Interview: Tyler Sartor
Rucksack Magazine has recently had the honour of working with the extremely talented landscape and lifestyle photographer Tyler Sartor. His incredible work has recently featured on Rucksack Magazine's online journal in the form of two photo essays on Yosemite and Oregon. Tyler, who is based in Seattle, WA stated that he "hopes to create memories that will last a lifetime" through his photography. In this fascinating interview, we spoke in depth with Tyler about his work, his inspirations, his camera gear, his advice to other photographers and much more. Make sure you check out his full portfolio at www.tylersartor.com and follow his Instagram @tysartor. >>>
Photography by Tyler Sartor
Rucksack Magazine: Can you tell us about your background and how you got into photography?
Tyler Sartor: I’m a computer technician from Seattle, WA and a self-taught photographer. My work for non-profit organizations sparked my interest in art like photography, videography, and design. I was always afraid to share my work and what people might think of me. This effected more than just my art. In January of 2016 I made up my mind that I was no longer going to be afraid of what others thought of me. My mantra for life became “Go for it.” So I bought a camera and instantly fell in love with it. The thought of pausing a moment that will live on forever excites me.
RM: What kind of projects have you completed?
TS: Most of my work stems from personal projects. I also shoot weddings and portraits for local clients and businesses. An overwhelming amount of people have asked how they could put my work up in their homes. So recently, I opened a print shop on my website.
RM: What is your favourite travel destination?
TS: Yosemite National Park is easily my favorite destination. I recently went on a spontaneous road trip there with my brother. We were captivated by the vast landscape and untouched nature. It has a special place in my heart.
RM: What is your favourite location to shoot?
TS: Anywhere with a moody climate. I love shooting in the stormy and gloomy weather but the mountains make me the happiest. Being from the Pacific Northwest has heavily influenced the aesthetics of my photos.
RM: What is your favourite style of photography?
TS: I don’t think I have a favorite style. My style is constantly changing and evolving into something new. While most of my work consists of nature, I really enjoy shooting lifestyle and portraits. Currently I’m really in to muted earth tones. Often I’ll shoot for a moody and underexposed look. I like to add people in to the shot for scale. Seeing how small someone looks compared to the landscape around them really puts things in perspective.
RM: Which images would you say have been the most significant?
TS: I took a photo of St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon that received a lot of notoriety locally. That photo helped me feel like I could do this for a living. The photos I took of Yosemite are very meaningful to me. I was facing a lot of adversity and stress at the time and going there had been a dream of mine. The personal connection I feel to each one of those photos has not been duplicated in any of my other work.
RM: Instagram has become a valuable tool for photographers; how would you say social media contributes to your work?
TS: Social media has been the major contributor to my work. I would not be where I am without it. Instagram has literally changed my life. The photography community on Instagram is healthy. Everyone is so encouraging and close-knit. It’s quite amazing actually. The people I’ve met through Instagram have, without a doubt, made me a much better photographer. I owe a lot to them.
RM: What are your future travel plans?
TS: I know everyone says this but I really would love to go to Iceland. Other than that, Finland, Norway, Italy, and New Zealand are pretty high up on my dream board.. In the United States, Utah would be a lot of fun. >>>
RM: What camera do you use?
TS: I use a Canon 5d Mark III with 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 28-135mm lenses. I recently wanted to challenge myself to shoot more film. I shoot with a Pentax K1000. Occasionally I use my iPhone.
RM: Which is your favourite lens?
TS: My favorite lens has to be my 35mm. I love the realistic feel it gives a photo. It’s not too wide and not too telephoto. Plus it’s really sharp.
RM: What is your favourite gadget or must have adventure accessory.
TS: My journal. I love to document not just with photos but with words. I take it with me on every adventure and make it a point to put down the camera, enjoy the nature, and just write what I’m feeling at the time. It’s very therapeutic for me.
RM: What kind of tools do you use for post processing?
TS: Adobe Lightroom for 95% of my work. I use Photoshop occasionally if there’s a task I can’t complete in Lightroom. On my iPhone I’ll use apps like Lightroom Mobile, VSCO, Filmborn, Snapseed, and Afterlight. >>>
RM: How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
TS: I’m somewhat of a photography nerd. Youtube has helped with that. I've watched hours of tutorials online. It’s amazing what you can learn for free online. I read a lot of books and scroll through Instagram a ton. But the very best way to take better photos is to just go out and shoot. I make it a point to shoot every single day, even if it’s in my backyard. You learn the most that way.
RM: Whose work has influenced you the most?
TS: So many people have influenced my work, it’s tough to name them all. I draw a lot of inspiration from Andrew Kearns (@andrewtkearns), Dan Tom (@dantom), Joe Greer (@ioegreer), Sam Elkins (@samuelelkins), and so many more.
RM: What advice would you give to another photographer?
TS: The same advice that inspired me to start taking pictures; Go for it. Grab your camera, doesn’t matter what kind it is, and go take pictures. Don’t worry what other’s think of them. Go take photos for you. Fail and learn from those failures. Create your own style and aesthetic. Be intentional with your photos and look at things differently than others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from your favorite photographers, they’ll likely be very supportive of you. And most importantly, be yourself. Be inspired by others and see where it takes you. If there’s anything I can do to help, please reach out. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.