Adorama TV has taken us to from Canada to Europe, following some of the world’s best photographers as they give a glimpse behind the scenes of the artist’s adventures that fuel their creativity. In the latest season of Adorama TV’s ‘Through the Lens’ web series, creator and director Sal D’Alia brings the series back to the United States where an unbelievable 16 episodes were filmed. Adventure, street, landscape, and even dance are just some of the genres covered in this season. Based on the trailer and the episodes that have already come out, this may be the most diverse ‘Through the Lens’ season yet.
We were lucky enough to sit down with the featured photographers and talk about their experiences shooting their episode and what fuels their creativity.
But before you read on, check out all of this season’s episodes on the AdoramaTV YouTube Channel.
Alex Strohl has such a strong connection to nature and adventure that the Madrid born photographer moved to Montana in order to pursue his passion for capturing authentic moments in some of the most pristine wilderness in North America. And his gamble paid off. While accumulating an Instagram following of 2 million people, Strohl’s work has also been commissioned by clients such as Apple, Land Rover and Facebook.
Being a landscape and adventure photographer, you say your drive is to inspire people to just ‘get outside.’ How do you feel the big landscapes of the Northern United States, and especially your home of Montana and Glacier National Park, help you convey this inspiration?
For someone who grew up in Europe the sheer scale of the American West is mind blowing, on a daily basis. Every time I get in the car or hit the trail to go somewhere I’m blown away by how far I can see. Add that the emptiness of the landscape and you have a perfect recipe for finding inspiration.
Has the move to Montana helped shape the photographer you are today?
Leaving LA and moving out west has been one of the best decisions of my life. Being surrounded by nature and having the Rockies in our backyard is a great great feeling. It has brought a more active life of connection with the outdoors. In terms of photography I feel lucky to be able to go execute in the same day an idea or a concept I’ve had in the morning.
Do you think your career path in the outdoor/adventure photography industry would have been similar if you had stayed in France?
It would have been very different. Being based stateside has opened a lot of doors for me. You know the old saying ‘out of sight out of mind?’ Well it works both ways! Even just being on the same time zone as your clients is really helpful, it’s one more thing you have in common. Whenever I stay too long on a different time zone I start to feel out of touch. The industry in market is a lot smaller but solid work comes out of it. Some French brands like Vuarnet and Salomon are bold and willing try new things and it’s a blast working with some of these brands.
Omar Z Roble wasn’t always a photographer. In fact, Roble can say that his journey into photography started where few others had. Roble was a mime, training under Marcel Marceau, a famed mime actor. These lessons taught Robles how to tell stories through subtle movements, which was a natural fit for when he found his passion for photographing ballet dancers in front of rugged urban environments.
In your TTL episode, you show a photo you took of the dancer with Bill Cunningham in the background. That is one of the coolest things we have ever seen. How did that moment, and that photo, inspired you since?
Thank you! I’ve always believed in mentorship and learning from the legends such as Mr. Cunningham. It was a great pleasure for me to honor him in that way even while unbeknownst to him. My question to this day is however, when will I ever be able to see the picture he took of the dancer and will I be consequently in it that photograph as well? I would be certainly the ultimate honor for me. I dream to see my picture next to his on a gallery’s wall.
With the destruction that Hurricane Maria caused, why did you feel it was important to film the TTL episode there as opposed to your current home in NYC?
As a Puerto Rican living in the diaspora, I was deeply touched and traumatized by living the tragedy away from my family who experienced it on the ground. From the day after the hurricane, I started efforts to help raise funds and set up a website called Pixels4puertorico.org where people could purchase prints of my work and other photographers who donated their work at reduced prices. All proceeds went straight into aiding efforts in the island. When Adorama approached me to film this episode, their approach was that the series was coming back to the USA and they wanted to film me photographing somewhere in the US outside of NYC. My immediate thought was to bring them to Puerto Rico, a US colony ignored by most US citizens. The hurricane made this ignorance much more visible. Many folks here in the mainland had absolutely no clue that Puerto Ricans are indeed U.S. citizens who pay federal taxes and are as entitled to aid as Texas, Florida or Louisiana. That was my thought behind bringing TTL to Puerto Rico.
