Brendan Hoffman, Prime Collective
"Being a photographer requires understanding the world from someone else’s perspective, to see things through the eyes of another."
Brendan’s career began in Washington, DC, where he spent seven years covering American politics – from the White House to Congress to presidential campaigns – for clients such as TIME, The New York Times, and Getty Images.
In 2013 Brendan indulged his interest in the former Soviet Union and moved to Moscow in pursuit of a wider variety of stories. The revolution and subsequent war in Ukraine drew him in, and he is currently based in Kiev, where he covers the conflict and photographs editorial features in the region.
About / Biography
Brendan Hoffman (b. Albany, NY, USA, 1980) is a documentary photographer based in Ukraine, where his work reflects his interest in the ways economic and political structures shape modern society and the weight of history on everyday life. He divides his time between client work and personal projects.
His book-length project “The Beating of the Heart” is an exploration of contemporary middle class America in the context of free trade, the decline of blue-collar jobs, and economic polarization through the lens of a small town in Iowa. Past assignments have included covering the 2014 crisis in Ukraine for Getty Images, Newsweek, and The Washington Post; the 2012 US presidential campaign for TIME and the New York Times; and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti for Getty Images, the Wall Street Journal, and others.
From 2007 to 2013, he was based in Washington, DC, and frequently worked on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Brendan has received awards for his photography from Pictures of the Year International, American Photography 29, the White House News Photographers Association, and other organizations. He has worked in a variety of countries for both editorial and NGO clients, and is a co-founder of Prime.
Describe the moment you knew photography changed your life:
Photography has changed my life so many times and in so many ways, it’s hard to pick one. It’s an accumulation of small epiphanies that have gotten me where I am, combined with stubborn determination. Perhaps the most important moment was simply the instant when I decided that with enough hard work, I could be successful.
If you could sum up your work in one word or one sentence, what would that be?
Photography is a tool that helps me understand the world, but the world is unendingly complex. I’m drawn to stories that are morally ambiguous and confusing.
What is the most remarkable person, place or thing you have ever photographed and why?
Covering the protests in Kiev in the winter 2013-14 was utterly incredible. Visually, it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen or will probably ever see again. The smoke, fire, passion, snow, cold, and clothing, combined with the attention of the world and ultimately tragedy, resulted in the most unique pictures of my life.
Talk to us about your bucket list... what is on the top of that list of things to photograph?
I spent years in Washington and photographed the president countless times, but I never had the opportunity for a posed portrait of him. I’d like to do that; the same goes for Vladimir Putin. Having worked quite a lot in Russia, I love the country’s Far East. I’d like to go to Magadan and Kamchatka, which to me represent the edge of the world.
If you had not become a photographer, what might you be today?
I’ve spent time around doctors and nurses, and their impact on the world is amazing. I think something in the health field would be interesting and rewarding.
Give us your thoughts about the Global Imaging Ambassadors programme?
Being partnered with Sony is really special. Working as a photographer can sometimes be a lonely road, so it’s wonderful to have the support of a company like Sony that encourages photographers making important work and gives them the tools to do so.
Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA
Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA
13” Macbook Pro