All images by Hunter Lawrence. Used with permission.
Photographer Hunter Lawrence is an adventure photographer based in Denver with his wife Sarah and their mountain pup, Aspen. He started shooting as a hobby and craft, until he turned it into his full time job. He uses both stills and motion to create social influence for companies to gain their desired outcome.
Hunter recently had the photo above go viral on Reddit, and upon viewing his portfolio, it’s easy for you to see why so many brands love his work. But none of that happened overnight; and as Hunter tells us, it started with medium format film and the thought process that goes into it.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Hunter: I never even considered pursuing photography until I headed to Honduras one summer to run a soccer camp, I had fractured my hip a few weeks prior to the trip and so my entire time there I spent on the sidelines using an old Nikon D5000 to film some video and take some stills to communicate the message of what we were doing for a Gala we would be putting on for the Non-Profit we had partnered with at the time.
That was back in 2008, and since then it’s been a craft that turned from a hobby to now my full time job. It’s been quite the journey.
Phoblographer: What made you want to shoot adventure/landscape images?
Hunter: I’ve always had a longing to be amongst really beautiful places in the world. I grew up traveling quite a bit with my family and snapping stills was always my way to communicate to people what I had just seen. From the Fjords of Iceland to the Deserts of Morocco, there’s always been this passion deep inside of me that has been drawn to landscapes and the people that call so many of these places home. I’m inspired by how landscapes shape the people that call them home.
Telling people about a trip never seemed enough, I wanted people to have something tangible to see.
Phoblographer: Every photographer has reasons for why they actually take photos. So on a daily basis, what would you say triggers you in your mind to actually put the camera to your face and take an image, especially of landscapes?
Hunter: I want people to feel the way I felt when I was in a particular location.
There’s a drive in me to want to share my experiences with others, and motivate them to see that they too can enjoy beautiful things just in their own backyards. I see the beauty of our world, and it inspires me to appreciate life. I guess I want others to learn that same appreciation.
Phoblographer: It’s quite obvious that you’re inspired by nature and the great outdoors, but how do you try to ensure that your work doesn’t look repetitive after being in the wild for so long?
Hunter: In a world where everyone wants to be a photographer, you just have to do you and not give a damn what others think. Having that drive helps you write a real story, you produce things that only you will produce because you’re you…and nobody else is. Life over likes my friends.
Phoblographer: After you’ve gone out and shot, then come back, talk to us about your editing and culling process. What usually helps to qualify an image as something you’d want to include in your portfolio vs just being posted to social media?
Hunter: I started off shooting medium format film photography more professionally and have since gone back to Digital. But having that as my starting point really helped me slow down, and shoot what I really like. When I shot more film, I literally had to come to grips with one release of my shutter cost me like $5-$7 before I’d ever see that image, so I really made those shots count. I don’t shoot rapid fire so culling through isn’t as much of a headache to me as I hear so many people saying it is.
“In a world where everyone wants to be a photographer, you just have to do you and not give a damn what others think.”
Just shoot more quality work and you won’t have to cull through so many files. I use Lightroom CC, and have a couple of presets that i’ve built that I always use as a starting point. I’m looking for images that create mood in a viewer. If it doesn’t make my stomach drop, or if i’m not excited to share it…I won’t even bother with editing it.
My portfolio and my Instagram are pretty much identical, I want the images that people see to be ones that i’m proud of. I want people to feel the coldness, vastness and sheer amount space in a place like Iceland. Taking a stagnant image of a mountain isn’t going to cut it. I use people almost always as scale…and I shoot for symmetry. That’s the beauty of photography, there’s a lot of us doing it, but you really start to become your own when you own your style.