Lifelong California resident Kathryn Dyer started an Instagram account as a way of sharing her love of nature, but it wound up becoming her creative outlet after she was diagnosed with cancer. The nature that always calmed her was becoming harder to visit as the treatments took effect, but Dyer would force herself to get outside in order to take photographs. Along with her husband Karl, Dyer’s love for nature resonated with people, leading to a large and passionate following who find her work both beautiful and inspiring.
You credit photography with helping you find your love of nature. How has that love of nature also helped you through your hardships, such as your battle with breast cancer?
I was lucky to grow up around nature, camping and boating with my family in Southern California. Both of my grandparents owned salt water boats when I was young and we did many trips to the Channel Islands. Later on, as a teenager, I spent afternoons at the beach surfing. As I grew older and took on more responsibilities I lost much of that connection.
In 2014 when I was diagnosed with cancer I was in shock and had trouble seeing beauty in the world. That all changed when we got a camera and I realized there was a safe world in that viewfinder that had nothing to do with cancer or fear or pain. The beauty I was able to find through that viewfinder helped me to reconnect with nature and gave me a sanctuary where I could forget about procedures and tests and survival rate.
In your episode, you talk about the lone oak tree that was one of your favorite places to photograph, as well as connect with nature. The oak tree has since fallen. Even though the loss was hard for you, what positive aspects, if any, came out of the loss of the tree?
That’s a tough one. My husband, Karl, and I had found this wonderful lone oak tree which was seemingly so strong. It was close to our house so when I was fatigued or had a long day at appointments we could go catch the sunset there. It grounded us and gave us many peaceful moments. When I started chemotherapy I went by the tree before and it looked fine, after my treatment when I went by this majestic oak had cracked in half and fallen. It was such an eerie moment. It reminded me that things aren’t always as they seem. That tree looked so strong and I thought it would be there forever but it won’t. Everything is impermanent.
You and your husband Karl have found your passion for photography together. How do you think that joint creativity has translated in your marriage?
Karl and I both joined Instagram before I was diagnosed with cancer but we were shooting with our phones. After I was sick Karl bought us a camera (yes, one to share). He said we’ll learn as we go and just enjoy what we see. He was right. We survived sharing a camera and our marriage is stronger because of all of the shared experiences we’ve had. We really enjoy working together and each contributing ideas to a project. Creating things together has made us closer as has cancer. Karl absolutely stepped up and has cared for me with true love and kindness. He is my hero.
Zach Allia had a successful career in Silicon Valley before deciding to leave the bustle of the tech world for the more slow-paced life in the pristine Utah landscape. Over the years, Allia has amassed an impressive travel client list that includes tourism boards such as Visit Jordan and Istria, Croatia. Allia’s near half a million followers on Instagram flock to his feed daily for an extraordinary mix of travel, wildlife, puppies and portraiture.
When you look at Humza Deas profile and career to date, it is hard to believe that he is only 21 years old. His photographs’ gritty, distinct look and feel comes from his background growing up skateboarding on the streets of New York City. Deas loves showing off his love for New York City from unique perspectives, often from above. Whether it be a helicopter or a rooftop, Deas thrives off these high altitude scenes. Deas credits his endless exploration of the city as also helping him have a better understanding of who he is as an individual.
Erin Sullivan’s love for photography started young, when she was just a teenager. Her constant desire to be outdoors with her camera led her to work as a wilderness guide and adventure trip leader. These experiences helped Sullivan learn how to not only capture the scenes in front of her, but interact with her environment. Whether she is photographing lions on safari or documenting the culture of Myanmar, Sullivan has a wide range of documentary styles that has helped her blog ‘Erin Outdoors’ become one of the most popular travel blogs on the internet today.
Your travel schedule these days often takes you far from the US borders. So far that there is even some Kenya footage in your TTL episode. But when you were in your home, you found joy in sharing some of your favorite local spots. What was the message you were trying to convey with including both locations?
