ChatterArtist June 2012 – Ian Bradshaw

Ian Bradshaw

So this month naturally we are featuring a Gemini photographer, my old pal Ian Bradshaw, born June 8th, which also happens to be the same birthday as Joan Rivers and my assistant Chelsea, how ironic is that? And not only does Ian’s personality fit the Gemini bill, it is also fascinating to see how perfectly suited he is to his chosen profession as well as this month’s theme of communication, because for Ian, it is all about communication, and it is good communication that helps him to get the best shot, or at least that’s what he told me!

Ian started out in the newspaper world as a photojournalist, as many great photographers did, but he also spent several years as a photo editor as well. It was all good training ground, and something that Ian believes is seriously lacking in the way photography is taught now. And not only is education important for him, it also comprises much of his commercial work these days as America’s leading education photographer, and earning him five CASE awards and six Addys for his work in this specialist field. And besides all of that, Ian has had a long and illustrious career spanning several decades of traveling the globe, winning numerous awards, and publishing several books including his Retrospective, which is available on Blurb –

“Fish Face” – Young patient with his doctors by the aquarium @ the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, PA
© Ian Bradshaw

Ian has photographed everyone, from Presidents and Prime Ministers, Celebrities and Royalty, to Doctors and Patients, or Faculty and Students, – but it doesn’t matter who he’s photographing, he’ll treat them all pretty much in the same way. In our conversations, we have often talked about the importance of communication and he confesses that his current strategy works well for him, especially in the college and university environments. He deliberately chooses to work with younger female assistants, because he feels they are more “approachable” and less threatening. On the West Coast it is Kristy Campbell, and on the East Coast it is Hope Hillman, neither went to school for photography, but Ian has taught them pretty much everything they needed to know. And when Hope is not working with Ian, she runs a pub and two bars/restaurants, which Ian says has definitely provided her with some great communication skills in dealing with the students!

Breakdancing Class President, Claremont McKenna College, CA
© Ian Bradshaw

Another Gemini trait that Ian displays so naturally is the art of storytelling and even though there is often a great story that is clearly being told within his photographs, there is always an even better one behind it. He has this wonderful knack of asking people to do crazy things for him, and they do it, willingly. For example, at one of his favorite colleges he photographed a series of sporting scholars, and instead of them being dressed in their appropriate gear, he had them in civvies. So when the water polo player was asked if he wouldn’t mind standing in the swimming pool in his best suit, he said sure, no problem, and it certainly made for a fun shot. But the even better story is that because the pool was a lot deeper than the height of the student, he had to enlist several of his team-mates to help sink and secure a table and a stepladder underneath the water at the bottom of the pool for him to stand on!

Water Polo Player, Claremont McKenna College, CA
© Ian Bradshaw

Now, although Ian has photographed all manner of subjects throughout his career, I would be remiss not to mention one of his early “claims to fame” which won him LIFE magazine’s “Picture of the Year,” People magazine’s “Picture of the Decade” (it was the 70’s) and a World Press Photo Award for his famous photograph of a “Streaker” being arrested by a London copper who is strategically holding his police helmet over the naked man’s private parts. Who knew that this one lucky image would stand the test of time and become something so iconic? The latest incarnation is a limited edition of 5 silver gelatin prints (two of which are already sold), and yet ironically there are currently no prints of this kind in the U.K. There is one print in the British Museum of Photography but Ian’s never been asked to sign it! The story behind this photograph goes like this: At the time, Ian was at Twickenham to photograph an England-France rugby match, and for whatever reason, he was standing at the opposite end of the field to where all the other photographers were. He had one lens and one moment to grab the shot – and it was the shot that nobody else got! That’s what he does. Ian gets the shot that no one else does.

The Twickenham Streaker, Michael O’Brien, 1974
© Ian Bradshaw
To see all of Ian’s work please visit: