Blinding red mountain sunrises, desert dust from a herd of wild mustangs, vast fog-encumbered forests and magnificent towering waterfalls, crowded by brush and moss; a few of the moments captured by Kevin Russ, a man who has made a career and captivated an immense following by photographing the American West – all with his iPhone 5. Kevin is based out of – well – wherever his car is parked, and his only tools are his iPhone 5, and an editing app, such as VSCO Cam. He lets nature do the rest.
Some have called Kevin the Ansel Adams of our generation, others have said that he is the ambassador of the American West, documenting the landscape and wild moments uncharted by man. His approach is simple, he attributes his success to being in the right places at the right time, and being able to take advantage of the moment. His mobile lifestyle has allowed him to capture some of the most haunting photos of our landscape – desert sunsets, eerie forests and even wild animals.
In addition to being a contributor for iStockphoto, he also sells prints on Society6, investing all of the profits back into his adventures. We invited Kevin to kick off our #ExploreMore series, in hopes that his perspective will inspire all amateur adventurers out there to pack a bag this weekend, get out, and explore somewhere new.
Read our interview with Kevin Russ below, and follow him on Instagram for more!
CULT: How did you decide to drop everything and invest your time traveling?
Kevin: My life in Portland had become easy and kinda boring and I wasn’t learning anything or being challenged in any way. I imagined looking back on my life in a few years and not being proud or having anything worth remembering.
CULT: What draws you to shoot, almost exclusively, with your iPhone?
Kevin: It’s fun. I’ve figured out that if I’m going to make art for a living I need to be excited about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. Changing up my camera was and still is an enjoyable challenge. It also keeps things feeling like a hobby which is very important to me.
CULT: In that regard, how has the internet and use of social media impacted your career both as a photographer and an explorer?
Kevin: It impacts some of the places I go and most of the people I meet. Many friendships have been made through Instagram. Social media directly affects my print sales which is a big portion of how I’m able to travel.
CULT: Your work obviously shows a love for wildlife and the landscapes that you capture. What draws you to photographing nature?
Kevin: I’m inspired by it. When I’m emotionally moved by a scene I will try to capture that and share what I’ve felt with others. I also enjoy the challenge of shooting wildlife with an iPhone. It forces you to get close to the action.
CULT: We imagine that there are some good stories associated with living life on the road. What’s one of the most memorable things that has happened to you?
Kevin: My car broke down in Loveland, Colorado and I was stranded there for a week. I met a group of homeless men who helped get me back on the road. I’m fascinated a little bit with people who live outside, so getting to follow them around to the soup kitchens and seeing where they sleep at night was very interesting.
CULT: How do you find your next destination?
Kevin: Basically it’s anywhere I haven’t been. Right now I’m just going places I can drive to which is basically the Americas so I’ve got a lot to see.
CULT: When you’re not off exploring and shooting, where can we find you?
Kevin: End of the year holidays I’m always in California spending time with my family where I grew up. My other home base is Portland, Oregon.
CULT: If you were exiled to photograph one location for the rest of your life, where would it be?
Kevin: Well I haven’t been to that many places yet but from the places I’ve seen I’d say Glacier National Park, Montana. I was only there for 10 days but there seemed to be so much to see.
CULT: What are three things that you never leave home without:
Kevin: iPhone, charging cable, water
CULT: Words to live by:
Kevin: Less is more
#ExploreMore is a movement that honors adventure. The explorers who don’t fear the unknown but welcome it, and those who are pioneering unchartered territory in new and unimaginable ways. After all, adventure is life. Tag your own Instagram photos with #ExploreMore to share your adventures, no matter how big or how small, or how close to home. Let’s build a conversation around exploring new terrain and conquering the fear of the unknown. Join the movement.