I spend about half of my time in my home base, and half my time on the road or trail. Home right now for me is LA. I moved to LA about a year ago, which a lot of people found hard to believe. They thought I must want to be somewhere really outdoorsy, since the outdoors is a big part of what I photograph. But I’m always looking for a place that is just outside of my comfort zone, and that was honestly LA for me. And maybe folks don’t consider that there is a lot of beautiful nature relatively close by. So I wanted to do at least part of this episode at my current home base. We went to Point Dume, which is one of my favorite sunset spots in Malibu. In my episode, you also see cuts from Kenya. I hope to show people that there is magic everywhere, not just on the trips that take you far from home.
If you had to plan a 30 day US road trip, what are some of your must visit locations? Both places you have been and US bucket list locations?
Not sure if I’m allowed to take any flights during this road trip, but I’d want to spend some significant time in Alaska. I have been there a few times and its just a place I want to experience more of. I’d like to spend more time in Lake Clark and Denali National Parks, and I’d like to go to Katmai. I love photographing wildlife and I’d love to learn more about brown bears and spend some time photographing them and sharing their story. I also haven’t seen much of the northern lights, so that would be a highlight. If that’s about 10-12 days, then I’d take the rest of the time to road trip from Seattle to Maine, with a route that takes me through Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin–– I’ve never spent significant time there, and I’d love to. Lastly I’d love to shoot the fall colors in the Northeast. I’m from the east coast, but I haven’t been there for the fall since college. It’s truly a special time of year there.
You are known as Erin Outdoors, and it’s easy to see why! But with all of the remote outdoor adventures you embark on, is it hard to come home to a metropolis as crazy as Los Angeles?
Ha, I get this question a lot! To me, “Outdoors” doesn’t just mean literally outside. It means outside of what is comfortable to you, outside of your routine or what you are used to. I moved to LA because I wanted to surround myself with buzzing creativity. Yes, I do miss the mountains of Colorado. I miss being able to drive five minutes down the road to a trailhead. But I’m also not living downtown… I live a few miles from the beach, and that offers a different kind of peace. Just like nothing compares to the mountains of Colorado, nothing compares to the coast of California either. I love coming home to a city that always has something going on. People are fighting for what they believe in and creating art and pursuing their ideas. Is it hectic? Yeah–– I don’t think I will live here forever, but I am enjoying this chapter while I’m in it.
Terry Mclaughlin has lived in Los Angeles, California after moving from his home in Wichita, Kansas. His street photography has fueled his desire to learn more about the people from the Southern California metropolis, especially the local homeless population. Coming from a background which forced the photographer to confront his addiction issues head on, Mclaughlin hopes his documentary work showing the Los Angeles that people rarely see helps viewers learn more about the problems of addiction and homelessness.
The one thing that most stands out about your work is the sense of height. Whether from the air, laying on the ground looking up, or sitting on a rooftop ledge, height seems to play a big part in your style. What is it about the vertigo feeling that fuels your creativity?
Your not going to believe this but over the years I have developed a fear of heights. They fear of falling developed from when I started having nightmares about falling from the rooftops. I can no longer stand at the edge of buildings without the fear of falling. That being said, shooting from heights gives you a feeling of being alive. Nothing beats the exhilaration of flying in a helicopter and zipping around city catching all those unique angles.
You show a side of Los Angeles that few have seen, or even knew existed. What is it about the sprawling metropolis that inspires you, photography wise?
I started my photography journey on the urban exploration side of things. Exploring abandoned places, rooftops and urban landscapes from different high places around the city. I have also grown to love doing street photography. I love to capture the essence of the people and culture of the cities that I visit.
Multi-talented is a phrase all too often used these days, but when applied to Jordan Taylor Wright, it is an accurate representation. The Los Angeles based creative hasn’t kept himself in one specific genre of art, instead choosing to utilize all of his skills and business sense by running a full fledged production company and creative agency. While not working on ad campaigns with brands such as Bose, L’Oréal, American Express, and Marvel, Wright has also contributed to music videos for Usher, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, and The Chainsmokers. Seemingly never stopping to sleep, Wright is also a writer whose book “Forever in the Infinite Now” is available on his education website Intention.io
You are known for your filmmaking, but your IG is full of incredible photos and digital art. As filmmaking is your actual career, how do you find the time and inspiration to create the still content and inspirational messages that appear on your IG feed?
