El-Branden Brazil

Photographer, Writer & Mystic Traveller


El-Branden Brazil is a Brit, who has resided in Tokyo, Japan, for 27 years. He is a gifted photographer, whose work has won accolades at the International Photography Awards, as well as first place in the 2010 Asia Foundation photography contest. He also won the first prize in the Tokyo Weekender’s 40th. Anniversary contest. Most recently, he won third prize in the prestigious international competition, the PX3 – Prix de la Photographie Paris, in 2015. His work has been published and shown around the world, including Berlin, LA, Paris, London and Tokyo. He is also a Getty contributor.

As a photojournalist, he has covered major news events, and in particular, spent many years documenting the ongoing struggle of the Burmese people in and out of Burma, including the by-election of 2012. He also covered the Red Shirts’ protests in Bangkok, as well as the tsunami disasters in both India and Japan. His work as a photojournalist can also be viewed at:


He is a very versatile artist, who is comfortable working in all environments. El-Branden has covered many large private and public events, such as the Australia Vs. New Zealand Rugby game in Tokyo, in 2010, as well as many charity events, parties, balls and auctions.

As previously mentioned, he has a passion for Burma and its people, and is a determined Free Burma activist. He cares very much about refugee rights, and campaigns continuously. His work as both a photographer and an activist were covered in the Japan Times, as well as Eurobiz Magazine and Unearthing Asia Magazine.

His life is driven by a passion for mysticism. He particularly adores Buddhism, and practices Zen regularly. His travels across the globe have allowed him to witness and partake in a myriad of sacred rituals.

Third Prize Winner of PX3 2015

17 Responses to “About”

  1. Jeni Grose

    Hi there,

    I am writing my degree dissertation on body modification and different aspects of the subject, and one chapter is about Padaung women and the brass coils around their necks.

    I came across one of your photographs in ‘Colour portraits’ with a young women with these brass coils and was wondering if I may use this photograph as a reference in my dissertation please?

    You would be fully referenced so people would know it was your photograph, and it is simply for an academic essay – it is not going to be published or used commercially.

    I would sincerely appreciate your permission – Please get in touch.

    Kind regards,

  2. Janis Phelps

    Hello, El-Brandon: My deepest gratitude for your work in the world and especially for bringing Zen Master Jinen to awaken us. I was profoundly moved by What is Truth? Will there be more youtube videos from you and Master Jinen? How may I contact him? Kind regards, Janis

  3. The Planet Online

    Greetings, El-Branden Brazil
    We are an emerging T-shirt company named Planet Apparel, LLC, in Santa Ana, California.
    While searching Flickr for an image of Mount Fuji, we found yours to be exceptional.
    With your permission, we would like to print your photo on our line of T-shirts.
    Here is a link to the specific image.
    Mount Fuji Above Clouds
    If there are any terms you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact us at

    Thank You, we look forward to hearing from you.
    -Alex Slayden, Manager
    Planet Apparel, LLC

  4. creerunner

    I finally took some time to visit your site and I am deeply moved by your passionate eye for the struggles around you. Your images have soul and few photographers I know have the ability to see that through the lens of a camera. Most photographers to not shoot with there souls either. Carry on my friend, the western world needs you, so that they understand that the rest of the world does not evolve around them…ekosi

    • El-Branden Brazil

      Dear Rodger,

      Thank you very much, once again, for your extremely generous words. Indeed, there is so much more in the world than the Western perspective, some of which seems to be conveniently ignored. There are so many important stories that need to be listened to, and I hope very much that I can contribute in some way towards your work in telling the Cree story.

  5. Chris Grundy

    Nice one Branden. Your photography is fantastic, as good as anything I have seen . Site looks great too.

  6. Indranil Bagchi

    Hello El-Branden:

    I saw the videos you have posted about Master Jinen. I wanted to ask you a few questions about the master and the possibility of practicing in his monastery. I live in the US currently but am from India.

    I will very much appreciate if you will respond back.



      • Indranil Bagchi

        Hello El-Branden:

        If it is OK, can you write to me to my email address: ibagchi@gmail.com. The burning question that I have is whether the master accepts students for long-term stay and training with him. I am a little concerned that I am 51 years old.


  7. Mark Dhyananda

    Hello my dear El-Branden, here’s my 2nd essay, it addresses the problem with lineage.

    All through the ages, people have been concerned with lineages, as if one’s pedigree is more important than the actual practice, more important than the matter of birth and death. But being attached to lineage is just more fuel for the ego, making it that much harder to escape Samsara.

    The Buddha wasn’t the only one that realized he had to liberate himself. There had been many others after him as well. Dogen Zenji decided that there were no enlightened masters available to help him; Zen Master Bankei was another who realized the same thing.

    One thing we must understand is that our lineage and our teacher cannot grant us enlightenment or liberation. They only point the way to Nirvana. It’s up to us to do the actual work.

    And what is the actual work? Doing the practice. Sitting in Zazen. Day in and day out. Becoming one with our true self nature.

    As Bodhidharma said, “Chanting sutras is pointless, invoking Buddhas is meaningless!” Unless we see our true nature, we cannot break the chains that bind us to birth and death.

    But as Jinen Roshi says, “Our true self is no self.” What does that mean? How do we realize that ultimate selflessness? Through Zazen. But moreso, through Shikantaza.

    Shikantaza is Zazen that is totally unsupported by any meditative device. Just sit. Don’t count your breaths. Don’t recite mantras. Don’t think. Don’t try not to think. If thoughts arise, let them arise. If thoughts fade away, let them fade away.

    Zen Master Bankei advised people to abide in the Unborn Buddha Mind. What is this Unborn Buddha Mind? It is your true self. It is an empty mind that is completely free from thoughts and discriminations.

    Here, try this short exercise… listen to a sound, any sound… just listen. But do not analyze what you are hearing. Don’t ask, “Who is hearing this?” Don’t discern whether “you” like or dislike the sound. Just become One with the sound. There is no listener, no player. There is only that which is heard.

    Why is all of this so important? Because now you have a human body. If you fail to realize your own true Buddha nature and break free from the cycle of birth and death, you may not get another human body for many millions of lifetimes. Time is of the essence!

    The Buddha wasn’t concerned with lineages or pedigrees. He was only concerned with putting an end to suffering.

    His final instruction was simply, “Strive on diligently.” So, abandon the ego, forget about certification and teaching degrees, don’t concern yourself with lineages and pedigrees. Just maintain your daily practice of Zazen. It’s really just that simple.

  8. Josh

    Hi El-Branden. I am working on a song I would like to release on Spotify in the next few months. I am curious if you would be able to grant me permission to use a few 8 second sound bites from your videos featuring Jinen? I would have to send you drafts of the song for approval! Cheers.

      • josh

        happy to! and thanks for considering. do you have an email I can send it to? what is the best way to get it to Jinen Roshi?

      • Josh Wennergren

        I just sent it over to you. Hard to put a genre to it, but somewhere (I hope) between The Books, Sigur Ros, and Jon Hopkins.

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