Kevin Russ, a photographer & image moderator for iStockphoto, grew up in Arroyo Grande, California. In 2003, he made the move to Portland, planning to study at Multnomah Bible College. Finding the workload to be minimal, Kevin invested in a camera, filling his free time and finding himself instantly smitten with the craft. A year and a half later, photography had evolved into his full-time job. However, after 4 years of consistent portrait work, Kevin became burnt out and took a step back from photography altogether. Two years later, he picked up the camera again and
now spends the majority of his time on the road, exploring & photographing the rustic landscapes & wildlife he encounters.
Read through Kevin’s interview to find out more about his lifestyle, what destinations he is drawn to, & why he prefers shooting with his iPhone. All images below were shot using VSCO Cam™. Also, be sure to follow his Instagram feed under the username @kevinruss to see his daily uploads.
We understand your job allows you to travel often. What does your schedule look like on a daily basis, as well as say, over 6 months time?
My daily schedule this year is completely different from what it was last year. I don’t have clients so my time is 100% my own. I made some changes this year and have spent nearly 7 months living in my car, off and on, since January. The length of time I live in my car before going back to “normal” living conditions has been steadily increasing ever since I started doing it. My current Colorado trip will be my longest, about 10 weeks. Over the next 6 months, I’m planning to stay out even longer and see new parts of this country.
My daily schedule couldn’t be any simpler. I look on a map for places I want to see and then drive there and take pictures. There are always bumps along the way, but it would get boring if there weren’t. Mid-September, my car broke down in Loveland, Colorado, right in the middle of the homeless hub. I spent a week there with those guys and had my first experience working with a homeless mechanic, which proved to be quite memorable.
When do you choose to shoot with your iPhone rather than a DSLR?
These days, I’m shooting almost exclusively with the iPhone. I only bring out the DSLR when I need a telephoto lens, like if I see a bear cub. I’ve always tried to keep photography feeling like a hobby, and the iPhone keeps it that way. I can shoot an image and have it processed in 30 seconds with one hand. I’d rather be out exploring than sifting through gigs of images on a computer screen.
How do you decide on a destination? Does international travel photography interest you as well?
If I haven’t been there, I want to go. The western US is the most accessible for me, so I started here. I’m interested in all areas of the globe; so until this travel bug leaves me, I’ll be seeing as much of it as I can.
Your imagery appears to be focused on rural locations rather than cities. What about these settings draws you?
Feelings of displaced nostalgia, wildlife and an obsession to explore everywhere, keeps me coming back to the rural areas. Seeing places from the past and untouched land has a simpleness that intrigues me. Watching a beaver reinforce it’s dam, four moose forming a semi-circle around me and two bear cubs playing together in a tree are some things recently seen that I can’t get enough of.
How much overlap is there between an image you would shoot for your own portfolio versus an image shot for iStockphoto?
Although I sell nearly everything I shoot on iStock, I haven’t shot anything specifically for it since I first started in 2004. In ‘05 and continuing through ’08, I had an overwhelming request for portraits and didn’t have time to shoot “stock” style stuff. I found the portraits I was shooting were selling well enough and never had the need to sell more.
You are a prolific & successful istockphoto.com contributor. In stock photography, it can be very difficult to be noticed. What are some of the attributes that make a good photo stand out?
Being unique and having a recognizable style are some of the best ways to stand out in stock. You don’t need the top selling business photos to make a living. As long as you have creative images you can fill a niche or create your own.