My name is Brendan Burkett, and I believe I have created an original device and street photography method. What I have done is attach a softbox to my back for ultimate portability. This allows me to get street portraits with a very unique light.
I live in Cincinnati and it all started when I went to Fountain Square downtown and was told that I needed a permit to use any kind of light stands or tripods. I noticed that some other photographers would get around this by having assistants carry a softbox on a monopod.
I thought, “What if I somehow attached the softbox to my back?”
After a few iterations in prototype designs, I landed on a design that was stable and adjustable. Basically it’s just a light stand duct taped to a backpack frame.
I knew that in order to get the soft look I was going for I needed to be close to my subjects. I chose 35mm as the perfect focal length. At first I was nervous to wear this in public… so I practiced on my dog.
I then ventured to a park and took pictures of statues. I finally mustered up the courage to ask a stranger for a portrait while wearing the portable softbox. He was polite and thought that I was either a photographer or I was looking for ghosts.
I have since built up the courage to walk freely around the city while wearing it. I get many people turning their heads to get a better look. One man yelled out his car window, “how many stations you pick up with that?!”. Some people find it strange and some people love it.
I have built a bit of a following on my Instagram, @bburk88, and have even been recognized on the street three times. The most common reaction from people is that it looks like a stop sign since it’s shaped like an octagon.
I have entered a series of these portraits in the Lens Culture Portrait awards. I think what makes this interesting is the method behind the portraits and not necessarily the portraits themselves, but together they tell an interesting story.