A Day In The Life Of Kevin Kuster – Former Senior Playboy Photographer Reveals All (almost)!

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Welcome to our very exciting column on theappwhisperer.com. This section entitled ‘A day in the life of …’ and this is where we take a look at some hugely influential, interesting and accomplished individuals in the mobile photography world. People that we think you will love to learn more about.

This is our fifty ninth installment of the series, you can read the others here, if you have missed them so far. Today, we are featuring Kevin Kuster a former senior and very talented Playboy photographer. Kevin reached out to us a short time ago (see here), we were so touched by his compliments and of course very intrigued to learn more about him and his life, that we invited him to take part in our very popular A Day In The Life series. We’re so pleased we did, Kevin is nothing short of incredible and oh so inspiring.

Kevin was the Senior Photography Editor for Playboy magazine for over 18 years but despite that excitement, he confesses he is more exhilarated about photography than he has ever been, since he discovered mobile photography. Kevin believes that just the way digital cameras changed photography in the early 90′s, mobile photography is completely changing all photography, however, on a quicker and global scale, we couldn’t agree more.

You can find all the links to the apps mentioned at the end of this article.

(If you would like to be interviewed for our new ‘A day in the life of …’ section, just send an email to Joanne@theappwhisperer.com, and we’ll get it set up.)

 

Kevin Kuster

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First Things First

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Corner of Red and Green’ – Slow Camera, Snapseed, iwatermark

 

Joanne – Let’s start at the beginning of the day, how does your day start?

Kevin – It depends on if I’m working for a client that day or not. If I’m working for a client, and we are shooting natural light, I am usually up before the sun rises. If it’s a non-client shooting day, I start by reviewing Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I know I will seem a little out of touch, however, I just started using social media less than a year ago and can’t believe it took me so long to embrace it again. I had a MySpace account years ago when I was the Senior Photography Editor for Playboy Magazine, however, it got overwhelming with hundreds of communications a day and people really got upset when I didn’t respond right away. My attitude towards social media completely changed since I embraced mobile photography. I am also in the process of opening up a photo studio and art gallery west of Chicago called called Creator Gallery. We plan to use a lot of social media to expand our business and educate people on our company and teach mobile photography classes.

Magic Hour

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘D-day on North Ave’ – HDR pro, Snapseed, Phonto, iwatermark

 

Joanne – Do you like to head out and take photographs early on?

Kevin – I rarely get up just to go out and shoot images, however, since embracing mobile photography I am always aware that I have an opportunity to take a picture whenever, wherever. I find this new ability and ease of shooting photographs simply amazing!

Photographer vs Mobile Photographer

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Divorce’ – 645 PRO, Filter-storm, Retouch

 

Joanne – How did the transition from traditional photographer to iPhoneographer develop? (pardon the pun).

Kevin – I don’t think it’s a complete transition, I think it’s more like I realize I have another tool at my disposal. Both mediums have the ability to tell stories in different ways. However, with that being said, 95% of all my personal photography is mobile photography. Keep that statistic quiet since I don’t want to make my DSLR mad.

New Apps

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Early morning run’ – Camera+, Snapseed, ScratchCam, Low-Mob, iwatermark

 

Joanne – Do you like to download new iPhoneography apps regularly?

Kevin – Yes. I’m always downloading and trying to learn. Some apps I download and I don’t use until I read or see how someone else used them. I work really spontaneously when layering apps so some times, I will just open a new app and start working a picture. Although I love this way of working, I often forget how I achieved a particular look when I want to repeat it on a future image.

Updates

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Ethan’ – Hipstamatic (John S lens and Claunch 72 Monochrome), Snapseed, iwatermark, Instagram (Eary morning filter)

 

Joanne – How often do you update your existing apps?

Kevin – Whenever I see new updates, I download them right away. I feel like a kid on Christmas that gets an extra present when I’m updating them .

Location, Location, Location

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Feeling Blue’ – Hipstamatic (John S. Lens, Big Up film), iwatermark

 

Joanne – Where’s your favorite place in the world for a shoot?

Kevin – I love shooting in the Caribbean. The combination of light, water, beaches and people makes for an amazing place to shoot images. Haven’t been there with my iPhone yet, so if anyone wants to hire me, my passport is ready to roll.

