When Branson died suddenly in 2012 at 49 years of age, he left behind an incredible wealth of photographs documenting the arts and fashion scene of the '80s and '90s. A native Angeleno, Branson loved Hollywood's Golden Age and charmed his way into an assistant position with Gloria Swanson at age seventeen. Later, under the tutelage of renowned photographer Paul Jasmin, Branson's portraits of pop and underground cult icons began appearing in magazines including Andy Warhol’s Interview, Vanity Fair, L.A. Style, and Rolling Stone.
In 1988 Branson relocated to Amsterdam and started working under the name Indüstria with Dutch artist Fritz Kok. The pair were featured in international magazines including Blitz, Diva, The Face, Harpers & Queen, Select, and Vogue and in exhibitions at both London’s Victoria and Albert Musuem and the Black and White Gallery. Album covers included Boy George, and Robert Palmer's Addictions Vols. 1 and 2. Branson’s photographs also appeared on albums for George Michael, Elton John, Paul Rutherford, and Marc Almond.
Branson was the official portrait photographer for Vivienne Westwood and worked with other fashion icons such as John Galliano, Thierry Mugler, Katherine Hamnett, Jasper Conran, and Stephen Jones. Model works include “the Trinity”; Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington.
In 1983, then editor at Interview magazine, Robert Hayes, was impressed by test shots of the Eurythmics Branson had shot when the duo was virtually unknown in the U.S. (Sweet Dreams had not yet been released in North America). He ran Branson’s work in an upcoming issue of Interview and was then hired as a contributing photographer for the magazine which lasted 10 years.
When this image was shot, Annie Lennox made herself up as the Phillip Morris bellhop but the 20 year old Branson had to create a microphone out of paper because he couldn’t afford to rent a real one.
On his return to Los Angeles in December, 1983 Larry Gagosian rented a studio for Basquiat on Market Street in Venice, California, where the artist begins a series of paintings on wood panels which were later shown at the Mary Boone Gallery in New York, and include Flexible, Water-Worshipper, and Gold Griot. Introduced by a friend who was an assistant to Basquiat at that time, Branson shot several images of the artist, including this one, at his Venice studio in July, 1984.
Brad remembers, “Edie came to L.A. and stayed with me for three months. I became her manager and handled the details of her record contract; it was a one-off deal for a cover version of the Four Seasons’ classic, Big Girls Don’t Cry, backed with a home grown ditty, Hey, Girls, Get Off of the Grass!”
From Brad’s 1987 journal recalling the shoot: “Bryan shows almost 1 hour late, but how charming! He’s a perfect English Gentleman. I’ve wanted to shoot this man forever and here I am. Like the early days of really admiring who you’re shooting. A romantic and kind as I had hoped.”
Photo Independent, April 29-May 1, 2016, is the only international art fair bridging the gap between those who love and collect photography and the artists who make it. Now in its third year, Photo Independent is championing a new generation of photographers and is quickly becoming one of the most significant annual photographic events in the United States.
Brad Branson's Estate Collection was curated by his sister Jan Lane. See it at Photo Independent, opening April 29 until May 1 at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood.