A Behind the Lens Hump Day with Dave Brewer

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Dave Brewer posing with an oddly dressed June Bhongjan.  p. Dave Brewer

Simply put, Dave Brewer is a nice guy, and while he’ll never admit it, a great photographer. Dave’s range as a photographer expands far past snowboarding, as do all aspects of his life. When not traveling through Mexico in search of photos or proactively helping those less fortunate than himself you’ll find Dave behind the lens, frozen toes and all, snapping photos of his friends all over the SLC wasteland. Incredibly hard working and true to both himself and his beliefs I don’t think Dave has many bad days. What an asshole. 

Well Dave works his ass off, and he will shoot everything, (which is rare to find in a photographer these days) big, small, handrail, something creative, and he will make it look really sweet. He is good at what he does, and he is big in the clubbin’ scene for taking photos.” -Will Tuddenham

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Yobeat: Are you willing to take random photo gigs to pay the bills? 

Dave Brewer: Oh I am already doing that. A few weeks ago I shot the entire product photo catalog for my friends that own FUNhat as well as going out on location with them all day. I think that was actually made into a Terrible Tuesday Tip. Aside from that, I do all sorts of random photo jobs for people. Just today, some guy asked me if I could manipulate some of his photos to make them look Tim Burton-esque. I’ll give it a try. I have shot a ton of musicians, portraits, head shots, engagements, concerts. I think each subject matter presents a learning opportunity. I have fun with them all.

Yobeat: Would you shoot porn?

Is this a trick question ‘cuz I am Mormon?

Yobeat: Sort of.

Naw’, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing that was my profession. Cheers to the guys that can, but I find it too degrading to other forms of art as well as woman.

Yobeat: What about Playboy, that’s barely even porn these days?

It’s all the same.

Yobeat: Would you shoot anyone in the nude?

Maybe Nick Lipton or Brooke Geery if it were to get my photo into the Firing Squad. You guys have been holding onto it for quite some time.

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Ben Rice coming in hot on this cement close out.   p. Dave Brewer

Yobeat: How do you pay the bills, and what eats into your pasta fund?

I suppose most of my bills have been paid by random clubs and DJ’s that hire me to set up a digital studio photo booth at events. It started out as just a side project. I had a few friends that started doing it in Salt Lake and one night they couldn’t, another friend asked me to fill in, and people just kept asking me to set up at their events. So that pays my bills, and other bills still remain unpaid.

Yobeat: Do people ever get wild in front of the photobooth?

Well a few of the Team Thunder guys, Ben Gustafson, Eric Fernandez, and Kyle Fischer exposed themselves to me on the count of three…I wasn’t really expecting that, but it made for an interesting print.

Yobeat: Any girls ever pull the tits out?

Not at any photo booths. That only happened when I covered the Insane Clown Posse show for SLUG Magazine. I never asked anyone to, that’s not really my style, but random jugalettes were gettin’ wild. You can see that story with the photos in the November issue of SLUG.

Yobeat: Do chicks ever want to get rowdy because you’re a photographer, especially at parties?

Ha I don’t really know. I don’t really see it, but I could just not be looking. I like to dance, if that helps.

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Dave shows the fear grip he used while at the Insane Clown Posse concert. 

Yobeat: Moving onto snowboarding photography. Who do you generally shoot with?

I have been shooting Team Thunder since day one. Back when it was just my friends and I in high school. There have been a lot of changes to the crew over the years, but that’s another story…But ya, Thunders like Will Tuddenham, Ben Gustafson, Cody Comrie, Deserson (RIP) That’s Desiree Melancon and Harrison Gordan when they were still going steady. They were always together, so we just started asking if “Deserson” was coming to shoot photos etc. I like going out with other SLC crews like Variety Pack, and Dinobots too. 

Yobeat: Who are the most entertaining guys you shoot? Be it because of their riding, personality, inability to take care of themselves or whatever.

Wowzers. I have always liked shooting with Ben Gustafson just because he always makes something out of nothing. Will T is great to shoot with ‘cuz I have had the privilege of shooting with him since he was just starting out. He is just the best guy! It hasn’t happened all that often, but when I go out with the VideoGrass crew I always have a good time. Nick Dirks is one of the most entertaining people I know. Next time you see him ask him to tell you the story about Rusty Me Gusta. He is this old guy in a wheelchair that he met at the bar. He ended up inviting him over to Pat Fenelons house and Nick skitched a ride on his skateboard getting pulled behind Rusty Me Gustas motorized wheelchair. To make a long story short, the guy ended up sleeping over at Pats and his motorized wheelchair battery died. Nick was kind enough to drive him home in the bed of his truck the next morning. Entertaining.

