We had the good fortune of connecting with Todd Bradley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Todd, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Maybe I have deep-rooted parental issues, or maybe it’s just my August birthday Leo nature of needing to be praised. But I’m always striving for more. More shows, more articles, more sales, and with it, more praise! Once I figure out what I want to say with my work, I drive in headfirst and the whole project will consume me then I leave the work and come up for air and revisit it with fresh eyes a few days to weeks later. It’s difficult to do at first but you need to clear your mind. After I edit down the project I’ll present it to Snowcreek collaborative, a group of photographer friends I trust, and let them give me feedback. I usually take their advice but sometimes I don’t, but they are without a doubt one of the most important factors in my process. They are the gatekeepers in a way. They keep me focused on my goal, they point out things I may have missed or may not have seen. They offer genuine critiques and are able to talk about the issue at hand and help you get through it respectfully. They all want me to succeed just as I want each of them to succeed as well. When it comes right down to it, whatever it is that you do, if you’re putting in 150% every day for the best possible outcome, that’s a success. Even if you fail during the process, it’s still a success for doing the work and learning from the challenge. Branding is one of the key components to success today and in the future for most artists. You have to stand out in this sea of people. There are a few ways of doing that, mine is a conscious effort of putting my brand logo on everything I do. My unique copyrighted logo is on everything that has my name on it, my cards, my t-shirts, portfolio boxes, my approval stamp for the back of my photography, boxes that I’m shipping art to museums in, and my packaging. In my project “War Stories I Never Heard” I have also taken this approach for the project as a whole. War Stories has it’s own logo, two in fact. There are two typeface fonts that are used on everything, all type is green. I created a very unique personalized gift for all the curators and publishers I met with at portfolio reviews. I’ve been told It’s considered one of the best gifts ever given as a leave-behind. It has an Army waterproof tin labeled “War Stories Mini-Exhibition” and are numbered limited editions. Inside is a colophon card stating what’s inside. A deck of 15 mini prints (3×5), a personalized dog tag necklace with a USB card on one of the dog tags. that contained my Bio, CV, and three mini-movies about WW2 I made. Because my project was made creating dioramas of war scenes,(hence the title “mini-exhibition”!) it also contained a little army man that was the tiny 1:87 scale I shoot at, this gave them a better understanding of the perspective of the dioramas. In Photo reviews, when 98% of the photographers are handing out postcards of their work, I needed something to stand out in this sea of photographers and to stay relevant after the fact. My War Stories I Never Heard Mini-Exhibition gift keeps me on their minds long after the initial meeting. It cost me a lot to make these but it was a small price to pay for the exposure and opportunities I’ve gained from it. I’m currently working on a book for this project and the same elements I mentioned above for the project will continue. It all works together to form one complete well thought out project. And that makes it easier to sell as a proposal to institutions. I’m learning as I go, I’ve only been doing fine art photography for about 8 years. But my 20 years of owning and marketing a hair salon taught me a lot and this last photography strategy of marketing my project as a brand and has been a big success so far. 

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a macro still life fine art photographer that builds and shoots dioramas, alternative portraiture, and digital manipulation. I design and construct scale model dioramas that become my narrative. I create mini sets light them and take extreme close-ups of the tiny figures that are no bigger than a nickel. My work focuses on decay, whether it is seedpods, structures, or our society. Right now I’m most excited about the book I’m working on. It’s in the book dummy phase where I create a mock-up of the artist book that will be as close to the final product as can be. I can then shop it to different publishers and to find someone of importance in photography and WW2 to write the forward. know someone? contact me!! Anyway, it’s been really exciting to see this become a true book and not a print on demand book. Those have a purpose and there is nothing wrong with POD, I’ve done a few but this is different. My first portfolio review in Palm Springs, California about 7 or 8 years ago went awful. A reviewer told me to hang up my camera and not to return unless I went to school. No schooling however, today I currently have a solo exhibition in a museum in Boston! and a bunch of group shows, magazine features, I even have my photos on a bus enclosure in Seattle Washington! I couldn’t afford an MFA program or the time at this point in my life. So I created my own. I found a collaborative to join. I knew the criticism would be necessary, I found other photographers with and without MFAs at a slightly more advanced level than me and I looked at the shows they were entering and getting into. I found the gallerists and curators I wanted to get in front of and looked at the quality of work they were picking for shows and I learned how to produce that quality of a photograph. It’s not just an image on paper, it’s a well thought out composition that has emotion and experience and the tools behind it to create something extraordinary. And I learned what a cohesive body of work is in today’s art world because it looked nothing like the arts I left in the 1980s when I was some photography courses in community college. And I learned how to approach the people I wanted to meet and what it takes to get into their circles, even if it’s just on their radar. These are art people, they don’t like to be approached cold. There is a now fabled story of a curator being followed into the bathroom and the stocker’s portfolio slipped under the stall for her to view while she did her business.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a bit of a hermit and I don’t like to go out. I’m a great cook and have a great kitchen and a vegetable garden and service isn’t what it used to be. But if someone wanted to see San Diego in one day, I’d tell them to stop at BFD for a breakfast sandwich and coffee and then head to the harbor island docks and rent a little two-seater boat and fish in the bay it’s a fun way to see San Diego bay and the Coronado bridge. Lunch at Cuarto Milpas and a quick visit to view Chicano park’s murals. Bread and Salt Gallery is nearby. Balboa Park to the Museum of Photography(MOPA) or the Museum of Art’s current exhibits. For nightlife, I prefer to stay close to home, a walking distance so I can have a cocktail or two. Normal Heights is always bustling at night so anywhere is good even during covid. The take-out is great and the cocktails in mason jars and vacuum-sealed bags are definitely a novelty if nothing else.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ll mention them again, Snow Creek Collaborative we are a private group of fine art photographers that meets up once a month to support one another through critique, discussions, technique, and education. It’s been interesting through Covid but it means so much to all of us we have found a way to present our work on Zoom. We all miss being able to delicately handle each other’s work and to see the marker’s mark close up but this is a pretty fantastic way to meet when some members are quarantining far away but can still be together. Another is Medium Photo Festival https://www.mediumphoto.org has opened many doors for me through their portfolio reviews and highly recommend buying a ticket for reviews and/or for the photo lectures if you enjoy photography.

Website: https://www.toddbradleyphotography.com
Instagram: Mrtoddbradley
Linkedin: Mrtoddbradley
Twitter: @Mrtoddbradley
Facebook: Mrtoddbradley

Image Credits
© Todd Bradley

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.