Tools Of The Trade

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Head to the light’ – iPhone camera, Filter-storm

 

Joanne – Do you also use iPhone photography tool apps, such as The Photographer’s Ephemeris and if so do you use it to plan your shoots?

Kevin – I just read about this on the App Whisperer the other day. Haven’t used it but, I plan on downloading it. I will play with it and if it works, keep using it, that’s what I tend to do with new all new things.

Favorite Apps

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Last Stop’ – Camera Awesome, Snapseed

 

Joanne – What are your favorite, at the moment, iPhoneography apps?

Kevin – Camera Awesome, Hipstamatic, 645 pro, HDR pro, Camera plus, Snapseed, Noir, Filterstorm, VSCO cam, ScratchCam, Lo-Mob, Phonto, iWatermark, Retouch, Infinicam, Pixlromatic, ChipPhoto, Diptic, Magic Hour.

Sharing

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Life Grows in the harshest environments’ – iPhone camera, Snapseed, Camera Awesome, iwatermark

 

Joanne – Where do you like to upload your photographs? Flickr, Instagram?

Kevin – Instagram,Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. Most of my posting begins on Instgram and feeds into the other sites.

Frequency

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Monster Behind the door’ – Hipstamatic (John S lens and Crunch 72 film), iwatermark

 

Joanne – Do you take photographs with your iPhone everyday?

Kevin – Yes, I try to take images every day now. This is really new for me and is only because of the iPhone 4s camera. I had a 3Gs and only took a handful of images with it. Recently, I was asked to be the Chief Editor for @joshjohnson (tag #jj) so currently, I am reviewing over 10,000 plus images every day and am highlighting some of the best selects for our 190,000 members. In my humble opinion, Josh Johnson has created the best photographic community on Instagram and I am so proud to be a part of his core team. I really see our #jj community as the tip of the spear when it comes to the future of mobile photography and how people share their images. We are also working on a new way for our #jj members and community to share, learn and monazite their photography and talents. I see this as a very exciting time for mobile photography and the photography in general.

Favorite Subjects

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘One Second behind’ -Hipstamatic (John S lens and Claunch 72 Monochrome), Snapseed, Retouch, iwatermark

 

Joanne – What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

Kevin – I wish I could answer this question better, however, I just like taking pictures. If I had to choose just one subject, I guess it would be people. It’s great to capture a real portrait that looks honest and authentic.

Top Five Tips

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Avery’ – Hipstamatic, Lucifer VI lens, Ina’s 1969 film

 

Joanne – What are your top five tips for iPhone photography?

Kevin – #1 Always be shooting. Actors need to act, painters need to paint, chefs need to cook and photographers need to shoot photos. #2. Be a strong editor even if it’s just your personal images be a good editor. Only show people your absolute best work. I once heard the saying that professionals just edit out their bad images, amateurs show theirs. #3. Study other photographers whose work you like and let their approach influence your work. #4. Study classic painters. A great photographer I worked with taught me this lesson because it’s a wonderful way to learn how to read light and how it affects subjects and people. #5. Share your work with people you admire and ask for their honest feedback. Get involved with a group that loves photography so you can learn and socialize. I just joined an instagram group in my hometown @igerschicago and it’s been a great experience. If you don’t have a group in your area, start one…trust me you’re qualified. Woody Allen once said “80% of success is just showing up.”

Teaching

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Small boy, Big City’ – Camera+, Snapseed, Retouch, iwatermark

 

Joanne – How did the teaching side come along?

Kevin – I have always enjoyed sharing and teaching others. Photographers can be very competitive, however, the photographers that I worked with and admired the most at Playboy were always gracious with their knowledge. I believe a person that has an attitude of teaching and sharing conveys great confidence in one’s own talents.

Editing

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Smiling Jack’ – Hipstamatic (John S lens and Claunch 72 Monochrome)

 

Joanne – Do you edit images on your iPhone or do you prefer to do that on a desktop/laptop?

