Luna Oscura by Brennen Cunningham

by Emily Jaime
Luna Oscura by Brennen Cunningham

This is a collection of images shot by Brennen Cunningham. He's a local boy, born on Maui, relocated to Oahu for 8 years and then moved again to the West Coast to road trip around, and finally settle in the Bay Area. Luna Oscura portrays the balance between dark and light. Featuring Kori Pilago as the model wearing YIREH streets of Gold.

We were also able to ask Brennen some valuable questions that may help you aspiring photographers keep your drive, and continue to do what you love. We are so thankful to have been able to work with him.

What do you do, and why did you start?

I do photography which I've loved since I was young but never saw as a career when I was a kid. I was working a 9-5 in the fashion industry which got me back into dabbling with photography. Having a set schedule and paycheck was nice but it lacked creativity and I found myself missing out on so many experiences that meant a lot to me. This and having friends who are talented creatives helped me realize that if I worked as hard for myself and on my skill set as I did for my bosses, I could build my own career around the things I love. I saw photography as a perfect avenue to live a creative life and do the things I enjoy; along with absolutely loving taking photos of course

Your Photography is beautiful, when you shoot what is it that you are trying to capture, and how do you come up with shoot concepts?

Thank you! That means a ton. haha Everything around us is so absolutely beautiful, everywhere has its own amazing character and beauty, just like people. I really appreciate the natural beauty and unique character in things or subjects and try to capture those subtleties in the most simple and intimate ways I can.

When it comes to shoot concepts its all about the emotion and vibe. I drive a lot and look at a lot of magazines and I'll see interesting places or concepts and those sit in my bran and I think of how to use a place or do an idea differently. This is something I definitely need to work on though.

What is it like owning your own business? Any tips for those that would like to branch out and do the same?

It's definitely tough and there are a lot of ups and downs. For a long time I had my work cut out for me and now I have to be completely self motivated. I love being busy and having a lot of work to do but when I'm busy I forget to line stuff up for the future. That's something I'm really trying to work on is keeping a more consistent work flow. It can also be financially challenging at times but it's important to remind yourself of your end goal and why you started in the first place and just keep working hard. At the end of the day it's all worth it and I am so grateful to have the freedom it allows me to have.

What are your go to's in your arsenal of photography gear?

I tried to put off getting a digital camera for as long as possible but finally caved. So I have my Canon 6D which I use for most shoots. It's great and works well for what I need it to do. I've loved how versatile digitals can be and the instant gratification. I've always loved the 50mm lenses but I've really started liking the 85mm lens on this camera.

As for what I enjoy, I basically have 2 film cameras that go everywhere with me; a Pentax k1000 which I've had since I was little and a Rollei 35. Both are super simple and relatively cheap, I'm not a believer that it takes nice gear to get great photos.

Being a creative takes a lot of energy out of you and sometimes we all lose that drive. How do you stay inspired?

Definitely. It's super easy for me to get complacent or stuck and nothing feels new around me after awhile. When this happens I try to get out of what I know and get a fresh perspective. I'll go for a walk and see a cool little nook or two strangers interacting and the beauty of that will often give me a jolt.

I've got a great group of friends who are also creatives and seeing what they're doing or talking about new projects always lights a fire in me to create more and create better. I've also been blessed with being able to travel a lot and see new things and places and this is where I am constantly able to draw inspiration from. Coming home from a trip or even a long drive always gives me new eyes and a fresh perspective.

What are your thoughts behind this set of images with Kori, what were you trying to portray?

With this project I wanted to do something a little different for the brand and I'm thankful that Emily let me explore that. I've been wanting to shoot in the jungle for awhile now. I just love the way the sun comes through the canopy and makes these beautiful pockets of light. Kori is naturally gorgeous so I just wanted to keep the looks simple and play off the dramatic lighting coming through the trees contrasting with the darkness of the shadows.

Last question, any tips for aspiring photographers out there? Why they should pursue this passion?

Just shoot a lot and be critical of your own work first and foremost. Try and pin point why you like certain images more than others and do the same with what you don't like. Similarly look at other artist's work and define what you like and don't like and apply that to your work. But most importantly stay focused on what you like, have fun, work hard and enjoy what you are doing. As a photographer you have one of the most amazing gifts, to share the beauty you see in the world with the people around you, so just have fun.

Brennen Cunningham of
Photographer and Writing: Brennen Cunningham @saltyeyesofapirate
Model: Kori Pilago @korihoney
Clothing: YIREH @yireh_
Jewelry: Aoko Su @aoko_su
Styling: Emily Jaime @emilyjaime

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