Every month I talk to a new photographer on Instagram. They share their favorite locations, camera gear, and the best practices to have on Instagram. This week is Jeff Richards, a photographer who is located in Boulder, Colorado.
What inspired you to start photography? Are there any specific photographers on Instagram that inspire you?
The thing that really inspired me to pick up a camera was boredom. When I was still in school in Seattle I was constantly bored and sort of let down by the entire concept of school. It wasn’t fulfilling, and certainly wasn’t making me happy, so I looked for a way to escape that. I would go on hikes almost every weekend with friends, and would take pictures with my phone because I thought it was fun. People seemed to really enjoy these pictures, so eventually I bought my first DSLR, and within the year had dropped out of school entirely. A lot of the people who inspire me I’m lucky enough to call my friends. Artistically, Garrett King (@short_stache), Scott Kranz (@Scott_Kranz), Jacob Moon (@moonmountainman) and of course guys like Cory Richards (@CoryRichards) and Renan Ozturk (@renan_ozturk) definitely inspire me. Lately I’ve found a lot of inspiration in bad ass athletes who take pictures of their adventures, local people like Austin Porzak (@aporzak1) Dan Sohner (@dansohner) and Kim (KB) Bess (@halfpint22), and the guys everyone knows like Jimmy Chin.
I noticed that you hike a lot in snow-capped mountains. What is the most dangerous aspect of hiking in the snow at high altitudes?
In the mountains there is, unfortunately, a lot of things that can go wrong at any moment. My biggest fear has always been avalanches. Some of the snow slopes I climb are right in the sweet spot for avalanches, and since I climb alone a lot, it kind of freaks me out.
What is your favorite location to photograph at?
My favorite shooting location is probably Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s close to where I live, and full of some of the most scenic hikes and climbs in the state. It seems like all the states best peaks somehow got clustered together in this one area. I consider myself lucky to be able to explore it so often. Even though I’m up there almost every weekend it feels like, there always seems to be something new to discover.
You seem to be very drawn to landscape photography. What about landscapes makes you want to capture them?
Landscapes intrigue me simply because of their vastness. To realize how big our world is compared to ourselves is very humbling, and I love trying to capture that sense of size.
What is the most memorable hike you have been on in the mountains while capturing photos?
The most memorable hike was probably one to Chasm Lake, in Rocky Mountain National Park. Chasm Lake sits right at the base of a huge vertical wall of granite (think alpine Yosemite) that leads right up to the summit of probably Colorado’s most famous 14,000 foot peak; Long’s Peak. The hike is not particularly hard, but some friends and I went last January and had to deal with negative temperatures and winds so strong they frequently knocked us over. After hiking for a few hours in the dark, we started approaching the lake and the most brilliant red sunrise happened to our backs. Every part of the mountain was glowing red like I’ve never seen before. When we got to the lake itself, it was completely frozen and smooth as glass with huge, beautiful cracks going every direction. It was definitely one of the coolest sights I’ve seen.
What camera gear do you shoot with?
For cameras I use a 5D markIII and a Sony a6300. I recently got the Sony as a way to still shoot when weight was a big factor, such as on runs and shorter day hikes.
What advice would you give to the starting photographer?
I’m not sure I can really give advice, as I’m not some pro who has everything figured out. But I guess I would say really take time in developing your own style. Things like Instagram really favor a few particular styles, which makes it very enticing to just copy what everyone else is doing, but you’ll be happier just making your own name for yourself with a style and pictures that are true to who you are.
Lastly what advice would you give to the beginning photographer on Instagram trying to expose their work?
As far as exposure goes, don’t worry about it too much. Use hashtags and such that will connect you to the kind of people you want to be associated with, try to be meaningful with how you connect with people, try to build real relationships, and don’t worry about the rest.
To see more of Jeff's photography go here!