Meet the Creatives of Bristol: Neil James Brain

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In my Meet the Creatives of Bristol series, I scout the city for locals who work in a variety of creative fields. Whether they are at the early stage of their career, or are well-established, they represent the artistic city that Bristol is; vibrant, diverse and inspiring.


This time I caught up with Neil James Brain, a photographer.

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Neil is a born and bred Bristolian. Proud of his origins, he loves nothing more than photographing his beautiful city and the wildlife that inhabits the surrounding areas.


A self-taught photographer, he began his career as a hobbyist taking macro wildlife photos. Never leaving home without his macro lens, he knows the oppertunity to shoot tiny wildlife could arise at any moment.“I love bees and, as they are in abundance in Bristol, I was never short of subjects to capture.” Insects, however can be tricky participants Neil comments, saying “insects never follow a script. You can wait two hours trying to get the perfect shot and come away with nothing! Patience is essential in macro photography.”

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Whilst living in and around the Harbourside, he decided to venture into more serious photography. His surroundings inspired him to take up Landscape and Long Exposure photography.


“Clifton Suspension Bridge is my favourite subject and I enjoy capturing it during high tide either at night or during the day using neutral density filters.”

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Spontaneity is key to Neil’s success as a photographer. He never totally plans anything and a lot of his work he puts down to the luck of timing- in the right place at the right time, he is always flexible on a shoot.


His best locations are those that combine wildlife and landscape options. Thus, a typical days shoot sees Neil striking a balance between the two. Beginning with a morning of equipment preparation, before deciding where to go. He will work in all elements, year-round to get the perfect shot.

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“I use only Canon cameras and lenses. I use ultra wide angle lenses for landscapes, and telephoto or macro lenses for wildlife”.


The photographers that inspire Neil the most are; Joel Tjintjelaar and Karl Taylor, with Chris Packham and Charlie Hamilton James being his favourite wildlife photographers.

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A multi-dimensional photographer, he also works on events, and as Bristol has so many amazing festivals, he is never short of moments to photograph. His favourites being the Harbour Festival and Upfest.


“I was lucky enough to be present whilst my cousin, the legendary Jody Thomas (pictured above), created this masterpiece at Upfest 2016. His work really does add to the beauty of our city, along with countless other amazing graffiti artists which give Bristol its unique edge over other cities.”


What Neil loves the most about his job is making people happy with his pictures. “If I can brighten up someone’s day then it’s job done as far as I’m concerned. And if I can inspire someone to get out and take up photography themselves. That would make me the happiest man in Bristol!”


Neil James Brain can be found on socials at:


Twitter: @neiljamesb

Instagram: @neiljamesb

Facebook: Neil James Brain

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