The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 14, 2013

Ashtabula resident’s photography on exhibit at Ashtabula Arts Center

Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — As a child, David Brais fell in love with sports and the photographs in “Sports Illustrated.”

In 1978, a teacher allowed him to photograph the football games for the West Junior High School newspaper using his father’s camera. The opportunity ignited his interest in photography but it would take working at a factory for five years before he would pursue a career in the craft.

“A friend walked me around the factory and said, ‘Look! You are too young to be here and that was it,’” he said. “That’s when I enrolled at the Ohio Institute of Photography in Dayton.”

Brais graduated in 1991 and worked for professional photographers before opening his own studio.

“The computer age was happening so I stopped my photography business and went to work for a place in Virginia with computers,” he said. “But I always stayed in photography a little.”

 Big things started happening for the Ashtabula High School graduate — he married Jacqueline Steward and moved back to his hometown of Ashtabula.

“I photographed weddings, but I didn’t like it so much,” he said. “Then the digital camera came out and everyone thought they were an expert.”

Brais stopped taking photos professionally for six or seven years, only photographing his family and teaching photography classes at the Ashtabula Arts Center, but his dream job was still alive in his heart and mind.

“Going to concerts has been a favorite past time of mine since my late teen years,” he said. “Every time I would go to a show, I would see photographers in front of the stage and I would say, ‘I wish that was me.’”

Then Facebook hit the scene and Brais got back in touch with his college


“I looked at some of the concert photos my friend, Gary Gingrich, had taken and asked him how he got into the show to do that,” he said. “He put me in touch with David Huff, the editor of ‘Jam Magazine Online’ and I practically begged for a chance to prove myself.”

Huff set Brais up with a trial shoot at the Joe Walsh concert at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. That was 1 1/2 years ago.

Today, Brais is the Cleveland contact for the Dallas-based “Jam Magazine Online” and the photographs are piling up: Ziggy Marley, Steve Miller, Rush, Crosby-Stills & Nash, Meatloaf, The Pretty Reckless, Olivia Newton John, Robert Cray and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Fifty-five of his concert photos are on display during the month of June at the Ashtabula Arts Center, and Brais is excited about it.

His favorite concert? “Ziggy Marley. It was my first experience with reggae music.”

A good photo opportunity? “Meatloaf. He’s so dramatic and he looks good.”

Best young act?  “Taylor Momsen. She’s a hidden treasure.”

No fun at all? “Being with the paparazzi at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

A visitor must remember the photos are just some of the 20 shows Brais covered in a year. He sorted through about 10,000 photos to come up with the best 55 for the exhibit.

“Choosing the photos to display at the Ashtabula Arts Center has been like reliving each concert,” Brais said, “but this time, instead of wishing it was me, it is me.”

Ashtabula Arts Center

My Year in Rock and Roll by David Brais

Gallery hours:

Mon. - Thurs. 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Fri. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Sat. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

The gallery is also open before theater

performances and during intermission.

Admission to the gallery is free.