Even if you don’t know who Instagram star Brandon Woelfel is, you’ve likely seen his work. Set in striking sunset tones of gold, red, and blue, his images are imaginative and inspiring.
To state it simply, Brandon Woelfel photography is defined by his storytelling style—a whimsical atmosphere created with magical editing.
If you want the inside scoop on his shooting techniques, editing tips, and the equipment he uses to capture the “Brandon glamour shot” he’s known for, you’re in luck. He’s giving away all his secrets in a new Skillshare Original class, and we’re dishing out some of the highlights here.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
How to shoot like Brandon Woelfel
How to edit photos like Brandon Woelfel
How he got started as a freelance photographer
What kind of equipment he uses, including cameras, lenses, and props
All About Brandon Woelfel
Believe it or not, Brandon Woelfel never intended to become a photographer. He actually went to the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan to study computer art. While he was learning 2D and 3D animation, he started doing photography as a hobby—shooting in his room and backyard and using friends as models.
As he continued shooting, he honed his skills and paid attention to what his audience liked seeing. By monitoring what was resonating, he built an audience of 2.8 million Instagram followers.
“As I was starting out as a freelance photographer, Instagram definitely helped with getting connections and showing my work to a larger audience but also growing my work because it was something I was really consistent with,” he says in his Skillshare class.
Now, he’s a freelance photographer based in New York. His client base includes Buzzfeed, Apple, Nikon, and Urban Outfitters. He’s also published photography books, and you can find curated Brandon Woelfel photography in his books, Luminescence and Ultraviolet.
Brandon Woelfel Portrait Photography
As he’s built his career, Woelfel has become known especially for his portrait photography. Most of his photos feature a singular subject (occasionally, a couple) posed in front of a landscape and surrounded by dramatic lighting.
However, much of his signature style is incorporated during post-production. “In my photos, I like to play a lot with editing to create a magical, whimsical final effect,” he says.
Brandon Woelfel’s Camera Equipment and Editing Techniques
If you want to shoot like Brandon Woelfel, you probably want to know what’s in his camera bag and what tips and tricks he uses to achieve the final look of his images. Let’s dig into the answers to some of the most common questions about his gear and creative process.
What Camera Does Brandon Woelfel Use?
He uses Nikon cameras, specifically the Nikon D850 DSLR digital camera or the Nikon Z7.
What Lens Does Brandon Woelfel Use?
We have that answer too: It’s the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G lens. Like any photographer, he uses lighting with equipment like tripods, ring lights, and studio lights.
Can I Learn How to Shoot Like Brandon Woelfel?
Of course you can—with practice. To capture his whimsical vision, you need to shoot creatively to capture light and movement. He’ll bend and manipulate light through different props, reflecting light through prisms and bouncing light off disco balls or CDs.
Speaking of props, those are something that he always has plenty of onhand. He’s used a combination of bright, colorful props like a fiber optic dance whip, stained glass, and reflective props like mirrors and disco balls. He’s even incorporated eccentric props like projectors that shine different patterns or atmosphere aerosols that create smoke effects. You’ll also see eyeglasses featured often in his work.
When Woelfel’s on location, he uses a continuous shutter to capture action in multiple bursts. He also advises looking for locations that have layers of light in the background and foreground.
What About Editing? How to Edit Photos Like Brandon Woelfel
The real magic behind Brandon Woelfel’s show-stopping photos happens during the editing process. So if you want to make your photos pop, you need to edit like Brandon Woelfel.
“I like to view an image as a painting—starting from scratch, really diving into those editing techniques, and pulling everything we can out of just one single image,” he says.
Brandon Woelfel editing often means tweaking contrast, temperature, and colors. For a nighttime shot, he might add a blue tint or shadows. For a daytime shot, he may not do as many corrections. Regardless of what kind of photo he’s working with, Woelfel will edit and crop the photo to get the image more focused on the subject. He often plays with hue saturation and luminance layers to make photos brighter or darker.
To understand the technical side of how to edit like Brandon Woelfel, Photoshop is a necessity. He often uses Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop, but he will also use collage apps like Collageable and Image Blender.
Where to Find More Brandon Woelfel
With a large Instagram following, it’s safe to say that Brandon Woelfel maintains an active presence on that platform. He also has plenty of tips for other photographers who want to make a name for themselves on Instagram, such as tagging anyone involved in the shoot—including the stylist, makeup artist, and model and even tagging the location.
In addition to his finished photos, he likes to share other content like before-and-after shots or behind-the-scenes footage, which he says helps his audience connect with him even more.
Finally, while he places the bulk of his focus on the photo, he also loves using the Instagram captions to build stronger bonds. “Captioning a photo along with some kind of quote or something personal is definitely something that you can use to connect with your audience,” he says. “And it’s almost viewed as like a shared narrative.”
Wondering where else you can follow his photography journey? Here are other platforms and resources where you can keep up with him:
Create Whimsical Photos for Instagram!
Instagram-Worthy Photography: Shoot, Edit, and Share with Brandon Woelfel.