I come up with original ideas simply by living in the present. I could be sitting in traffic and look up to see a beautiful building or design. From there I think, “How cool would it be if…” and start bouncing ideas around. What if my car lifted off into the sky and flew around the bright lights? What if I abandoned traffic and my car altogether and was magically transported to this beautiful location free of traffic altogether? By just bouncing around ideas, I’m able to come up with some pretty original and creative content.
My company, Taylor Cut Films, is all about creative expression. Whether it be a music video, feature film, or commercial, we express visuals by means of storytelling through our soul. We all have a story to tell. We all have energy within us waiting to be shared. Some express themselves through music, whether it be listening or creating. Some do it through words, or painting, or videos, or dance. We all have an outlet which is authentically us (our essence). We create content from this place for other to see, so that they too can be mirrors of love and creativity for all as well. If it feels right, we know. I’m proud of creating content that shows imagination, inspiration, and unity.
In terms of finding the time to create my content, I just have to make time. If this means waking up earlier than usual or staying in on a Saturday night, then that’s what I’ll do.
With as much traveling as you do for work, how do you find the balance to really enjoy the culture and locations around the world that you visit? And do you find time to put the camera down and just be in the moment?
I’m a firm believer in “living in the moment,” no matter where in the world I am. I understand that usually when traveling it’s for work and we have a project/assignment that needs to be completed by a given deadline. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t take advantage of your surroundings. In the mornings before we begin work, I always meditate to get myself in the right state of mind and make myself “present.” Afterwards I like to walk around and explore my local surroundings. This also helps boost my creativity since you can find inspiration anywhere, especially in unfamiliar or new locations.
Here’s another example. One time in Dubai we were scheduled to go on a helicopter tour after filming (me, Usher, and a prince of Dubai who invited Usher to perform at this music festival) and on the drive over Usher kept teasing me saying we were going skydiving (he knew I was afraid of heights at the time.) I kept saying I would stay in the car if so, until he finally said he was just joking with me. When we arrived at the helicopter facility, the prince hadn’t arrived yet and the pilot said in broken English, “This is where we also do skydive Dubai” which is a famous skydiving event. Usher didn’t fully understand and replied with, “I’ve always wanted to go skydiving” to which the pilot replied with “Okay, you’ll go skydiving!”. They began to harness him into a parachute, when Usher looked over at me, and with his eyes basically said, “I’m not doing this alone.” I smiled and said “Okay, let’s do it”. We ended up jumping out of a helicopter at close to 12,000 feet and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Fear is just the unknown waiting to be turned into love. I was so happy to have stepped out of my comfort zone that day and take advantage of the down time we had.
As of August 28th, the following 8 episodes have yet to air. Subscribe to Adorama TV on YouTube to be notified when each episode goes live.
Simple is a good way to describe Minh T’s style. Leading lines, shapes and perfect symmetry give way to white spaces and long shadows, conveying a sense of wandering through a dream. His scenes have been well received by his fans and media alike, landing Minh T on countless ‘Who to Follow’ lists, including the award for ‘Best Individual Instagram’ by Surface.
Lauren Naylor’s photography journey has taken her coast to coast, from her home in Florida to Portland then to New York and lastly, Los Angeles after she realized NYC has some cold winters. Naylor’s work usually includes models who fit perfectly into the sometimes otherworldly scenes that she is drawn to. In addition to her photography work, Naylor has founded Supervirgo, a collective of Los Angeles based female creatives.
Your portrait work is beautiful and has a unique vintage feel and color tone in often otherworldly landscapes. What is it about these desert like environments that fuels your creativity?
I think the dream-like quality found in desolate, unique environments—like the desert landscapes in California—really help to bring my more ‘altered reality’ concepts come to life. I’ve always been attracted to nature and the outdoors since I was a little kid. So it feels really natural to have it be such a significant part of my photographs. There is a time and place for studio shots, but for me a landscape and all its interesting forms takes the imagery to a deeper level.
