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Here at California.com, photographer Brin Hanson is the brilliant creative curating our site's visual content. Her crisp, vibrant—yet slightly moody—aesthetic captured our hearts, and her sweet demeanor perfectly complements her talents. Though she grew up in Minnesota and lived in New York City for over four years, she is proud to call San Francisco home now.
When she’s not in the California.com office making everyone jealous of her impeccable fashion sense, you can find her dribbling on the basketball courts; hanging out with her dog, Lenny; watching movies; flipping through magazines; and running around S.F. with her friends. But regardless of what she’s doing, this pro photographer is always ready to answer when inspiration calls.
We set out to get all the deets—such as what lens she uses, what challenges she faces, and how she got her start in photography—so we could give you the inside scoop.
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Q: What inspired you to move to the Bay Area?
A: There was the reason, and then there was the push. The reason was to be able to do what I love for an incredible company that values workplace culture and common-good practices. The push was the opportunity to explore a whole new city, state, and coast. It was terrifying to leave everyone and everything I knew, but the thrill of taking on a new adventure surpassed any fear I had.
Q: What do you like most about living in San Francisco?
A: I love the diverse activities the city offers. Want a night out with your friends? Easy. Want [to spend] a day hiking up a mountain? No problem! Wanna start your morning with a refreshing surf session? You betcha.
Q: What's your favorite part of working at California.com?
A: Oh, man! It's hard to choose one favorite. But I love being able to do what I love—shooting, curating, and traveling—[while being] surrounded by incredible and talented people. As a photographer, the best part is working with other talented creatives on a shoot, whether that's the model(s), art director, stylist, etc. I love working with others to take a story and create it visually.
Q: What is your vision for the visual content on California.com?
A: I want the images we shoot and curate to be distinctly California.com and to highlight what California has to offer residents and visitors. The content should spark curiosity—the desire for adventure and new experiences.
Q: What has been your favorite place in California to photograph so far?
A: Coming from New York, being able to photograph all the remarkable views and nature California has to offer has really been a treat. But if I had to choose somewhere specific, Sausalito was really fun for me—I had never seen anything like it before. If you haven't been, I recommend checking it out.
Q: What are you excited to shoot next in California?
A: I can't even answer this question because there is so much I am excited to shoot. California is so diverse and has so much to offer.
Q: Have you always known that you wanted to be a photographer?
A: YES. The greatest day was whenever the National Geographic magazine came [to my house] as a kid. I would tear out the photos and plaster them all over my wall.
Q: How did you learn and improve your photography skills?
A: Everything I learned was from watching YouTube videos, reading, and not being afraid to ask other photographers questions—I never took a class. Also, every time I was a second shooter, I learned something valuable from the photographer.
Q: What do you wish you had known when you were first starting out?
A: Shooting what you really enjoy shooting creates opportunity to shoot what you really enjoy shooting. Duh, right? But starting out, it's easy to follow the money—even when [you’re not shooting things] you would like to be shooting.
In short: Shoot what you like and be patient; the money will come.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting his or her photography career?
A: Don't be afraid to promote yourself. It feels weird, but just cringe a little and carry on.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
A: Learning to not compare myself to other photographers. I think regardless of the field we are in, we all battle [comparing ourselves to others] at times.
Q: How did you overcome this challenge?
A: As a human, I think this is something I'll always be working on. But hearing a photographer friend of mine—who is beyond talented and successful—tell me he has no idea what the F he is doing half the time helped me to be less hard on myself. We all feel inadequate at times, and our confidence can shake—and that's okay. But you have to balance those days with the days you look at your work and think to yourself, Damn, I'm good!
Q: What is the best piece of photo equipment you've ever purchased?
A: My 24–70mm zoom lens. I've run that poor baby into the ground, but it's my go-to lens.
To see more of Brin Hanson’s incredible work, check out her photos on California.com and our Facebook and Instagram accounts. You can also visit her website and follow her adventures on Instagram.
Rachael Medina is the staff writer and content manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests of Humboldt C…
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