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Brandon Fiume: Focusing on Multiple Tracks

March 20, 2018

Brandon FiumeThere are many “ifs” to Brandon Fiume’s approach to photography. If he picked the right location, if the weather cooperates, if his camera settings are correct, and if the train is running on time, he may get another award-winning photo of freight or passenger train. Brandon's desire to learn something new helped him discover his creative side and “think outside the box…car.”

A knack for experimenting

The Junior Computer Science major always enjoyed problem solving. “When I was young I would open up a spreadsheet, enter values and try to make the numbers achieve a desired result,” remembers Brandon. “I really like to be challenged by techniques and technology, that’s why I decided to become a Computer Science major. I love setting an objective, designing a program to meet that objective and adapting to different outcomes.” 

Enrolling in Fine Arts 

Train passing station in the rainBrandon excelled in the Computer Science program, but started looking for an opportunity to spend time outside his major learning new things. During his freshman year he looked to the Fine Arts Department, in the School of Arts & Letters, and enrolled in a photography class. Brandon recalls, “I really wanted something different than my major. After a few classes, I realized that photography is the perfect hybrid of creativity and science. I was immediately hooked.”

The Fine Arts Department Chair, James Donovan, added, “This department is dedicated to providing students a way to express themselves and develop an understating of arts in culture. Undertaking unique challenges is essential in balancing one’s academic experience.” Brandon added, “I remember being a little nervous, but on day one the students and faculty in the Fine Arts Department made me feel very comfortable. I didn’t know if I could be creative, but I did know I wanted to learn more.”

Love for Trains 

A crowd views a vintage locomotive“I see trains as a combination of nostalgia and modern technology,” says Brandon. “These huge bodies of steel and iron move so gracefully though the western Pennsylvania landscape.”  Brandon decided that he would apply the photography techniques he learned in class to taking photos of trains. Professor of Fine Arts, Chuck Olson, helped focus Brandon’s ability. “It was clear early on that Brandon had a good eye in framing a shot,” remembers Olson, “but we encouraged him to have each image evoke an emotion.”

First place photo for Trains magazine. Reflections in passing trainBrandon’s passion for experimenting came into play. “I tend to work backwards,” says Brandon. “I see the photo in my head, and think about the steps I need to take to make that photo.” Brandon started photographing trains by adjusting his camera’s exposure settings. Doing this produces images that capture moments of stillness in a fast moving environment.

It didn’t take long before Brandon’s photos began drawing attention. One of his images won first place and was published in Trains Magazine. “The faculty in the Fine Arts Department were advocates for me, and told me to submit my work to various fairs and contests. I probably never would have the courage to submit it myself,” remembers Brandon. More accomplishments came and in the fall of 2017 Brandon had his photographs on display at the Saint Francis Library. Students and faculty noticed the attention to detail in Brandon’s prints and appreciated the hours of hard work that went into each image.

Making the most of his education

Black and White Train Cars“I’ll never understand why more students don’t take advantage of resources outside their major,” remarked Brandon. It’s fair to say Brandon is taking advantage of what campus has to offer. Brandon added CyberSecurity to his major, reads the liturgy during campus mass, holds the role of Grand Knight with the SFU Knights of Columbus, and is pursuing a minor in Fine Arts. “You’re only at Saint Francis for a short period of time. Not only are you here to prepare for a career, but you also here to be educated,” reflects Brandon. “I think everyone should take a class in the Fine Arts. You never know how it will fulfill you within your major and benefit you after you graduate and enter your career.”

Fine Arts