A Touch of Irony

Less may be more, but Mike Brannon’s reach as an artist is expanding – and creative enthusiasts everywhere are the better for it.

By: Erin O’Brien

Mike Brannon’s motto is “less is more.” This is appropriate to his style as both a lighting designer and a musician. However, take a look at his résumé, and you’ll see that this motto is also a bit ironic.

The owner of Lightlink Lighting has won 20 ADEX Awards for Design Excellence since 2016 alone, and his designs are frequent “Best Of” product selections in publications like Design Journal and EnLIGHTenment. Since he launched the business 20 years ago, his work has also been featured in Organic Spa, Natural Home, Apartment Therapy, Houzz and many more media outlets, as well as at AIA, ASID, IIDA and TEDx events in both San Antonio and Austin. And this is to say nothing of his music career (hint: he’s worked with people you’ve heard of).

And now, to even further expand his résumé, Brannon also recently announced a new venture: Zenlight Photography. Brannon isn’t a stranger to the camera, as he’s been photographing his lighting designs for the past 14 years out of necessity. However, as he was photographing some of his latest pieces last fall, an all-new inspiration struck.

“When I was shooting the Triangulation and Hypercube lights last year, I was making an effort to focus on and get the best out of them, and other aspects of the shots started to speak to me,” Brannon said. “I was doing a lot of setup and staging, and I was getting some really cool unexpected effects. I started thinking about it more, and I got really interested the possibility of shooting other types of subjects.”

Some of these subjects include art, architecture, fashion, lifestyle, nature and travel. It’s been an organic change for Brannon – that is, a natural extension of the “eye” that’s served him so well as a designer. Brannon’s a man of many interests, but everything he does features his signature minimalist style – deemed “Zen/industrial” by the design press. His photography is no exception.

“I take a Zen-like approach to photography, as well,” he said. “I tend to see the quality and intensity of light almost before I see a given subject. I think having shot the lighting designs for so many years has given me a unique slant on photography.”

Part of this slant involves incorporating less conventional materials and effects into his shots (a favorite approach of his in general, as he’s made lights out of every unexpected source from scrap metal to old CD racks). He’s currently experimenting with LED fiber-optic light engines, dichroic film as gels, perforated metal sheets and a full-color laser projector, among other things. So far, the results are very intriguing – and he’s just getting started.

Photography is a whole new ballgame, but as a true artist, Brannon is enjoying the creative process. “You tend to learn a lot about yourself as you explore a new art form,” Brannon said. “In my case, the unique effects of light and the simplicity of form always get my attention. Less really is more.”

Well, less might be more from a design standpoint. But when it comes to a seasoned artist expanding his craft and creating exciting new work – I’d say “more” isn’t such a bad thing.

To learn more about Zenlight Photography, visit www.500px.com/guitarspeak or contact Mike Brannon at 210-414-3695.

Photos courtesy of Zenlight Photography