Valencia photographer recalls his journey

by Gilbert Bernal 563 views0

Seventeen years ago Brandon Bernier and his Canon 7D burst onto the track to capture the Long Beach Grand Prix. Now at 21-years-old, he revisited the course with sharper developed skills and up to date equipment.

14-year-old Brandon at the LBGP

Bernier, a student filmmaker from Valencia, has been taking pictures and producing video way before college.

He managed to build an extensive track record ranging from camera operator to editor. That’s because he’s been at it while he was a sophomore at Valencia High.

In 2010, at age fourteen, Bernier got an opportunity most budding photographers could only dream of. Bernier accessed a press vest and hit the track. He was nervous, excited and upset.

“I wasn’t supposed to be there, I got to take pics for 30 minutes. I was mad because I had the wrong lens,” Bernier said.

Indi car on the way out from the pits

The Grand Experience

For Brandon, this year’s Grand Prix was more enjoyable than previous years.

The Grand Prix three-day, annual event was filled with trials, practices and competitions between world-wide, renown drivers.

“Back then I shot more pictures. This time I shot video so it’s difficult to compare but I can definitely see how I have grown over the years,” Bernier stated.

Building Brandon

Bernier has been focused on working with cameras for half his life. Since age 11, he has had his eye on being a professional camera operator. At an age most kids want a PlayStation, he was working and saving for a camera. He acquired his first camera in the sixth grade, a point and shoot Sony DSC-T300. By seventh grade, he received a Canon G10, which was a step up from the Sony, but was still considered consumer equipment.  Two years later, Brandon saved enough money and purchased his first professional camera, the Canon 7D.

” I used to mow my grandparent’s lawns and I used to get twenty dollars a week for allowances for trash, dogs, dishes, room, etc.,” Bernier said.

These days nothing has changed for the hard working photographer. Bernier works at the equipment room at COC while attending classes and still has time for freelance work. Last year he received an Emmy for his participation in the show Shark Tank.

Still shot from Brandon’s footage

The Brakes

The Grand Prix was packed with excitement at every turn and gave no brakes in between. Photographers and cameras staked out along the track, geared to grab what pictures they could. As I followed Bernier along the course and watched him work, my lens changed angles. The race may have been enormous and grand but through smoke one story broke out among the winners.