David Walter Banks and Kendrick Brinson strike their @brinsonbanksing trademark pose at Glacier National Park. Photo courtesy Kendrick Brinson
They are a couple you can’t help but love to watch. He, rugged, deep and tattooed. She, delicate next to him, sensitive, with gorgeous red hair, fair skin and graceful limbs. On Instagram they let you peek into their lives, their work and their relationship in a seductively personal way. They are David Walter Banks and Kendrick Brinson. They are not only adorably in love, but they are also incredible editorial and lifestyle photographers based in Los Angeles.
Married since 2012, they manage three Instagram accounts: one for each of them and one for @brinsonbanks, which covers them as a hirable duo. Combined, those accounts have 123,600 followers and tons of engagement. The posts come regularly, specifically spearheaded by Brinson, who manages her page, @kendrickbrinson, and the combined page. She nudges her husband, who is not as into social media as she is, to post regularly on @davidwalterbanks as a form of marketing for their freelance business.
And it works. They are busy, globetroting for clients such as National Geographic, The New York Times, Twitter and more.
But what’s it like to have a life and marriage on display? What boundaries or conversations take place?
A recent post by Brinson reads: “Check into hotel in Tucson. Drop bags. Put on bathing suits for the pool. No! Wait! C’mere! The light in this bathroom is amaaaaazing. Stand there. (This is what it’s like to be close to me. Deal with it.) Thanks for always obliging @davidwalterbanks 🌟 🌟 🌟 (go check out his work!).”
Posted is a stunning golden-lit photograph of a shirtless David Walter Banks in the shower. Hundreds of red heart “likes” and flame emojis are within the comments.
“For photography, we both have an understanding that we are always asking people to pose for us, in sometimes uncomfortable situations,” Brinson said in a recent phone conversation. “So we have to pose for each other too. It’s like an unspoken law,” she laughs.
There are no hard and fast rules in the relationship about what they post about each other. If there are questions, they come up in the moment. For Brinson, she is more sensitive about physical appearance and making sure that any photographs of her wouldn’t be offensive, say, if her parents saw them. Banks is more sensitive to video and audio of himself, Brinson says.
Brinson says she is always aware of how her posts might affect others.
She’s currently working on a personal project about Jenkins County, Georgia, where her family’s farm is located, and she writes about her feelings of the process. “I’m having to balance my family because they’re very private, and I want to make sure they’re comfortable with it, but it’s not my natural way on social media.”
In fact, that seems to be the cardinal rule regarding her social media presence. She won’t speak negatively of anyone.
“I’m not going to tell you that the actress I just photographed was really rude to me,” Brinson said. “I might tell you over coffee, but I’m not going to put that on social media because I feel like anyone I photograph, there’s a trust involved.”
As a result, she rarely has negativity appear in the comments of her IG page. And she’s never had a friend or family member tell her that she’s crossed a boundary with them in her posts.
Though Brinson has a keen awareness of other people’s boundaries, that doesn’t preclude her from getting real about herself and sharing personal struggles she faces, be they career musings on the creative process or her back pain. She is particularly interested in helping up-and-coming photographers by sharing her and her husband’s own behind-the-scenes techniques. A large part of their work involves celebrity portraiture, but their background is in newspapers, so they have the ability to work quickly and scrappily.
There have been important lessons learned in building a strong social media presence. Brinson posted her location while working along the Mexican border for The New York Times. Someone saw the post and called the Border Patrol to complain that their outlet had been denied access to the same subject. She’s now more careful about how and when she posts details about her location.
“I often record stuff while traveling and share it later,” Brinson said. “I don’t want to be that girl at the restaurant posting from the restaurant. I want to be present, first of all, but I also don’t want people to know where I am every second, which is a normal woman safety thing.”
The couple also experienced embarrassment when their trademark pose, #brinsonbanksing, which began as lighthearted fun, went viral. CNN, Buzzfeed and other outlets posted photographs of them doing their trademark pose (kissing while Banks holds Brinson up in the air on his hip) in locations around the world. But the blushing and plethora of cute couple photographs landed them two-week-long jobs with Samsung, in which they were paid to travel and make photographs of themselves for marketing Samsung’s mobile camera.
This is social media. It’s more than a place to share your work, it’s also a place to share your personal life. And as scary as that is for some, when done with class and sensitivity it can lead to more friendships, more interaction and more work. What apears through the pages of the Brinson Banks accounts is a cascade of color, creativity and visual treasures from all aspects of their lives. It’s more than just bolstering their own careers; the couple add value to their followers’ lives, with inspiration, ideas and thought. And, yes, with a little bit of sexy too. ■
Autumn Payne is an independent visual journalist based in Sacramento, Calif. She can be reached at autumnpayne.com. She would like to hear your stories about work/life balance.