If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, New York photographer Brandon Woelfel should feel highly flattered indeed. His beautifully vibrant “luminescent” style, rich in pinks and light blues, is so distinctive and instantly recognizable that someone developed a Lightroom preset just so you can make your photos shimmer like Brandon’s.
Born and based in Long Island, Woelfel attended School of Visual Arts to study computer graphics. After graduating, he became enraptured with the style of popular Instagram photographers.
After he perfected his own signature style—someone once told him, “your photos all look different but they somehow go together”—word spread about his talent to where he currently has over 1.5 million people following him on Instagram and over a quarter-million on Twitter. He says his sudden fame “still does not feel real.” And he’s only 23!
But it’s not only his magical use of lighting and color—there’s a unique intimacy to his portraiture. The viewer feels like an interloper at a nighttime private beach party of really cool people under a rainbow of fireworks. Soft-spoken, Brandon is such an expert at putting his subjects at ease that he becomes close friends with many of them and repeatedly uses these new friends in new shoots.
But behind his unforgettably pretty images lies a higher purpose: “Photography and art have a huge impact on the world,” Brandon says. “Communicating across various cultures, we’re able to break through language barriers and share our experiences through images. I think it’s important to note that if you truly love what you do, then achievements will follow. Working every day to realize that you can always improve will keep you ahead of the game.”
His first book, Luminescence, was published in 2017 by Thought Catalog. Spanning over 200 gorgeous full-color pages, it brings extra immediacy and texture to the famous style everyone’s grown to know and love on Instagram.
Brandon Woelfel’s current goal is to “have one of my photos on a billboard somewhere in a big city.”