot of stories and have been trying to shove as much from them as i can into each "guide" - the hardest part has been trying to decide which photos to use.
You always capture the intimate and quiet moments on the road, seeing this side of tour is something so special that most don’t get to see. What have been some of the moments that made you stop and think, ‘Wow, this is my job’?
ugh, i feel that way every day. truly.
really genuine peaceful moments...when no one knows i am around..those are my favorite times on the road to capture. so incredibly honest - the emotion, whatever is being felt in that moment, i can truly capture that feeling, that moment in time on the road.
i can picture this second while on the road with Hippo Campus where Nathan had his chin on the windowsill - and was staring out the window, sorta lost in it. i snuck up from the side and shot a photo of the sunset and the warmth and this emotion he was putting out into the world without knowing it. really embodied the feeling of that day on tour and having that moment to look back on and remembering that feeling - that's what makes me feel so lucky to have this job.
In all your travels, has there been a particular city or place whose culture or energy inspired your work?
ah! so many!
besides nyc... which holds that energy of many of my favorite rock bands... two others come to mind right away.
the first was Prague. the creative energy and feeling i had in that city...was incredible. i would go back in a heartbeat to photograph anything there.
the second is Detroit. i have had a huge crush on that city for years. since my first tour in 2016.
Although the scales are slowly but surely balancing out, the music industry still lacks fair representation. Do you have any advice for young women trying to get started in the industry but are scared of not being taken seriously?
confidence is everything. i have been lucky to not face a lot of negativity in this area - but have noticed that when i do feel like i'm talking to someone who might not want to take me seriously.. the more confident i am with myself, the more power i hold in a conversation.
women can do anything in this industry and the best way to make it happen is to pursue it. being scared of what could happen takes away from your chances of it actually happening. fight for yourself!
You do not want to miss out on any of Brit's content, so be sure to keep up with her on Instagram, Twitter, and keep tabs on her website for her upcoming photo book.