You founded a collective of female creatives called Supervirgo. What was the inspiration behind this and where would you like to see this creative be in 5, 10 years?
The idea for a community of creatives had been floating around in my brain for years. After talking to other women in leading creative roles, and facing some of my own frustrations coming from being a female photographer in an industry that’s primarily dominated by males here in LA—I made the decision to start acting to create a supportive collective here. The goal is to help balance out some of the unfair standards that have been set for years regarding preconceived notions on what kind of jobs and rank each gender is supposed to have. We don’t want domination, and we don’t want the advantage because we’re female—we just want to be on an equal playing field. Times are changing in favor of this, and I am so excited for what’s to come! I hope in 5, 10 years Supervirgo grows beyond LA to areas all over the world. More importantly on a micro-level, I hope it helps to empower talented females to lead, and in turn those women help other women to do the same.
Besides having one of the photography industry’s most incredible heads of hair, the Venezuela born photographer moved to New Jersey when he was 14 when he also found his love for photography. Street photography, cityscapes and aerial photography are Silva’s passion, but lately, he has also become a force in the live music scene as well, capturing unreal photos at some of the country’s biggest music festivals and shows.
Most of photographer and filmmaker Eric Rubens work could simply be described as ‘paradise.’ The California-based creative is drawn to the ocean and beaches, capturing breathtaking sunsets, surfers, and idyllic beach scenes. He has accumulated almost 400k followers on Instagram, proving that warm tones and beautiful beach scenes is what most people want to be daydreaming of.
Your Instagram feed is full of bright, warm, tropical scenes. What is it about these warm destinations that is so appealing to you?
I’ve always associated the beach with warmth, sunlight, and joy so I try to convey that through my pictures and video. When I was working as an engineer, I’d always day dream of tropical destinations and found a lot of peace when viewing a dreamy scene. I came to the realization that something as simple as a picture and video has the power to relax and inspire someone you’ve never met. When Instagram first came out, I thought it was so cool that I could share a beach picture of my home and someone on the other side of the world would see it and comment about it. That’s one of the biggest factors that motivated me daily to go out and share the place I call home.
You often come back from trips with a full video along with tons of photos. Do you ever find time to put the camera down and enjoy the moment? How do those moments help inspire your creativity when you do pick up the camera again?
I often shoot a ton of photo and video on trips but I really enjoy what I do so it rarely feels like work. I think the other side of photography (organizing content, editing, running a business, etc) is a little more draining so I try to stick to just shooting when I’m on trips. I can always go back and edit later down the road but I try to capture as much as I can on a trip so I have more to work with. I find some opportunities to put the camera down, but like I said, even with a camera in my hand I’m still having a great time!
London photographer Tobi Shinobi came from a background you wouldn’t expect from a full time, successful photographer. Shinobi was a young lawyer when he became an early adaptor to Instagram, and his work was quickly noticed. He was featured by Instagram numerous times, helping him amass 140k followers, which eventually led to his change of career. Shinobi has put down his law books and picked up a camera, and all of us who follow him are grateful that he did.
You portfolio is a mix of moody urban photos, architecture, aerial, and the occasional nature capture. Which of these genres are you most attracted to and why?
I would say first and foremost I really appreciate stunning visuals. So anything that catches my eye will be considered for photo or video. I very much appreciate architecture from a design perspective, I grew up in the city and shot what was around me and available. I’ve always been obsessed with balance and my mother was an engineer so I grew up seeing technical drawings and it just kinda stuck.
Having said all that I love nature for its sheer diversity in terms of color, texture and sense of awe, especially when as a photographer you are physically placed in a location that is so huge, vast or impressive that you are humbled. My background in law taught me to consider many perspectives and this is something I consider when taking shots, whether nature or urban. Aerial photography allows me to gain a newer perspective and really enjoy exploring my surroundings from that point of view.
In all of your travels, which location do you feel you felt the most inspired to capture and share the scenes in front of you?
