I am extremely honored to be in the Spring issue of The Carolina Equestrian Magazine.
SOME STORIES ARE WRITTEN WITH PAINT, NOT WORDS.
It is this sentiment that drives William Branson III to create his incredibly lifelike portraits of people and families.
“I think of myself as a storyteller,” Branson said. “I have the opportunity to look into the hearts and minds of my subjects and the responsibility to portray them for all time with the grace and dignity they deserve as I tell their stories.”
Branson’s works do indeed tell stories; not just of the individuals and families he captures with camera and portrait, but of a man who is deeply passionate about his work. Each portrait is created with fine details; brides glow with happiness; children shine with innocence; families gather together in harmony and equestrians are completely in their element. It all begins with a simple question: “what’s your story?”
His process begins with a consultation, whether in person at his studio, or over the phone.
“I use the consultation to begin ‘writing’ their story and create a world around them,” Branson said. “It all begins with this sit-down that results in an artful collaboration; that [collaboration] flows through the photograph to the portrait.”
One example is on the first page of his website. At first glance, the portrait is of a woman and girl, in beautiful dresses. But the story of the mother and daughter is much greater.
Branson said when the mother came in for her consultation, she stated a desire for a bridal portrait. The mother was remarrying, and through the consultation he discovered that her daughter was going to be the flower girl. Before meeting her fiancé, mother and daughter had been alone for quite some time. As the mother talked, Branson had a vision: a portrait of them together with the mother showing her love for her child, both in their wedding attire. Branson added one more touch; he posed the mother’s left hand to show off her engagement ring; a symbol of this new person coming into their lives.
“When I think about how this portrait turned out, I am pleased how it tells the story of the mother and daughter at that time in their life,” Branson said. “And one day, when her mother is gone, just think what that portrait will mean to the daughter.”
In a world where most people use phones to take pictures, Branson sees his work as a way to preserve the present for the future.
We are all part of a fast moving society,” he said. “We are seeing a lost generation. Phones crash. Hard drives crash. And few people print out their pictures. Watching my children grow up so quickly, I saw how important portraiture is. When I think about it, because of what I do, people will know their ancestry; generations will see the joy and the growth of their families.”
Art has always been a passion for Branson, although at one time he thought about becoming a dentist. After realizing that was not his path, he began working solely toward an art career. As a teenager, Branson would paint abstracts for the teenager rooms at the local country clubs. From there, he went to Louisburg Junior College and immersed himself in photography; learning structure, lighting, posing and more. What he learned during those years, according to Branson, evolved into his paintings.
All Branson’s works are commissions, and he has worked with people all over the world; from South Africa and Japan, to the United States. He is in such demand that clients will fly him out to meet with them, as well as fly to N.C. to meet him. While Branson works with several types of mediums, oil is his favorite. After the initial consultation, he will schedule a portrait session, taking multiple reference images, as he creates the right angle and feel. From those, Branson turns digital photos into works of painted art, a process that can take six months or more, depending on the scope of the project. With classical music providing the mood in his studio, Branson will create a masterpiece he is proud of, and he knows his clients will love as well.
Prices and sizes vary based on the subject and medium, but prices start at $4400 and go up from there. Branson also provides framing at an additional cost. Each frame is designed by him to compliment the canvas.
From the first meeting to the portrait being crated and shipped to its new owner, Branson wants nothing more than to tell a story, and to make sure his clients do not have regrets.
“If I could change anything, it would be that my clients would have no regrets,” he said. “I’ve heard clients say they wish they had put themselves in the portrait. Or they wish they had done it earlier. Procrastination is easy, but children never get younger. I always ask people: “If your walls could talk, what would they say? Are they silent? Or, would they tell your story?”
With so many stories to tell, and still more yet undiscovered, Branson will be telling stories for years to come.