Brandon Barela gravitates to the color turquoise. He reckons it’s the New Mexican in him.
So when he saw an old, classic car parked on a dusty street — its exterior the color of a swimming pool — he was drawn to it immediately.
He approached and discovered that the car’s interior was well-worn and scarred. It had apparently received as much care over the years as the curling paint of the exterior. He peered through a dusty pane to take in the scene. A New Mexican flag draped over the seat: worn out, but magnificent. The pride, the culture, the artistry of it all neatly framed by the rectangle of the window. He snapped the shot: his favorite.
Chasing color is often fruitful for Brandon — after all, the streets of New Mexico are full of it.
Initially fascinated by nature shots, he began sharing his photos on Instagram, mostly snaps of hikes he had taken. Positive feedback poured in, so Brandon bought a small camera, a first step toward solidifying his skills and cultivating a style. His curious wandering, through dirt trails to the dusty streets of Santa Fe and Albuquerque, initiated an interest in capturing light, color, architecture, and movement.
He knew he’d gotten something right when a friend — a talented portrait photographer — expressed envy over how easily Brandon managed to compose his shots, setting up a scene and framing it within seconds. It’s an adventure when you’re not in control of your subjects, he admits, acknowledging that, while sometimes you come up short, other times you capture something really remarkable.
That can be easier said than done, but for Brandon, exploring his own city of Albuquerque has been paramount — it’s the best way to learn the flow of a new place. “Buy a prime lens,” he urges. “And find some interesting architecture to capture. Strike up a conversation with a stranger and ask to snap their portrait.”
For Brandon, traversing the streets of his state is a frequent occurrence, and one that generally yields beautiful results. He’s in no hurry to move away.
Though he’s sure that if he did, New Mexico — or “the Land of Entrapment,” as his friends fondly call it — would always pull him back.
You can follow Brandon’s adventures in New Mexico on his instagram.