Former Q102 DJ Brian Douglas' career switch to shooting movie production promotional shots came at just the right time.
"I couldn't work there now," Douglas says in slightly more than a whisper when we met for lunch last week during a break from his movie and TV photography.
"I had nodules removed from my vocal chords. The surgery was botched. There was a period of time I couldn't talk. I had to have vocal therapy. Thank God they weren't cancerous," Douglas says.
WKRQ-FM'S MVP – most versatile personality – quit radio while at the top of the Neilsen ratings in October 2015 to pursue his new passion of movie photography. He had been running back and forth from the studio for a year to shoot production photos for Don Cheadle's Miles Ahead, Bruce Willis' Marauders and other movies.
"I'd leave the set for four hours and go back to radio. They were very patient with me (at Q102)," he says.
After repeatedly observing filming of Cate Blanchett's Carol in spring of 2014, and shooting numerous performers at Riverbend, he pitched himself as a photographer to actor-director Don Cheadle. He got the gig as "unit photographer," shooting promotional movie scene still photos for Cheadle's Miles Ahead, about jazz trumpeter Miles Davis.
Douglas worked on nearly every Cincinnati movie in the next four years. He moved to Atlanta last year after photographing the Ted Bundy bio film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, because movie and TV work was more plentiful, he says.
"It was time. My kids were grown," says Douglas, a Kings High School graduate, when we caught up last week at Skyline Chili during a quick trip home.
"Miles Ahead has a special place in my heart. Don Cheadle gave me my start. I got a full page in Entertainment Weekly with the photo I took of him as Miles."
That led to photographing Mariah Carey's A Christmas Melody; Willis' Marauders, Reprisal and 10 Minutes Gone here; John Travolta's Gotti; Gillian Anderson's UFO; Frank Grillo's Donnybrook; Rhyon Nicole Brown's Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel'le; director Emilio Estevez's The Public with Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright and Gabrielle Union; and the Ted Bundy bio film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile with Zac Efron, Jim Parsons, Lily Collins and John Malkovich.
His Cincinnati success spread to Midwest movie productions of An Uncommon Grace in Horse Cave, Ky., with Kelly McGillis; Escape Plan: The Extractors, with Sylvester Stallone, Dave Bautista and Jaime King in Mansfield, Oh.; Maria Bello's Better Start Running in Louisville, Ky.; Arnold Schwarzenegger's Aftermath in Columbus; and Chris Noth's Gone TV series in Pittsburgh. See his credits at the Internet Movie Database here.
Since based in Atlanta, he's worked on The Poison Rose with Travolta, Morgan Freeman and Brendan Fraser in Savannah, Ga.; Trading Paint with Travolta and Shania Twain in Birmingham, Ala.; and Christmas Everlasting with Tatyana Ali in Atlanta.
"I'll always love Q102. It was 28 years of my life," Douglas says. He began dabbling in photography in 2011 by shooting Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson and B.B. King in concert; country star Zac Brown for a Collings Guitars advertisement in Guitar Player magazine; and Reds stars Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.
When he left WKRQ-FM, he told listeners that "the past 28 years have been the absolute best years of my life. I have been blessed beyond belief to work at Q102 in my hometown of Cincinnati."
Despite the repeated rejections of the very competitive movie business – it happens behind the camera, too – Douglas doesn't have any regrets about leaving radio.
"You hear 'no' 1,000 times. I don't take it personally. It's very subjective. We could look at the same photo, and you'll love it and I'll hate it,' he says.
"I'm really lucky I made the change when I did. But I worked hard," he says. "I've been able to work with Morgan Freeman, John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jeremy Irons, Don Cheadle, Zac Efron, Jim Parsons and John Malkovich. I've worked with some iconic people.
"If I had hopes and dreams, they have been far exceeded."