“There’s always a new insight… some mysterious layer to peel back; as if there is a backstage pass to the world. Just like when I was a shy teen, photography is a license to immerse myself into a culture, work-life, or individuals who ignite my curiosity.”
Graphis Master Bruce DeBoer began his career in 1980 in Boston after graduating from RIT. He’s led a large photography department at Hallmark Cards, worked as an account executive at an ad agency in Chicago, and been a director of marketing for a design partnership. Bruce has been a nationally recognized still photographer for 25 years, and now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2011, he began shooting and directing video, and in 2015 started a production company, Oryx Creatives, in addition to his still photography studio, DeBoer Works LLC. Bruce’s name has appeared on many national and regional Addy Awards, One Show Awards, B&W Spider Awards, and a NY Festival Gold, and he has been a National Kelly Award finalist. Bruce has been published numerous times in Communication Arts, Creativity, Ad Age, and Adweek, as well as Graphis, Print, and AIGA design and photo annuals. He was featured in Graphis Journal issue 312 and in Lurzer’s Archive as one of their “200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide” for the last eight years. His proudest achievements are staying relevant and excited about being a photographer for 35 years, his body of work, and his drive to bring his best to each and every project.
Here’s a snippet from Bruce DeBour’s interview:
What inspired or motivated you to start your career?
Inspiration and motivation have evolved over my career. I’ve been taking pictures since 1970 at age 12. I liked the magic of it; the science of the materials and processes engaged me like nothing else at the time. I was a shy teen, so shooting photos allowed me a cover to get involved with my peers. I started entering shows as a teenager. As I gained attention, it motivated me to continue improving. That hasn’t stopped. Processes can be mastered, but the “art” of it is elusive. A successful photograph will stir emotions with as little static as photographers can manage during visual communication. This can take a lifetime to master. Those photographers who find a way to tell a story through viewers’ experiences, giving them something with which they can relate to, always inspire me.
What do you like best about photography?
If I’m honest with myself, I wouldn’t be a photographer if I hadn’t gotten accolades early and often. It doesn’t get old even 40 years later. But beyond ego gratification is the challenge to learn something new; there’s always a new insight, a viewpoint, a subject, a technique, a visual story, some mysterious layer to peel back; as if there is a backstage pass to the world. Just like when I was a shy teen, photography is a license to immerse myself into a culture, work-life, or individuals who ignite my curiosity.
What advice would you give to students starting out today?
If someone wants a career in commercial photography, I’d suggest this: study photography and art history to learn aesthetics. Also, learn as much as you can about the digital side of photography, video, and digital marketing. The creative destruction of our industry is only going to pick up speed and, like it or not, today’s students are going to have to keep up. Better yet, know enough to be disruptive. There won’t be enough time to work on everything for 10,000 hours, so they may have to pick something that will survive the changes.
How do you define success?
Be content with your life and be in a good position to make more art. Create a situation where your art isn’t hindered by circumstances.
To read Bruce DeBoer’s entire QA, order Graphis Journal #374 at Graphis.com.