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Ben Gustafson, the guy’s a legend.  p. Dave Brewer

Yobeat: So what is a day like in the life of a snowboard photographer? How late are you out? Do you have to be up in the morning? Is it a constant drive? Or just spurts of intensity?

I try to be up as early as my little body lets me. It depends on the day. But I remember last season, I pissed off Deserson (or mainly just Desiree) ‘cuz they were in town and I had a few spots in mind that I wanted to shoot. So I kept calling her in the morning trying to make plans. I guess she was still asleep. After finally after getting ahold of her, she was like, “Dude, just chill!.” We ended up getting a shot a few hours later. Some nights are long and you go through a ton of batteries, but I think those are the most fun. If you are with your friends, all is well.

Yobeat: How many times have you been out with Desiree and not gotten the shot?

(Laughing) Sometimes she blows it. No but really I don’t have too many great shots of her, but a few that are decent.

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Desiree doesn’t always blow it, and when she doesn’t, the result is magic like this.  p. Dave Brewer

Yobeat: When you’re shooting with girls and they slam, do you ever feel bad?

I never really thought of it like that. I guess ‘cuz I am not sexist like you. Teasing. No, but really I don’t mean to turn the focus back to Desiree but she has a good mindset. Same with when I am shooting with Laura Hadar or June Bhongjan, They don’t want to limit themselves ‘cuz they are girls. All three of them push themselves harder than a lot of the guys I shoot. I guess that’s why I don’t feel bad when they fall. Sometimes I get concerned, but just as I would if any guy rider were to fall. Des, Laura, and June are also incredible to shoot with. Throw them in the mix.

Yobeat: Have you ever been behind the lens when someone got seriously hurt? What’s that like as a photographer?

Ya, years ago filming for Team Thunders first video that was called “Timid and Tame”, one of my best friends, Ricky Cheney slammed down some bare stairs and broke his collar bone. He couldn’t move and we had to get him into the truck and drive an hour to the hospital. As the photographer, I was high up in a tree and there were so many people there that day that they seemed like they were handling it just fine so I stayed up and just shot photos of the whole thing.

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Man remember when headbands were cool?    p. Dave Brewer 

Yobeat: Do you ever get pissed waiting around for riders to land their tricks, especially during cold late nights?

There have been a few frustrating nights, yes. But if you are with your friends and can make light of the situation then everything turns out fine. I shoot a lot of photos that I know will never see the pages of any magazine. But that is all part of learning and paying some dues. Eventually, if you work hard enough, it will pay off one way or another.

Yobeat: Why are you so into Mexico?

(Laughs) Many people might not assume, but I lived in Mexico City for two years as a missionary for my church from 2004-2006. I enjoyed the experience and tried to help people in any or all aspects of their life, not even necessarily focusing just on religion. Although that was the main purpose that I lived there. I fell in love with the culture and the language. I have been taking trips back to Mexico City and have visited almost every other state twice a year ever since. So there.

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I’m convinced this was taken in India, but Dave swears by Mexico.   p. Dave Brewer 

Yobeat: Where do you find the means to be such a well traveled young man?

Aside from bussing and waiting tables in a fancy sushi restaurant a while back, I have also participated in a few random medical studies where they only accept “healthy individuals” that I guess don’t drink or smoke crack. Those seem to be the only requirements to get in. I almost didn’t make the weight limit for the last one I did. So I bought some ankle weights. You know the kind that old ladies wear when they work out, and I wore some baggy pants and hid them around my ankles during the first physical to see if I would qualify. I was super nervous and everything was running smooth until the nurse had to hook me up to this machine to test my heart rate or something all throughout my body. She had to stick these patches all over my body and started rolling up my pant leg. I immediately sat up and tried to help her and push the ankle weight higher up on my leg but it wouldn’t budge. After a few awkward moments of me struggling to roll up my obviously baggy enough jeans, I finally broke down and told the truth about hiding ankle weights. I have honestly never felt more embarrassed in my life. The nurse was disappointed but later laughed it off after she weighed me and I made the cut by like half a pound.

Yobeat: What do you do when the cops roll up and you’re stuck standing there with lights, poles, flashes, and an open camera bag?

That reminds me of this photo that Lance Hakker shot that I found on the Ashbury blog. It is a photo of me talking to a few cops wearing a pajama suit and some hand-me-down Forum boots from Jake Welch. In SLC it is almost impossible to go out shooting without dealing with the cops. For the most part, you just have to comply and shovel the runway. But I have been known to have a way with words when it is otherwise impossible to come back. There have been a few times that they have let us keep filming. I have used the “school project” excuse before.

