Brian Friedman shoots for the stars
Brian Friedman ’98 remembers suddenly understanding the magnitude of his career: He was photographing Lady Gaga at an event in Madison Square Garden in 2011 and handed her an album of photos he had taken of her at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas earlier in the year. They looked through the album together, and she said she would cherish it forever.
Since then, he has photographed a number of events, including 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief, which featured some of music’s biggest stars.
It’s been a wild ride. “It’s still surreal to me,” Friedman says. “I’m speechless about all of it.”
Friedman says Binghamton University has a lot to do with his success. Being vice president for University programming and being involved in the Harpur Jazz Project gave him experience with musical celebrities. But the single greatest influence on his career was then-University photographer Evangelos “Van” Dousmanis, who taught Friedman to take advantage of the access he had to things around him.
“If it weren’t for Van, I would not be a professional photographer,” Friedman says. “He taught me things that I will never forget.”
Since his days developing photos in Binghamton’s darkroom, Friedman has worked with a number of celebrities. His first big gig — touring with jazz drummer Roy Haynes — helped reassure him of his passion for photography.
“I was 21, and I’m traveling with a jazz legend around the country,” Friedman remembers. “I was not hired to take his photos, I was hired to be his road manager. But I turned that into an opportunity to take pictures because I had the access.”
After graduating, Friedman spent nine years at a comedy management firm that worked with stars including comedians Ray Romano and Brian Regan. While photography had been a side job, he finally committed to his dream of being a freelance photographer in 2007. He began shooting intimate weddings in New York City. He shot then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama at his fundraisers for his campaign. But the best was yet to come. Friedman’s love of music and photography merged in 2011 when he was chosen to photograph the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas.
“I just remember looking up and closing my eyes and being, like, ‘You’re here. This is it,’” he says.
Visit Brian’s website at b-freed.com