Kevin – I edit only on my iPhone and I love it. Being able to manipulate an image right away and with my fingertips reminds me of being back in the dark room. Oftentimes I will shoot something, start playing with it right on location and as I play with it, I am encouraged to shoot from a different perspective. Now if only someone would invent an app that makes my iPhone smell like a darkroom! Ahhhhh the smell of fixer in the morning!

Videography

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Snow Day’ -Hipstamatic, Lucifer VI lens, BlacKeys B+W film

 

Joanne – Do you enjoy videography with your iPhone?

Kevin – Yes. I believe video on the iPhone has not been embraced as much as it will be, however, I know someday someone will win an Oscar for a movie they shot on their iPhone. For now, people are still a little intimidated by the editing process and sound is a big technical issue.

The Future Of Mobile Photography

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘The long draw’ – Hipstamatic (John S lens and Claunch 72 Monochrome), Snapseed, iwatermark, Instgram filter Claunch

 

Joanne – Where do you see the future of iPhone photography?

Kevin – iPhoneography is a huge part of photography on every level and will continue to expand its roll. Camera phones are only going to get better and better and have more and more capabilities. Do I think DS LR cameras will be replaced completely, no. However, a professional photographer rejecting a mobile phone camera is like a painter rejecting a pencil. I just finished photographing and designing my first book completely shot with an iPhone called Under the Umbrella of the Cross. The printed images are amazing and I don’t believe anyone would know it was shot completely with a mobile phone. As camera phones get better and better you will see more and more publishers, advertising agencies and newspapers using mobile images professionally.

Popularity

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Tonight we Bowl’ – iPhone camera, ScratchCam, Photo shot express, Square-ready

 

Joanne – What do you think is the most popular area of iPhone photography?

Kevin – I believe iPhoneography has had a huge influence in all areas of photography, however, personally since I have embraced mobile photography, I have been introduced to more street photography than ever before. The images that photographers like Richard Koci Hernandez (instgram username @koci) are creating are simply inspiring. Richard’s classes on cell phone photography at the 1197 conference are what actually inspired me to try cell phone photography. Thanks again, Richard!

Joanne – Richard is great, we recently interviewed him in our A Day In the Life interview, here, and also our Extension of the I interview, see here.

Worldwide Phenomena?

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Two week notice’ – Hipstamatic, (Watts lens, Pistil film), iwatermark

 

Joanne – Do you think it’s country specific, are some nations more clued up?

Kevin – That’s a very interesting question and I’m not sure I’m educated enough to give you a great answer. However, I love being introduced to photographers outside of the US to explore their feeds and see who they are following in their native country. One country that seems to be rocking with cellphone photography is Finland. In November, I am flying to Brazil for an international mobile photography conference. I am so excited to meet all the amazing photographers I have been introduced to so far since the event has been announced. Both Josh Johnson (@joshjohnson) and I are traveling to the event and will be speaking and presenting about mobile photography and it’s global influence on photography and peoples lives.

iPhone 5

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Under the Umbrella’ – HDR pro, Snapseed, iwatermark

 

Joanne – What did you hope for in the iPhone 5?

Kevin – I hoped the iPhone 5 will allow you to select your aperture and shutter speed. If I could dream really big, it would be the ability to adapt professional lenses. Then if I could dream even bigger, it would be that someone would manufacture professional, fast lenses that are the size of your thumb or smaller to fit the iPhone 5. Hey, a guy can dream

TheAppWhisperer.com

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘Water boy’ – Camera Awesome, Snapseed, iwatermark

 

Joanne – What do you think of Joanne and theappwhisperer.com?

Kevin – Joanne has been like Obi One Kenobi to me and theappwhisperer.com site is the FORCE!

Joanne – I Love it, Kevin.

Bonus Question

Joanne – Since photo editors always have opinions on photographers and their work, do you follow photographers on Instagram who you think are really strong and would hire?

