Kyle DeWitt, a passionate photographer, is the one kicking off my ‘Passionately Inspiring Series’. He might be unknown to you, but that is something I want to change. Here is why…
As Karl Lagerfeld once said:
‘What I love about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.’
I love taking photos, 24/7 so to speak. They all tell a story, which is what I love most about photos. They have that gift to make people feel. And that is where Kyle excels. It is like you are part of his journey, it also awakens my love to explore even more and his food pictures are just incredible. You’ll know what I mean!
‘Life is like a camera. You focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negative.
And if things don’t work out, take another shot.’
Kyle DeWitt was the VP of Creative Technology at Socialtyze, but recently switched his career to a freelancer. He was very enthusiastic to answer ‘some’ of my questions. This interview was very fun to do and I did learn from this interview, which is the goal of this series; being inspired by passionate people. So let’s get to know Kyle a bit more, photographer of people and things and places and food.
Kyle, you started your first business at the age of 12. A born leader I’d say?
I sold pecans from my grandparents farm to fund my baseball card collection. I don’t know if I’d say born leader, born hustler maybe.
‘Passion changes everything’. Do you agree with that quote?
Everything is too strong but I think your best work is the result of investment time and energy into the work and passion makes that easy.
You were the VP of Creative Technology at Socialtyze. What exactly did you do?
I was the VP of Creative Technology, I left in August to freelance full time. A creative technologist is just a fancy way to describe someone who works as a creative director, but emphasis the interactive and development side of things. I understand interactive development and have a lot of experience building interactive products, and then take that experience and mold it into a creative campaign.
What made you switch to a Freelancer? Do you see it as a risk?
I don’t think working for yourself is more of a risk than working for someone else. It’s risky to put your career in anyone else hands. You might not be learning, you might not be getting to do the things you want to do. Getting stuck in park is dangerous for anyone.
‘Getting stuck in park is dangerous for anyone.’
What kind of jobs do you accept as Freelancer?
A mix of creative gigs, photography, interactive design, graphic design, to a less degree consulting and strategy but that’s a smaller part. Production is typically why someone brings me in house.
What motivates you?
Going to new places, seeing and trying new things. There’s just so much beauty and wonder out there and I want to experience it.
You are a passionate photographer and explorer. What is photography to you? What is a good photo to you?
Photography to me is the best way to bring someone on the journey with me. When I’m out exploring a place or on a hike, photography lets me share that with people while letting me make a record for myself of the places I’ve been and things I’ve seen. A good photo tells a story, you feel like you were there, all the emotion of being in that place at that time shows up in the image.
When did your passion for photography start? What was the spark that started it all?
I’m not sure honestly. In high school we’d always have those disposable cameras and that lead to shooting on film and learning to develop in college. Professionally it started as a means to an end, when I was working with companies on their new websites, they would often need new content and that turned into photography as a service.
‘A good photo tells a story.’
You talk about disposable cameras. Photography has changed quite a lot over the years. How do you keep yourself up to date in this field? What is the biggest improvement in the photographic evolution?
Sure, I think technology has changed, I remember how much longer the process was of shooting film, developing it, scanning it, editing in photoshop and getting that file print ready. It would take weeks to have something from a shoot and now I can go from shot to finished image in hours. It’s nice being able to not pay $1 a shot like I had to with film. I like how nice and detailed the medium formats are and how affordable Canon has made them. But I don’t think any of that is really something you need to keep up with, it’s mostly a matter of convenience.
I shoot with other photographers often, mostly my guy Geoff Roseborough (@hey.geoff). It’s nice to have someone to make sure when you’re hanging off a cliff trying to shoot stars through beams on a bridge that you have a buddy there in case you go for a swim. Plus he’s a talented photographer and a good person to bounce ideas off of.
What is the most challenging field (products, people, nature) to photograph?
All three of those subjects have their unique challenges. I think the bigger challenge is having a style that’s yours. With the number of images photographers see and get stoked on, its hard to train your brain not to imitate someone else shot or style of editing. You see a body of work and it looks greats and immediately you think “I can make that image.”, but the challenge isn’t the execution as a much as creating that vision first and doing it consistently with your voice. And that’s not a challenge that’s unique to photography, it’s a challenge in any creative profession.
Which of the elements; fire and water, is the most difficult one to capture?
Neither – emotion is the hardest thing to capture. Making someone feel something with an image is the most difficult thing to capture.
Who inspires you as a photographer?
I’m inspired by anyone doing the kind of work they love, you can always tell who’s passionate about what they capture. Today guys like Jeremy Cowart, Chase Jarvis, Chris Burkard, Jimmy Chin consistently create images that have impact, they make you feel something.
What is your ultimate goal or/and biggest dream as a photographer?
This might sound sad but I don’t really have any ambitions. I shoot for myself and my friends who like my images. Half the fun is the pursuit, planning the shoot, the road trip, the hike in, setting up the gear, getting the images off the card to see if you got the perfect one. I really cherish the whole experience so I guess if I was going to have an ultimate goal it’s to never stop loving that process.
How does a food photo session go?
Very much depends on the client. Most of my clients are pretty strict about how we shoot – the look, the style, the composition, in a lot of ways I’m just kind of the hired gun. Typically they are a very slow, carefully orchestrated shoot with a lot of steps between first plating and final image.
Which camera(s) do you currently use? When buying a new camera, what are the qualities you look for?
I use Canon stuff but I think that’s a moot point these days. You can get a quality camera for a lot of manufactures at a lot of price points. Scotty Kelby gave the best advice on this, ‘Buy what your friends have so you can borrow their lenses’. I think that’s perfect.
What do you love most about exploring?
Really the best trips are the ones with a good crew. Exploring on its own is fun because it’s discovery and because you grow as a person the more you see and do, but the BEST experiences happen when you’ve got someone to share it with.
If I’m correct, you visited 49 of 50 states? Is there a specific state you like the most? Have you crossed the US borders?
Ha ha you’re correct. 49 of 50, I have not been to North Dakota. I almost did a few years ago, I was in Aberdeen, South Dakota, 34 miles from the border. I don’t think there is one that is the BEST but I think there are a lot of very different and very beautiful places to visit and see. I’ve been to both Canada and Mexico and traveled Europe a fair amount.
Your professional highlights?
I mean I think getting paid to be a creative professional is highlight enough. The fact that rent and groceries and gas and insurance are all paid by doing stuff I love is a highlight.
What is your advice to ‘newbie’ photographers?
Picasso said “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Starting out, be a sponge and absorb anything and everything you can so you can develop a taste. When you have that, focus on developing your style. I talked about how difficult being original is but it starts with knowing what’s out there, what’s happened before you, what is happening now. Find something that speaks to you and dive in, soak it up and on the other side you’ll start see your twist that thing. Carve it up until you have something that’s uniquely yours.
A big thank you to Kyle for sharing his talent and for taking time to answer my questions. Since Kyle’s portfolio is growing every day, I asked Kyle to select a few of his favorite photos. I will be sharing his selection over the next few weeks. And they really are amazing!
Be a sponge and absorb anything and everything you can.
All pictures used in this blog belong to Kyle DeWitt, unless stated otherwise.