In our latest video series with Braun, we present seven style experts from seven dynamic cities, each with a unique voice and perspective on fashion. With years of industry experience, their networks are vast, and they each introduce us to three inspiring men from different age and professional groups who represent their city’s style.
Justin Bridges is a New York-based fashion and lifestyle photographer from Atlanta, Georgia. Bridges took a giant leap after the financial crisis by quitting his job at Goldman Sachs to explore his passions. He worked at J. Crew, Saks 5th Avenue and the Sartorialist before going it alone as a freelancer shooting online and print editorials, advertising campaigns, lookbooks and digital content for brands.
Bridges has defied conventions and done things his way, finding a rhythm that suits his lifestyle along the way. As a fashion photographer, it's important that he encourages people to share their unique character and personal style.
Before taking to the streets, we sat down with Bridges to discuss his unconventional career path, photography, grooming regrets and more. Read the interview below and watch our video above before checking out the previous installments in our Braun series from Paris, London, Sydney, Berlin and Hong Kong.
You took a big risk leaving finance for a photography career but how do you continue to challenge yourself?
The biggest risk was not having a steady paycheck. However, I think staying in a job that you don’t love is a greater risk, and I made the best possible choice for me. I try to stay competitive by always learning, reading, watching informative videos and pushing myself to do more than just photography. For example, I’m doing brand strategy, creative strategy and starting a podcast. I like finding things that make me excited to wake up in the morning.
What makes a great photograph?
There are a lot of technical ways to describe a great photograph, and they’re all well and good, but for me, a good photo is one that evokes an emotion or sends a message, even when unintended. Something that takes you out of the Instagram mindstate and makes you look at a photo for more than five seconds.
What makes your city an international fashion capital?
New York City is special because you can be anything you want to be, you can reinvent yourself millions of times and nobody will even think twice about it. I haven’t been to another city that feels like you can get away with what you can here. New York has a hustle and flow that can’t be copied.
Where do you look for aesthetic inspiration?
I don’t want to find my inspiration from people whose job it is to contrive it. I want to find my inspiration from sources that have absorbed it naturally. With that said, when I’m looking for photographic inspiration there’s no way I’m not going to flip through an old photographers book or search online for new photographers doing cool things.
How has your personal style developed with age?
Growing up in Atlanta it was very much hip-hop influenced, but then I wanted to dress nicer in college. When I got to New York, I was suited up for my corporate job and experimented a little bit with Americana and heritage. Now I've just landed on this all-black tone.
Braun’s original shaver was a revolutionary product. What else do you think has significantly impacted the way we perceive male grooming today?
I think the rise of the “new-age barbershop” has been tremendous in making men feel more comfortable talking about grooming. You can go to a barbershop, enjoy a Scotch and just speak to your barber, whereas back in the day you’d go in feeling odd. If you’re a black guy like me, we always had the neighborhood barbershop which was just full of shit talking all day but you never got to talk about grooming because that was too effeminate. Now you can take an idea from a movie or a show, or the barber just knows what will fit your face. You can discuss the right product to use after the cut or how to trim your beard.
Have you ever made any grooming decisions you regret?
I don’t have any… actually yes! *laughs* The only decision I’ve made that I regret was during high school. I had cornrows which I liked but I also cut my beard in those thin pencil lines. It just didn’t work the way that I planned it, at the time I thought it looked cool as hell but looking back...
Name: Alex O'Brien Age: 22 Profession: Student and brand strategist
Alex described taking an irreverent approach to style, never taking himself too seriously or getting caught up in hype. That said, he appreciates the quality that comes with high-end designer purchases. "New York has refined the way I dress in that I really only wear a few colors, designers, and pieces from those designers," he explained. "My schedule is relatively inconsistent at this point in my life, so I like to keep it consistent and easy." His finely trimmed stubble also allows Alex to keep his grooming routine uncomplicated.
The Young Professional
Name: Christopher Fenimore Age: 25 Profession: Brand & E-commerce Director
Christopher generally maintains a semi-casual look but comfort is key: "I'm actually always on the go, I don't really own uncomfortable clothing and it's all utilitarian in some way. I don't know if my style represents New York so much as it's a product of it." A close trim allows him to maintain a consistently professional appearance.
Name: Sachin Bhola Age: 32 Profession: Editorial Director
Sachin likes chic but easy-to-wear pieces in colors and cuts that he feels are special. He puts them together intuitively after years of experience. "I walk a lot in New York, so I think about practicality when dressing." He continued, "The other thing about walking around New York is the inspiration you get and the culture you discover, and that influences our style." Sachin's beard is well groomed and it enhances his facial features.