A casual search for new wallpaper on Flickr gave Bruce Franklin an idea.
Why don’t I do this myself?
What started with Franklin taking a point-and-shoot camera to Disney World morphed into a career in professional photography for the Floridian, who discovered early on that he has a unique perspective.
He recalls a little girl asking her mother at the Disney park, “Mommy, what is that man taking a picture of?”
“As a photographer, you see things in a different light,” he says.
Self-taught, Franklin spent his early years in tabloid photography, where he was a regular part of the paparazzi outside of the David Letterman Theater in New York, where Matt Damon made it easy to snap a pic, Ellen DeGeneres not so much. He later dabbled in travel and stock photography, but neither was overly fulfilling.
But once Franklin started shooting nature, his creative juices percolated. His favorite subjects are animals — a silverback gorilla, colorful macaws, rhinos and elephants, and his most famous photo to date, a majestic lion. Hummingbirds and golden pheasants continue to be elusive, but embracing patience plays into Franklin’s craft. Animals are on their own schedule, he notes. They don’t pose. Often he spends hours seeking to capture something special.
“You don’t know what animals are going to do,” he says. “I love making that contact with them. It’s all about making a visual connection. Even some shots when they’re not looking at you, there’s an emotional connection that they’re expressing.”
Much like celebrities, Franklin has learned to leave animals alone, let them mind their own business, and it’s easier to get the shot you’re looking for.
A recent trip to Yellowstone Park was a dream. Joining friends in an RV from his Long Island home, he ran into springtime snow on many of the mountains that left some routes closed. But he was able to get up close with elk and bison.
“I was 6 feet away from bison looking at them in the eye,” he says. “You’ve got everything in Yellowstone and it’s so peaceful and quiet.”
Franklin initially sold his work as framed acrylic prints and later moved to canvas before discovering metal. Now he follows a process called dye-sublimation that uses a special printer and a heat press to infuse an image onto an aluminum sheet. The result is eye-catching, precise imagery that pops.
“This gives the pictures a whole different look and people love them,” says Franklin, whose images are meant to entertain.
Franklin dreamed of being an actor growing up, and in addition to commercials landed bit roles in films alongside Burt Reynolds, Johnny Depp and Al Pacino. But he’s found he prefers being behind the camera instead of in front of it. “When I’ve got the camera in my hands, I’m in control,” he says. “I’m the creative one.”
Bucket list trips include Thailand and Iceland, though many of his favorite shots are close to home, where he’s apt to pull over on the side of a road in search of a new subject.
Franklin exhibits his works in roughly 15 shows a year in the northeast and adores Rose Squared Art Shows thanks to the ease of setup, lovely locations and friendly customers. Find his booth in 2023 at the Brookdale Park shows in the spring (June 17-18) and fall (Oct. 21-22) and at Anderson Park (Sept. 23-24).