• UO Interviews: James and Brandon Stanciell

    Twin brothers James and Brandon Stanciell might look the same and both be photographers, but they possess separate and unique visions when it comes to capturing moments. However, in some uncanny way, they are as remarkably similar as they are different—much like the Yin to each other's Yang. We sat down with the west coast pair to learn about the process behind their distinct imagery and the special bond only being twins can bring.
    Photography by Jenny Nguyen

    Above: CPO Cassette Quilted Bomber, All-Son Waxed Canvas Ranger Jacket, Hawkings McGill Tapered Stretch Chino Pant, and Hawkings McGill Stretch Skinny Chino Pant

    Can you tell us a little more about yourselves?
    James: Sure! I live in a small desert city called Palmdale a little north of Los Angeles. I recently quit my job as a "Sandwich Artist" and am focusing more on designing and doing more things with the art collective I started a couple years ago called The Bad Vibes Brigade. I'm also shooting/creating more.

    Brandon: Yeah! I'm from the desert (Palmdale, California) but currently located in beautiful Los Angeles. I officially moved here a few of months ago and it's been great. Right now I work for a photographer as a Photo Assistant—the whole jazz. I'm also a photographer myself.

    What was the dynamic like as brothers growing up?
    J: I was always getting into trouble growing up; always loud and running around. Brandon was the complete opposite: Quiet and well-mannered. But I was always able to bring out the crazy in him, and most of the time he was able to calm me down when I needed to sit down and chill. We always balanced each other out.

    B: Your typical twins: Matching/color-coordinated clothing, always fought over the little things, and we shared everything. We became best friends when we were older. We tried to stay low-key, but the older we got the more attention we seemed to get.

    J: Even though we've taken a lot of very different paths in our lives we still always ended up on the same channel, and we are always supporting each other no matter what.

    How would you describe your photography aesthetic?
    J: I kind of just wing it. Very simple. Very honest. Very intimate. I mostly photograph my friends or places I've been with them.

    B: Floral based for sure. I like to think of my work as more of an art piece rather than just a photo. Lots of portraits and lots of color. I try to focus on a more intimate setting with my subjects.

    Brandon, flowers are something that consistently show up in your work. Can you tell us about that?
    B: Flowers play a huge role in my work—they're my staple. I've been studying different plants and I thought, "What better way to learn than to combine it with something I love?" I like to think of the models as my canvas and the flowers as my paintbrushes.

    James, you also create music in a number of bands. Can you expand on the music you make and what inspires you in that field?
    J: I'm a vocalist for a band called CoolSide which is a Youth Crew/Punk band, and I also play Drums in a Straight-Edge Punk outfit called Step-4-Change. Throughout grade school/high school, I listened to a lot of different music and played in bands. Punk music in particular influenced my life and the way I am today. For 7 years I've been straight edge, and that also plays a big role in my life. I love being able to express myself through music and meet people at shows that share similar interests. Also, touring is super sick! My band S4C had the opportunity to tour in 2015 which brought me to places I never thought I'd see.

    Above: CPO Striped Ribbed Mock-Neck Tees

    How would you say your creative vibe differs from your brother’s?
    J: Brandon has much more structure. He has more of a theme/something he's really into and going for, and I'm kind of just anywhere and everywhere with my work.

    B: I think James has more of a subtle lifestyle vibe to his photography. He's always capturing moments with his friends and what's going on around him. His vibes make me feel at home, whereas my creative vibe may be more serious and come on a bit stronger. I'm more up close and personal with my subjects.

    What themes/subjects do you get most excited to work with?
    J: Lighting always gets me stoked. I've only shot on film for the past 3-4 years. What I've come to love the most about it is how amazing certain times of the day tend to look with different speeds, brands, colors, etc.

    B: I always have the best time working with my good friend Kristopher. He has the biggest afro, and it's perfect for sticking flowers in.

    What’s your creative process like? How do you go from the spark of an idea to finished photograph?
    J: Very slowly. A roll of 36 exposures tends to last me 3 or 4 weeks. I've become very particular and tedious with most of the things I shoot now. Something has to really—and I mean REALLY—catch my eye for me to photograph it.

    B: I'll usually write out my creative process and try to draw how I see the pictures before I take them. I feel that if I write it out first the outcome will be more satisfying. It's like I'm bringing the idea to life. After that, I find a subject to photograph and start to make it happen.

    Do you guys ever collaborate on projects?
    J: On a serious project? Not yet. 

    B: Being twins, you would think James and I would collaborate more. We were so focused on creating our own stuff separately that we weren't too interested in working together. It was too obvious of us. 

    J: It's funny because growing up I was the first one shooting with a camera, and he would always come into my room and ask, "Hey, could you take some photos of me? I need a new Facebook profile picture." Does that count? Hahaha.

    What’s one thing most people probably don’t know about you?
    Both: That we're twins!

    What are some things being a twin brings that most people don’t experience?
    J: Lets keep this between us, yeah? I can read Brandon's mind. Kind of whacky, isn't it?

    B: Double the clothes, double the knowledge, double the friends. I mean the list goes on! Also, twin telepathy. That's real!

    What one word would you use to describe your brother?
    J: "BLOOM."

    B: "Wild."

    Tell us something we don’t know about your brother.
    J: Brandon is a rapper and goes by the name of Axel Fol E. He looks a young Eddie Murphy from Beverly Hills Cop!

    B: James was in a pilot episode of ER when we were babies. They covered him in jelly to make it look real.

    What tools do you make sure to always have on you just in case inspiration strikes somewhere random?
    J: My Yaschica T4: A great point-and-shoot to capture everything

    B: I always try to make sure I have my handy dandy Pentax point-and-shoot film camera and my phone to take notes.

    Anything cool planned for 2016?
    J: Hopefully making more art and music and collaborating more. Another big focus is getting Bad Vibes Brigade where I want it to be.

    B: I was invited to showcase my work and do a live art installation at UCSD on February 5th which is pretty cool. I'll also be part of another showing that's happening in late February. I'm hoping to travel a lot this year as well. I've never been on a plane before, so I'm hoping to change that!

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