As a kid growing up, Brandon Cawood loved superheroes. As he got older, he began to realize that real-life superheros were all around him.
The 30-year-old photographer decided to give firefighters, police officers, and emergency responders the kind of superhero treatment they deserved, by creating epic movie-poster style photos of those first on the scene. He called the series “Not All Wear Capes” to honor and celebrate the everyday heroes who keep us safe.
Brandon turned to social media to find his first subjects. A friend responded, and convinced her fiance — a firefighter — to participate in a photo shoot. Brandon shot each element of the image separately: the subject, the background, and all other elements, then used composite techniques to create the finished photo. While others at the firehouse teased the fireman during the shoot, calling him a supermodel, Brandon says their attitudes changed once they saw the final product. “I think secretly they wished they had been the person in the picture.”
“Not All Wear Capes” launched in December 2013 and immediately generated local buzz. Before long, Brandon’s work gained global recognition. He was contacted by newspapers and magazines from all over the world, and blogs featuring the project popped up in several different languages. He began receiving emails on a regular basis from people thanking him for doing the tribute.
Inspired by the subjects of his calendar, Brandon decided to use the project to give back. In his hometown of Dalton, Georgia, arts education is slowly being pulled out of schools. So Brandon turned his work into a calendar to raise money to promote the arts. Proceeds were given to the Creative Arts Guild of Dalton, which runs a scholarship program for children who can’t afford art classes. Through calendar sales and a gallery auction, he was able to raise enough money to provide scholarships for 100 kids. “Where I live,” Brandon says, “that’s huge.”
At the end of the day, Brandon hopes people take away a deeper appreciation for the people who protect us. “I think what makes a hero a hero is doing something selfless,” he says. “These people risk their lives to keep everybody else safe.”
Visit Brandon’s photostream to see more of his photography.
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