We interview photographer, Glenn Lee Robinson about where he finds inspiration, how he pushes through lulls in creativity, and how he uses social media to connect a global audience to his photography. Hint: it's all about being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Finding your aesthetic and voice will take time. This is true in whatever path you choose, but especially in the world of brand identity. There's never a linear path to finding in your brand's story and often it evolves as you create it. Part of what makes your voice so unique is the way you get to it — it's messy, and takes a lot of trial and error in getting to it, but it's yours and it's important to speak. For photographer, Glenn Lee Robinson, his work speaks volumes in how he's found his voice and continues to grow with it. Robinson's photography is heavily rooted in capturing the mysterious and otherworldly beauty of where he lives in northern California. His photos are stunning and have a sense of magical realism about them. We chatted with Robinson about his compelling photography and how he found his voice and the disciplined process that leads up to each photo he shows to the world. Find out more about his work and his social project called Hike & Shoot.
Sparkflame: Who are you?
Glenn Lee Robinson: My name is Glenn Robinson. I take pictures to depict remarkable outdoor locations, primarily in Northern California. I endeavor to share images that evoke a mood, feeling, and curiosity which hopefully can inspire others to explore and create.
S: How did you start taking pictures?
GLR: In 2010 a friend of mine put a DSLR Canon Rebel into my hand and told me to shoot around with it — no strings attached. He didn’t have a return date or any other expectations but for me to see if I liked taking pictures. Three cameras and thousands of hours later I’m still in love with it. Photography has been an integral part of my life ever since, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
S: What's a defining moment of inspiration for you to pursue photography?
GLR: Last year a friend of mine was willing to join me in exploring Bassi Falls in Eldorado National Forest. That trip introduced me to the true beauty of NorCal and opened my eyes to the possibility of making photography a fulltime job. I’m nowhere near my professional goals as a photographer, but I am on my way. I truly feel that opportunities like sharing with Sparkflame are getting me closer to my goals day by day!
S: How did you develop your aesthetic?
GLR: As a lifelong artist, my style has always ventured into a deeper, darker, more complex side of aesthetics. Photography and post process editing has allowed me to express my thoughts and emotions visually in a way to which I think others can relate. Over the course of time I was finally able to break through several blocks. I’ll talk more about that in a bit!
S: How has social media been an element in creating a sustainable, creative career in photography?
GLR: Social media, particularly Instagram, has allowed me to generate a global audience with whom my work resonates. I feel especially engaged with people from the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Slavic countries. Currently, my specific market is Northern California, and through social media I have been able to market and communicate my new brand Hike & Shoot (Instagram & Facebook: @hikeandshoot) which I am very excited about!
S: How important do you feel establishing a brand is in the digital age of creativity?
GLR: Establishing a brand is crucial for anyone who wants to monetize their work and convert a hobby (or passion) into an actual business. The world understands brands; the challenge for anyone who wants to make a living through their art is to create a brand that people can trust and from which they can derive value. That’s exactly what I’m doing with Hike & Shoot
S: What do you do on a daily basis in your life as a photographer?
GLR: Every day I edit photos and post to Instagram. Every single day. My aesthetic (as referred to in question 4) evolves regularly. I think this is true for any artist. It’s hard to remain static in any given style. Artists are driven to explore, push boundaries, set personal benchmarks and then break them. So my daily habit of editing pictures and posting to Instagram helps to foster and refine my particular edit. It has brought me to a place where now others make remarks about my “style,” saying it’s enjoyable and recognizable. That came directly from month after month after month of following this habit.
S: How do you break out of lulls in the creative process?
GLR: The only way to break out of lulls is to push through them. Shoot even when you don’t feel like it; open up Lightroom and edit even when you don’t want to. Try something off the hook, too. Go further that you would comfortably go in editing a picture; use a different crop; oversaturate and under saturate your photo. Then post it for the world to see. One positive comment can instantly break you out of any discouragement or creative stagnation you might currently feel.
S: When do you know you've landed on the right photo?
GLR: You just know. I don’t think there’s an actual science to it. It’s not necessarily the Golden Ratio; it’s not necessarily proper exposure. It just is. You know it when you see it. For me, I can feel it. But what’s interesting is that I might not feel it for weeks or even months later. This is why it’s critical to keep your images in your catalogue. Don’t write anything off because in a few weeks you might go back to a shot that you overlooked before and now you just feel it’s right. I’ve done this countless times, and once it’s posted the people seem to agree with me that it works.
S: What's one thing you'd tell a young photographer just starting out?
GLR: Find a mentor; someone who is willing to share knowledge and experience and push you to unlock your skill. And then bust your tail and work tirelessly to prove to yourself and everyone else watching that you have what it takes to be successful. Shoot, shoot, and keep on shooting. You’ll get there . . . if you don't quit.