Behind the Camera: USCA graduate Brent Cline builds 20 years of commercial success

Commercial photographer Brent Cline has traveled the world snapping subjects ranging from people to cars to golf carts, but he always returns to his Aiken roots. When he isn’t away on a photo shoot, he takes pride in capturing the people and places that make his hometown special.

Cline graduated from the University of South Carolina Aiken in 1995 with degrees in biology and philosophy. While he planned to become a doctor and worked in various administrative roles for Aiken Regional Hospital, he found his true calling in more artistic ventures.

“I loved working at the hospital, but when I met someone starting a digital imaging company, I found what I was really good at,” he says. “I did graphic design for various companies and then discovered photography.”

Today, Cline is an international commercial photographer and has been photographing professionally for more than 20 years. He is known for creating powerful images in challenging situations for travel, editorial, and commercial advertising campaigns. His clients include several advertising agencies, institutions of higher education, vehicle and appliance manufacturers, and cosmetic companies from across the United States.

Cline jokes that his medical career has also come full circle, as he continues to work for Aiken Regional producing images for billboards and other advertising campaigns. However, he wholeheartedly believes that he belongs behind the camera rather than the stethoscope.

“People have told me photography is what I’m supposed to be doing. I felt that when I was getting started, but it was nice to have the encouragement,” he says.

Although his education was in biology and philosophy, USC Aiken was instrumental in Cline’s path to photography. A graphic arts class taught by Greg Weis was particularly influential, as was a post-graduate photography class taught by Ginny Southworth.

Cline says, “I took Ginny’s class before I went hardcore into being commercial. About halfway through, she says, ‘Brent, what are you doing here?’ I told her I was discovering if I had what it takes to do it. She said, ‘Hell yeah, you do.’”

Cline says his career path should be a lesson to students in taking chances and trying new things outside of the obvious areas to which they may gravitate.

“You may have this preconceived notion of what you think life will be like, but if you don’t allow yourself to experience new opportunities, you may miss something,” he says. “I was always artistic as a kid, but I didn’t think I was good enough to make a living out of it. I had to take that chance.”

Although Cline’s success takes him on photo shoots around the world, Aiken remains his home base. His work routinely appears in Aiken Magazine and Augusta Magazine, showcasing the people and places that make the area special. Cline strives to capture Aiken’s strong sense of community and convey that emotion through his work. It is the same feeling that exists within USC Aiken and connects the campus to the greater community.

“Aiken is such a neat area. As students, you see professors around town, and outside of school, and get to know them personally. The sense of community carries through from education to real life,” he says.

For more information, contact Leigh Thomas -