The Passion of Brian Doben
Some artists work on passion projects to fill the time between commercial projects, using them as a font of inspiration. Where commercial projects are usually directed by the goals of a brand and have very specific parameters, a passion project allows an artist to explore what they care about, and find their own corner of expression. For Brian Doben, his "At Work" series has always operated as a passion project. It started off simply enough: to document people in their own space, doing their own work. It's a representation of how these people have chosen to spend their lives. But as Brian has continued his on going series, "At Work," it has blossomed into something bigger, and Elle Decor took note.
For their latest issue, Elle Decor had Brian continue his "At Work" in "Fashion Forward," a piece for their Inspiration section. Doing what he does best, Brian entered the spaces of seven of New York's most consequential designers, the creative minds behind some of the most successful, or up and coming brands. Coming from the fashion world, this was the perfect pairing between photographer and assignment. "It was great to combine both worlds,” Brian says. “I really love the passion. I got to meet with the designers and see where they are in their life, at home or in their studios, and talk to them about their story."
But "At Work" has changed Brian. It's allowed him to be a more generous artist, and that generosity appears in his frames. "Before 'At Work' I used to walk in with an armada, both in terms of crew and over thinking the scene,” says Brian. “The project is right in front of you, and the magic is two feet in front of you, and my job is to kind of sit back, see it, and then capture it. I walk into the space and I let them talk first. And I find when you do that and you listen, and you don’t interrupt there’s a trust that comes.” By staying quiet and listening, the subjects open up and allow themselves to be truly seen by Brian and his lens.
Brian brought those lessons to another shoot with Meredith Viera for People Magazine, and even though the two of them only had an hour, they found a way to be incredibly productive. "She’s just so real and so grounded,” he says. “She’s just a really wonderful woman and has such a positive light about her. Being around people like that, and photographing them, it’s so inspiring, you just feel their positive energy.” Not every subject is able to open up for a photographer like Meredith Viera did for Brian. It all comes back to how his passion project has afforded him the lessons to more effectively do what he is interested in. Artists have their passions, and when fed well, they recombine into their commercial work, building and growing off of one another, creating the perfect path.