Kevin – Yes, if I were working at a magazine again and given the right assignment, I would hire anyone of the following photographers depending on what the job required; Cole Rise (@colerise) would be great for a travel feature or a lifestyle shooting. I would hire Theron Humphrey (@thiswildidea) or Jeremey Cowart (@jeremycowart) for any celebrity interview or article. Theron brings such great humor to his photography and Jeremy has such an art directors eye with his photography. Christian J. Sweet (@christianjsweet) would be amazing for any editorial article illustration. Christian is a master story teller. For men’s fashion I would hire Mal Sherlock (@fashion) and women’s fashion I would hire Ella Uzan, (@ellauz) both have totally different styles, but I think both are wonderful photographers. If I ever needed a child celebrity photographed, I would completely hire Anje Marie Bridge (@anjemarie) or Adam Smith (@adamjoelsmith.) I would assign Darren Hudson (@thehudson) to shoot covers. Not only is Darren a great photographer, but he has a great sense of typography design and usage. And finally, I would just hire Jason Peterson (@jasonmpeterson) and ask him what he wanted to photograph and just find a place to publish it.

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49 thoughts on “A Day In The Life Of Kevin Kuster – Former Senior Playboy Photographer Reveals All (almost)!

  1. Fantastic interview! yes…the smell of fixer in the morning…particularly early morning…nothing like it. I can so relate!!! Marvelous imagery!! Thanks Kevin…and Joanne…for posting this interview!!!

  2. I’m a big fan of all things Kevin Kuster. 😉 This is a fantastic interview Joanne, you asked the questions I wanted to know! Thanks so much!

  3. Joanne,

    Kevin, from this interview, seems like the real deal. Reminds me little of Zack Arias. Personable.

    On lenses for the iphone: I agree, if there was a way to create micro fast glass that could over ride the iphone/ipad/ipod touch camera, Wow!

    Going to look up finnish iphonographers now. Then off to find what is happening in Brazil.

    Great piece

    Be well

    Laurence

  4. What a cool guy, his work is both down to earth and intriguing to view. I will look forward to seeing his mobile photography journey.

  5. Great interview and I agree with so much that has been said. Like Kevin I hardly use my DSLR nowadays except for customers portrait shoots or a wedding, although I do some pics on the iPhone too. I may never win an Oscar as I am not a Film maker but I am the first person anywhere (to the best of my knowledge) to be awarded a Fellowship by the British Inst.of Professional Photographers for a panel of iPhone images. To me this legitimises the images we all shoot with our iPhones when a major British professional photographic body accepts iPhone images for what they are and not what they were taken with. Thanks for the interview Kevin.

  6. Always knew you were an amazing editor and photographer but your drive to learn and break barriers is inspiring. I haven’t seen all of these and I was blown away by these images. Thank Kevin

  7. Great interview, Kevin and Joanne! As you may know, I’m on temporary leave from IG, but I hope to be back soon. (My IG name is @robinko.) When I do, I’ll make it a point to try out some of these apps!! Keep up the great work, both of you!

  8. What a great interview and excellent selection of pictures showcased by Kevin here! He is by far one of my favorite IGers. Can’t wait for his book. I absolutely loved this: ” I believe a person that has an attitude of teaching and sharing conveys great confidence in one’s own talents”. Well said.

  9. That is a super interview. Great questions and really thoughtful interesting – and inspiring – answers. What a nice guy. And the pictures – absolutely wonderful!
    Thank you so much for that Joanne, really made my day.

  10. After working in the photography business for over 40 years, it is refreshing to see someone so completely excited about what is obviously a revolutionary development in creating images. Both interviewer and interviewee were terrific.

  11. I have been following Kevin through the #JJ community for awhile now. His words and images always inspire and this interview did a wonderful job of showing the man behind the inspiration.

    Added bonus: I had not heard of this blog before this interview. I have been reading past posts the last couple days and I am hooked now. Thank you for creating such a wonderful resource, Joanne.

  12. I absolutely love this interview!!! Thank you Kevin for allowing us an insight to what mobile photography is to Kevin and who Kevin is 😉

  13. Great interview Joanne! Kevin- Thanks for all the insights, tips & app recommendations. Love the photos, looking forward to your book.

  14. Well jj sent me here…it is a great place to find new people,styles,ideas,opinions,apps….igers like joshjohnson and his editors encourage people to take more and more pics….I’am proud to be part if this community.

  15. Great to know a little more about Kevin. He has made a wonderful contribution to the tag jj community as chief editor.

