By Nancy Asmus
Steven Visneau, a photographer, musician and former Brookhaven College student, shared his story with journalism and photography students about his life from the time he was in their seats up to now.
Visneau, with shoulder-length hair and a beanie cap, flannel shirt, necklaces and tattoos, spoke about doing quality work, dealing with egos, self-promotion, staying current and being nice. He has photographed iconic images for Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney Co., Conde Nast, Dallas Observer, Bubble London and more. He also plays drums with his current band, J. Charles and the Trainrobbers.
He attended Brookhaven from 1986 to 1988, a time when he thought he might like to teach history. He said he was not sure about school and was simply going through the motions out of respect for his parents and higher education.
Visneau said it was a kind and passionate Brookhaven speech professor, Dr. Janice Wieland, who influenced him to shape his life differently. She asked Visneau to stay after class after he gave a presentation.
During the intense one-on-one session, as Visneau described it, Wieland told Visneau she enjoyed his presentation but advised him to take his education seriously.
Visneau landed a record deal and spent much of his 20s touring the globe with a punk band called Mess. He has performed as a drummer and vocalist for a number of bands with different styles – punk, indie rock and Americana.
While on a break from touring, Visneau stumbled into photography. A friend from Dallas called Visneau about assisting on a two-week photo shoot for the Spiegel catalog. The Spiegel shoot led to an interview for an assistant position with a local husband-and-wife photography team. He studied photography and assisted in shoots for eight years before heading off on his own. “I had a general interest in photography and [toyed] around with cameras but never considered it or making a dime off of it,” Visneau said.
He survived a shift in the photography industry when it moved from film to digital. He balanced his knowledge and techniques of working with film cameras to form a style with digital cameras.
Visneau added video production and art direction to his talents because clients need professionals who can contribute in a variety of ways. Either as a drummer or a photographer, he said he is not one to stop change or evolution.
Pete Freedman, co-founder of website Central Track, met Visneau when the two worked at the Dallas Observer. “He is really committed to the things that interest him,” Freedman said of Visneau’s photography. “He is interested in the world around him, so he will commit himself to shooting.”
The multi-talented Brookhaven alumnus said he understands why some artists feverishly self-promote but does not necessarily accept the change from a “we” climate to a “me” climate.
He relies on help from an agent, website and blog to promote his work. Visneau encouraged students to be selective of what work they display and to protect their images and stand behind their work, a key point he said he learned from Wieland.