Cotton's Interview With A Photographer: Briana Malmquist

Cotton's Interview With A Photographer: Briana Malmquist

Rugged horseback riding through the mountains. How does that sound for a photographers lifestyle? Tune in for our latest interview with a photographer featuring the talented Briana Skinner!

Cotton Carrier: Where do you call home?
Briana Malmquist: I am from Ronan, Montana and although I aspire to move back to “Big Sky Country” someday, for now I call the state of Washington home.
How long have you taken photographs for unprofessionally and professionally?
I have always taken photos. As a little girl I would use our family’s 35mm film camera to take truly terrible photos of our animals any chance I got – it was seriously a miracle if the whole critter was in the frame! In high school I became enamored with portrait photography and I always had a little Canon point and shoot with me and even talked some of my friends into letting me take their senior photos. While I was never without a camera, I didn’t get my first DSLR until 2015 and just a few months later I started my photography business where I specialized in high school seniors.
Fast forward a few years and now photographing horses and the western lifestyle is my bread and butter as far as photography goes. I get to work with some fabulous companies, meet wonderful people and spend as much time as possible covered in horse hair.
CC: How would you define your style as a photographer?
B Malmquist: I would define my style as true-to-life. I love vivid colors, I love the color green and I love bright photos. I love capturing both the real and candid moments as well as the more posed images because, let’s face it, not every candid moment is a great one!
CC: Have you ever gone to photography school?
B Malmquist: I have not. I am 100% self taught through trial, error, and a whole lotta practice.
CC: Where is your favorite place or thing to shoot?
Horses and adventures in the wilderness. I love getting to take my horses on wilderness adventures and take in a world that is far bigger than myself and the world I generally live in. The ride is paramount but having the means to capture the experience on camera is such a blessing.

CC: What Camera(s) / Lenses do you use?
B Malmquist: I am not a gear junkie… my list is short!
I shoot on a Canon 6D and I use the 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, and 70-200 2.8.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get “The Shot”?
I’m a ‘safety-first’ kind of person by nature and then add in the fact that I’m an avid rider and equine photographer… I try to keep my crazy tucked in. I take my camera with me on all my horse adventures and I think it’s crazy enough to pack it miles into the wilderness, across rivers and up mountains, do I really need to add to that?
CC: Who has inspired you as a photographer?
B Malmquist: Oh gosh. How extensive of a list am I allowed to share? I’ll keep it short and just share two.
Jillian Lukiwski (@thenoisyplume) comes to mind first and foremost because not only does she tell such amazing stories through both her photos and her writing but her self-portrait skills are unparalleled. Her creativity seems to have no bounds, she’s truly inspiring.
Meg Loeks (@meg_nlo) is not an equine or western photographer nor does not photograph in the same style as me but I have followed her on Instagram for YEARS and am captivated by her photography. Her use of light is astounding, as is her composition and eye for framing an image. Plus her kids and critters are pretty dang cute!

CC: What advice would you tell an aspiring photographer?
B Malmquist: Do it. As in, get out there and practice. If you want to be a photographer, be a photographer. Create what makes you happy, don’t be afraid to experiment until you find out what that is. And after that, don’t be afraid to pivot (yes, that’s a Friends reference) if you find something else that makes you happy.
Also, beware of social media. Don’t measure your worth or your talent based on ‘likes’ or followers. I personally love social media and love connecting with people I otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to connect with, but there are times I have to remind myself that it is not a measuring stick.
CC: Can you share a photographic resource you personally use?
B Malmquist: Honestly… Instagram. I use Instagram for everything from building relationships to finding inspiration to picking people’s brains when I have questions. It’s such a great tool!

CC: How has photography shaped your day to day?
B Malmquist: I’m always thinking about photography. I see moments in pictures, I swoon over pretty light and feel a little sick if I don’t have my camera with me to capture it, and I can’t wait to get home from my day job to pick up my camera and see where it takes me.
CC: Where has photography taken you, and made you experience?
B Malmquist: Photography helped give me my wings back. Quite a few years ago I witnessed a terrible horse wreck that left my confidence shattered. It took me years to win back some of that confidence with horses but once I picked up my first DSLR and started learning how to use it, I knew I wanted to photograph my horse and our adventures in places other than our own pasture. Since then, I have hauled all over Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Wyoming, riding in some of the most beautiful areas I never knew existed and capturing it with my camera along the way.
CC: Any exciting photographic events in coming up you’d like to share?
B Malmquist: I have some exciting rides planned still this Summer! I hate to share too early since plans can change based on so many things out of our control (think weather in the mountains), but my fingers are crossed that everything pans out and we get some good saddle time paired with some awesome images!