  16. Being a part of the @joshjohnson editing crew in the #jj_community is an honor…Kevin is a huge inspiration both as an editor and photographer..he can take the mundane and make it beautiful.. I saw Josh’s post about Kevin’s interview here and hopped right over. He’s an inspiration to ALL of us editors and does an amazing job as a #jj leading editor. Huge fan. Great interview!

  17. Really enjoyed this interview – thank you! I’ve been an avid amateur photographer all my life and have have just recently found Instagram (#ttcurls) as a GREAT way to share my gallery of photos with others who have a passion for photography, also! It’s great to connect with people from all over the world and see their part of life – through their photos!

  18. This was a great interview of Kevin Kuster. I will be re-reading this interviewing because it is so inspiring for people like myself. Kevin is a person that I am becoming more acquainted with since he became Chief Editor for Josh Johnson at Instagram. I have learned so much from him and the work he has done within the JJ Community and on his website thus far. His experience is helping me crystallize my endeavor as an interning editor for Josh Johnson. Now I am a fan of the App Whisperer. Great piece! Thanks again, Joanne. This interview is an inspiration above and beyond. Way to go Kevin! #jj sent me

  19. I forgot to let you know (in the comment I just posted above!) that #JJ sent me! I’m really enjoying getting to know the #JJ community on Instagram – thank you for highlighting mobile photography in this interview. SO very interesting!

  20. Fantastic article!! So great to learn more about Kevin, he’s such a big part of the fantastic JJ community. “Ah, the smell of fixer in the morning”. Love it!!

  21. Super interview, great app tips and a fabulous selection of images (especially the portraits: “Avery” – wow!!).

    I’m a huge fan of the priceless work Kevin, Josh Johnson and the rest of the #jj team do on instagram. It’s an exciting, inspiring and inclusive project – even for people me, simply a mum with an iphone.

    Go Kevin!

  22. #jj sent me…:-)
    proud to be part of a community like this one: Creative, giving, supportive, inspiring!
    really enjoyed this interview and getting to know more about @kevinkuster!

  23. Amazing interview, thank you Kevin for all the tips and the great job you are doing on the fantastic JJ community… You rock, man… #jj sent me

  24. Thank you so much for offer the insights of such a talented, experienced photographer forging the way in iPhotography! This was a really informative and valuable interview – great tips on best practices, apps and other photographers.

  25. Great interview Joanne and Kevin. Part of what I love about instagram is how it brings photographers of all kinds together and I’ve learned a lot as a newbie. I only started iphoneography this year, instantly became addicted to instagram and have been a follower of the #JJ community for much of that time. The instanteousness of mobile photograpy is what drew me to the medium, being able to take a pick, edit it on the go and share is what I really love about it.

  26. As a member of the #jj community on IG, I am familiar with Kevin and have seen a number of these great photos come across his IG feed. It is a treat to learn more about AND from him through this fine interview!  I can’t wait to sample a few of the apps listed here.

    This blog is new to me… Planning to check out more.

    – @stephaniec0331

  27. Thanks for the great interview. I love learning about new techniques in the mobile photography world and to learn about the driving forces behind #jj community and IG. I’m new to all of it and I love how my photography eye has expanded as now I walk around seeing even more of the precious things in life. Thanks for great insight and look forward to learning so much from the pros!

    @ellibellyster

  28. Great article and amazing photos! We love Kevin over at the #JJ forum. He may have been late in getting on the Instagram train, but he’s already taken on a huge role. I think that Josh Johnson’s JJ forum IS Instagram and is the future of mobile photo sharing, and Kevin is a big part of that now!

  29. Oh big thanks to Kevin Kuster for sharing this interview on his Instagram feed! This interview and feature about him lets me know him more! And I’m even a bigger fan of his! Plus bumping into this website gives me a lot of chance to learn more about mobile photography. Great job, Joanne!

  30. Very inspiring & helpful stuff here. Great interview! Kevin, your photos are amazing and always a pleasure to my eyes. To shoot for Playboyvon such a boss level is even more awesomeness…yes i am a girl and have had a subscription for years. The pictorials are classy and great. Im sure you are missed! Glad to have you @JJ 🙂

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