Following your passion and making it your career seems like a dream come true, but imagine having that happen twice.
One local man is doing exactly that.
His name is Brad Barlow, but for many in eastern Idaho, he has been known for the past two decades as Brad Collins, or simply Brad, the popular radio DJ on the local music station Z-103. But he recently hung up the mic and picked up the camera.
“I had always wanted to be a radio DJ. A pop music radio DJ. I loved Kasey Kasem. I loved Rick Dees,” says Brad Barlow, DJ turned Photographer.
Brad knew what he wanted to be from an early age.
“A lot of kids would record the radio onto a cassette tape,” Brad explains, “I would record the stuff that wasn’t the songs. I would record the DJs talking and I would practice what they said.”
When Brad was still in high school, he was an intern at the local radio station and that is when he landed what others only dreamed of.
“I had one of the DJs teach me how to make what is called an ‘air check,’ a recording of what you sound like on air,” says Brad, “so, I made that tape and I handed it in to the program director and they said Saturday and Sunday night 6:00 pm to midnight you’re going to be on and that was right before I was 17. And it’s funny because these days I imagine if you said, hey Saturday and Sunday night 6:00 pm to midnight a lot of kids would go, ‘What? I’ve got to work Saturday and Sunday night?’ But I was like, ‘I’m going to be on the radio while everyone’s out having fun and they’re going to be listening to me.’”
Brad had a knack for making people laugh and was known for his many antics, he even made an appearance on KPVI back in 2000 during one of his many adventures.
“It was all I ever wanted and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” says Brad.
He was living his dream, but then at the peak of his career, what began as a hobby became something more. His love of photography turned into a passion similar to what he had felt before for radio.
“People would say, ‘Oh I love waking up with you guys. You make me feel good in the morning. You put a smile on my face in the morning,’” explains Brad, “and then with photography I’d see tears and I’d see people who were going to cherish this photo forever. This photo was going to be important to them forever. And to have that really personal one on one connection with people I think I wanted that more and more.”
And soon the desire to go behind the camera was the new path his life would take, hanging up the mic after almost a quarter of a century and starting a new career.
“I used to be the one that the microphone was aimed at and now I’m the one who is aiming the camera at somebody else,” says Brad, “I really enjoy that a lot. That’s another thing I was ready for. I was ready to, to not be the focus.”
And his focus now is making others feel good when they step in front of the camera.
“There are so many people that are like, ‘No, no, no, pictures, put that down,’ and they will not let you take a picture of them, but what they don’t realize is that if you just let that shutter get pressed, you may not like that picture immediately but I bet you’re going to love it in five years,” says Brad, “and I bet you’re really going to love it in fifteen years. So you’ve got to quit saying ‘no’ to the camera and every once in a while you’ve got to just go, ‘okay take my picture.’”
Brad’s work is the current art exhibit at the Willard Arts Center in Idaho Falls. The display will run until August 3. His business is called B2X Photography and he mainly does senior and sports portraits. He says that he doesn’t do weddings, unless they’re at the courthouse.