Humble Beginnings

The magazine Caoran was conceived by a group of Combat Veterans recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan over a round of beers in Austin, Texas back in 2005. In addition to having chosen to serve in combat, everyone in the group had also studied photography, cartography, and/or journalism and wanted to dedicate themselves to a life spent producing documentary art. They had already created a large body of work that they wish to share with the public but had had difficulty finding an outlet committed to documentary fine-art photography. Inspired by the opportunity they decided to form their own magazine and publish their work themselves. Today our artist-in-residence continues to explore and to produce fine art images even as Caoran works to train its members in exploration and photography at destinations all over the world while producing an annual magazine to showcase our members work.

The skills of Caoran’s photographers were born in college darkrooms, but honed on battlefields, and remote locations around the world.

The skills of Caoran’s photographers were born in college darkrooms, but honed on battlefields, and remote locations around the world.

After the War Photo Series

Caoran surged forward after the release of its war-time images moving into documentary street photography documenting London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Tokyo, Vancouver, and more as they released images on cities worldwide. Not limited to urban environments Caoran also moved into the National Parks producing work on Yosemite, Big Bend, and Olympic National Parks. In 2018 Caoran even led a photographic expedition off of marked trails into the wildest parts of Alaska producing images on little seen parts of the Arctic Circle.

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Documenting The Human Experience

From the very beginning Caoran has attempted to capture the human experience as sincerely and accurately as possible. As an artistic organization Caoran has long been mesmerized by the diversity of the lives we all choose to lead and deeply inspired by the passionate way so many of us choose to live.

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Sharing a Sense of Place

A location is nothing more than a spot on the earth, but a place is the entirety of the physical components, history, people, and social constructs of that location. Place is what makes Paris a city for young lovers, The West a land of adventure, and the Caribbean a great place for cocktails in a hammock.

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Staff Photographer

Michael David Brannan is our Artist-in-Residence and the only remaining founding member of Caoran. He is a life long outdoorsman who led his first backcountry expedition at the age of sixteen. He holds a BS in Environmental Geography with a biology minor and he considers himself first and foremost a geographer. While in college he studied both cartography and photography developing many of the skills he uses today for our magazine. In addition to his academic achievements he has lived out of his backpack in remote corners of the globe ranging from the Sahara to the Arctic. Michael has hiked and photographed segments of the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails, photographed dozens of urban environments, and is a decorated combat veteran.

A passionate humanist, his work typically reflects a sympathetic aesthetic casting his subjects, human, landscape, or animal in a light that reveals aspects of their character. He is typically a street-style photographer who seldom uses a tripod and who does not believe in staged shots for any reason. Common themes in his work revolve around isolation, the interaction between strong light & shadows, and the human experience. He lives in a suburb of Seattle with his wife and daughter enjoying all that the natural wonderland of the Pacific Northwest has to offer.