Ah, that’s a difficult question, I have been to so many places and each of them brings something different. There’s always something to find and even when it might seem like there’s not I love the challenge of finding something new. I really enjoy the hunt. I feel that’s often lost on some people on social media. They want to know where the location is but they don’t want to put in any work to find it and you don’t value anything you don’t have to work for.
What is the #1 location on your travel bucket list right now?
One? Man, I wish it was just one. I have a few places that I’d love to visit:
Thailand, China, Russia, Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore and Australia just off the top of my head, so if you know anyone who wants some beautiful shots of their city let me know…
Puerto Rican born Paola Franqui has an incredible way of capturing fleeting moments. Whether it’s a couple sharing a moment in front of Big Ben or a kiss on a bridge in Venice, Franqui sees these moments and makes sure to act fast before the moment is gone. But perhaps where her work shows the most heart is when she returned to Puerto Rico just two months after Hurricane Maria. The images show damage and destruction, but also courage and fight from the residents who refused to be knocked down.
You seem to really love to capture the fleeting moments of daily life on the street. What is it about these seemingly non-descript moments that draws you in?
To me, showcasing human emotion and capturing organic moments are two of the things that make me love street photography. You walk around and see people every day, but you don’t know what they are going through, you don’t know what they are feeling. In my eyes, if I see a subject and take a photo, I want the viewer to imagine what it felt like being at that moment when I took the photo. There’s nothing more beautiful than capturing moments that will never happen again.
While it may be an impossible question to answer, which city has been your favorite street photography subject?
Cuba is truly a street photography paradise. In the streets, people have their heads up, ready and willing to engage with the world and the people around them. Cuba may be one of my favorite destinations ever. I can’t wait to go back!
Out of all of the characters that you have met photographing on the streets, who is the one that still sticks in your mind almost daily?
I have to go back to Cuba on this one. Last year, I was taking a break from a long day of shooting when I saw an older man sitting by himself. He looked so sad and lonely that I decided to walk up to him and sat next to him. I began by saying hello and he immediately welcomed me with a smile. We had the most beautiful and honest conversation. He is someone that I will never forget. Before parting ways, I took his portrait and I too, smiled back. I will treasure that moment forever and I’m so happy I was able to take his portrait.
Steve Gindler loves abandon locations, especially if he can add a little mystery to it. Gindler often takes models into these forgotten buildings, setting up images that will often leave you speechless.
New Jersey has the unfortunate label of ‘most moved out state.’ While this may not be good for the economy, it seems to leave you with plenty of abandon locations to create your art. What is it about abandon buildings that you feel works so well for the style of photography that you have your models in?
The images that I seek to create are ones that express the frailty of humankind and our physical existence. The rotting structures, abandoned homes, and other derelict locales depicted in my imagery allow the audience to feel a sense of discomfort about their own mortality, when viewing a once-adorned home that was at a time filled with families, love, and joy. When these places that we associate with comfort, a feeling of roots, the mental idea of a “home” are displayed in an abandoned and forgotten way, the viewer is able to imagine his or herself abandoned physically as well as emotionally. Seeing certain material things that we human beings own covered in dust and rotting is a love letter to how we can feel anxious, alone, and thrown away.
Have you ever gotten into serious trouble for your abandon exploration and photo shoots? Was there any experience that got your heart pounding?
I’ve had a few trespassing tickets and court visits, but most were dropped when I was able to simply explain that I was only trying to preserve the structures with my photography. The most terrifying experience, however, did not come from our boys in blue. I was with a friends in upstate New York exploring an abandoned hotel when I turned a corner to an older gentleman yelling at me in broken English, full of expletives and threats. He stated that he had a gun on him and was ready to shoot if we did not leave immediately. I ran faster than I ever have before, and hopped through a window that was adorned with broken glass. I still don’t know if this man actually had a gun on his person, or if it was just a scare tactic, but it certainly worked as intended.
Dan Marker-Moore was always more than a photographer. For a decade, he was a animator/motion graphics artist before finding his passion for photography in Los Angeles. His background mostly shows in his stunning ‘time slices’ series which combines hours worth of images to create a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors and changing light.