Braun eventually became disillusioned with photographing the "design garbage," as he called it, coming from the commercial arena and many other regional residential builders. Eventually, the usually mild-mannered Braun firmly told the clients knocking at his door, "I'll look at your building, and if I'm in sympathy with it, I'll photograph it." This struggle with his own artistic values eventually led Braun to lay aside the financial constraints of supporting a family of seven and make a transition into a new world of nature photography.
Since the early 1970s, Braun has used his macro lens to delve into the micro-world of raindrops and flower petals, and capture with the telephoto lens the tranquil beauty of the world's forests and oceans. He also has led students on photographic expeditions into Peru, New Zealand, Kenya, China, Alaska, and the American west. And out of these explorations into nature have emerged six books: "Living Water," "Tideline," "Exploring Pacific Coast Tidepools," "Grand Canyon of the Living Colorado," "Our San Francisco," and "Portrait of San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area."
But today, after winning many awards and exhibiting his work in museums around the United States, Braun has almost come full-circle, bringing his outdoor world into public buildings and hospitals by marketing prints of his work to art consultants and others. And on weekends, as he has done for the past 20 years, Braun teaches—guiding photography students along the coastal white sandy beaches and rocky cliffs of the Marin headlands through the Point Reyes Field Seminar Program.
Ever since his uncle placed a folding Kodak camera in his hands at age 12, Braun has strived to enlighten the world around him through his photographs. We at the Eichler Network sincerely thank Ernie Braun for his enduring photographs of Eichler homes, and stand in agreement behind a simple comment made recently by one of his students: "Clone him!"
Visit Ernie Braun's "Eichler Hall of Frame"—three of his classic Eichler prints, in limited-edition and signed. Mr. Braun's extensive archive of vintage Eichler Homes photographs is administered for publication by the Eichler Network. Contact Director Marty Arbunich for details.
Experience the "Natural World of Ernest Braun"—featuring a portfolio of Ernie Braun's true love: nature photography. Hundreds of choice prints are available, for home and office. Also, Mr. Braun's nature macro-photography students have honored their mentor with an impressive tribute called "Celebrating Nature."
He's unassuming, soft-spoken, and gentle—not usually the kind of person that gets a hold on me. But somehow, perhaps through that warm, sagacious charm and simple and honest approach to his life and work, Marin county photographer Ernie Braun has managed to get under my skin in a big way.
I just can't help myself. Braun touches the soul and tears at the heartstrings like no other photographer can. He is a beautiful and richly artistic human being—granted he's had nearly 80 years to perfect himself. What's more, with each archival session we uncover in his vast Eichler photo file and each new expedition into his natural world we experience through spectacular color slides, Braun and his camera continue to awe.
Apparently we're not alone. Ernie Braun has a fan club out there. Not an official entourage, but a procession of admirers that have been touched by him in much the same way. Among them are the 50 nature macro-photography students that came together recently to build "Celebrating Nature - Photography Exhibiting Ernest Braun's Impact on His Students," a wonderful online portfolio honoring their mentor.
Those students' personal statements about Braun are equally moving. "As a teacher, Ernie's fierce independence encouraged me to take risks, defy the rules, follow my instincts," confessed Ann Rivo. "As an artist, the magic of his work, with its simple beauty stated with an unerring sense of composition, inspires me over and over again. And as a compassionate human being, his presence, support, and encouragement know no bounds."
And as a dear friend, if I may add, Ernie Braun has been a precious ray of sunshine.
Eichler Network Director