Yobeat: Have you ever been in a situation where everyone ran and left you stranded with your gear?

No, nobody runs these days…really?

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This awesome image was stolen from the Ashbury blog.   p. stolen

Yobeat: So is your goal to be a career photographer? If so, do you have a point you’d like to reach?

Um, yea I guess I have always been a very visual person. I started shooting in junior high and just never really grew out of it. It seems to be the only thing that I can picture myself doing for the rest of my life. And that is knowing that it might not ever be very lucrative. I have some short term goals and some longer term goals. I know that short term for the next 10 years or so is being involved in the snowboard photo industry, but later in life, I really would love to be included as a Magnum Photographer. It is super hard to even be considered, but that’s why it’s a goal. I might not ever make it, but even if I fall short, I will be able to look back at what all I was able to accomplish in simply trying.

Yobeat: Do you have snowboard photographer heros, or photographer heros in general? 

In snowboard photography, of course I love Cole Barash’s work and Andy Wright. Justin L’heurex has helped me a ton. Bob Plumb. Oli Gagnon, Frode Sanbech. Aside from the snowboard industry I am really into Magnum Photo Journalists. Alex Webb worked on a long term Mexican project just as I have for the past three years. Mary Ellen Mark, and war photographer, James Nachtwey. Also, Chase Jarvis is one of my favorite commercial photogs.

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Will Tuddenham gave us a quote, so we gave him a picture.   p. Dave Brewer

Yobeat: Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

The same thing I keep telling myself. I am by no means where I want to be, but I feel like I am taking the right steps. Just shoot a ton of photos. I would recommend starting with film to learn how the camera actually works and then move to digital. They are very different, but they feed off each other. Shoot whoever. Again, it helps to shoot a crew that is still starting out. Maybe with time you will single out a few up and comers and help them get recognized and in doing so, it might just help you out as well. I might not be there yet, but I am having a good time nonetheless. Also, be patient, invest in good camera equipment ‘cuz eventually it will pay itself off. Just do what you enjoy doing.

Yobeat:What do you use when you go out and shoot?

I mainly shoot snowboarding digitally with a Nikon D2X. I have various lighting: Elinchrom Ranger AS Speed strobe pack with two A Heads. Sunpak 544s and 622’s. Nikon speedlights. Some reflectors, Sometimes I choose to use some color gels. I am trying not to overdo it though with color gels this season ‘cuz I got a bad rep. Nikon Lenses. Some Zoom, some standard 50mm 1.8. 10.5mm Fisheye.

Yobeat: Do you ever attract dudes?

Oh for sure, quite often. But it’s been a while since I have been to the Trapp Door (SLC Gay Bar hot spot even amongst snowboarders). That’s where Andy Wright and Robbie Sell continue to forget my name whenever they are in town.

For more on Dave’s photography and the Help-Portrait Project check below: 

Dave’s Photo Site

Dave’s Help-Portrait Project (A great organization worth taking a look at): 

Photobooth Help-Portrait

From Dave, I am working on this project and I would love it to get mentioned so people are aware of it. Basically, I am organizing a large city wide “Help-Portrait” photo shoot for underprivileged people in our community. There is no money involved. It’s not about me, or any of the other photographers that will be collaborating to make this happen.

17 replies
  1. FUNhat
    FUNhat says:

    Dave was able to charm a disgruntled restaurant chef who was not too happy that when we barged in to snap some photos. His moves are impressive on and off the dance floor.

  2. Robert Harold Sell III
    Robert Harold Sell III says:

    Oh, man. Sorry Dave!
    It’s nothing personal, I just have a very poor memory. When I was a coach at HCSC, Nick Lipton was a camper in my group, and I didn’t remember his name till the 5th day. …and I was hanging with him and only 6 others for a few hours everyday. Too many concussions I say.
    Who cares about the names, I remember your photos being some of the best out there. Keep up the great work.

  3. Dave
    Dave says:

    Robbie, Ha it’s cool. In your defense I think we have only met 2 or 3 times.
    But either way, I appreciate it. And also, the way you worded the “about” section of your website is perfect. I noticed that months ago and have been somewhat jealous ever since.

  4. Dylan
    Dylan says:

    yeah guyy! very inspiring skills. your wide angle skills really stand out. same with your industrialarchitecturesnowboardmixed shots! very good skills!

  5. Spencer Brewer
    Spencer Brewer says:

    Ben Brewer’s Dad (Clyde) and my Dad (Spencer Sr.) were brothers. That makes Dave Brewer and me second cousins, I am told. Now, I’ll tell the world that I am very proud of all the observed talents that Dave Brewer has developed during his young life. Keep it up and bless your heart ! Spencer

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