From cancer to behind a camera lens

From cancer to behind a camera lens

After the fear of losing his life to cancer, Franklin resident JB Brookman decided he didn’t want to waste anymore time.

Twelve years ago, life seemed typical after getting married and starting his life with his new family. Nine months after they exchanged vows, the blowback of Brookman’s cancer diagnosis hit them hard.

“I would say the number one thing that gripped my emotions when I had to face this is what do I have that my wife can remember me by,” he said. “I could be gone, and so I think that’s when photography really struck me. We are creating art and printing it on materials that will last and be passed down through generations.”

Once Brookman received a clean bill of health, then only to face another bout of cancer later, he started taking the photographic art form seriously. While living in Los Angeles, he said he felt like his career started as a trial by fire.

His first large shoot starred Lamar Odom, a former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star and Kardashian heart throb.

“I am on the top of this skyscraper that has a pool on top and, I am waiting for him,” he said. “I am on the roof, and I don’t know what I am doing. But I did everything I could to get these shots. I photographed him three days before they were in the finals.”

The following two weeks, he found himself in recording artist Brandy’s living room. Two years later, he found himself on the concert circuit, shooting bands like U2.

“It was while I was in that photo pit that I started to tear up a bit,” he said. “Because right then, I was doing what I was so passionate about.”

His photograph subjects changed, though, after he started doing some shoots for friends, particularly their high school seniors who needed their portraits taken. It was then he figured out celebrity photography wasn’t what he wanted to continue doing.

“That life became different, because in some ways it’s hollow, sad and meaningless,” he said. “But encouraging kids and celebrating their lives had more of a purpose.”

After moving to Franklin a year and a half ago, he hopes to replicate the same type of portrait photography, offering stylish boutique clothing for sessions and airbrushed makeup with shoots. He still occasionally shoots artists like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran along with different magazines for concert photography.

“I believe you can change lives through this experience,” he said. “You see their self-esteem rise through the experience, and if you had to ask what my gift is, I consider it pulling the spark out of a person.

“We are created with something that makes us beautiful, and I want to find the essence of who they are and create an image that pulls that out.”

To learn more about Brookman’s photography packages, visit

Emily West covers Franklin for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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