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.)
First Things First
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.
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
© 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.
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.
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
© 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
© 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.
© 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.
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.
© 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.
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
© 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.”
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.
© 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!
© 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
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.
© 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!
© 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.
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
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.