Based in Seattle, USA, Andrew Kearns quit his day job to devote his time and energy 24/7 to photographing beautifully moody landscapes and portraits. He believes that’s what life should be and is constantly stoked with what he discovers. Hard to argue with that, we feel. An avid reader, wise at his age (just 21), Andrew’s work is mature but with a touch of freshness and innocence. Its a winning mix.
1. Why do you make images?
I used to do it for fun, just run around and take a few cool pictures in some rad places, but over time it's become so much more than that. I mean, it's the typical answer but it's true; I make images because I want to display a mood, and have the person feel that mood. Wether it's a portrait of someone, or a grand expanse of land, I want to display a certain mood and make it apparent to the viewer.
2. What do they mean to you?
They mean a lot to me. First off, they have provided me with enough to live a very free lifestyle, and constantly experience amazing places. I love my job, it's not even a job. When I'm working, I'm shooting and editing, when I'm not working, I'm shooting and editing. Like come on, that's the dream. I wouldn't trade that for anything. Second, they have become so much more than an Instagram post or a "hey guys look at the cool thing I did." It's a whole mess of 10-20mb memories. I look back at them and recall a day I went out and had a great time with some rad people, or that storm that nearly blew us off the mountain. I love nostalgically looking back at images and remembering these times, and getting stoked to create more of memories.
3. What is life to you? What it should be?
Life to me is to always be stoked and chase your dreams. If you know your limit, you're doing it wrong; Push your limits further. Take risks, and put yourself in situations where you have no choice but to succeed, and you'll be astounded at what you're capable of. I quit my job this past January to pursue a career in photography and video. I had (and still have) no other option but to succeed, and I'm excelling beyond what I expected. Be devoted to your craft 24/7 and you'll be absolutely amazed at what happens. I'm stoked all the time, loving life more than ever, and doing what I love for work. That to me, is what life should be.
4. Where did you grow up and how did that play a part in your photography?
I grew up all over the place. I was born in Kentucky, lived there for 7 years, moved to Oregon for 4 years, Ohio for 1 year, Tennessee for 2, and have lived in three different places in Washington over the past 7 years now. Living in all those states and now Washington, I have a great respect for where I live. It's unfair how great Washington is. If it wasn't for Washington I honestly think I wouldn't have become a photographer, due to the people I have around me and the landscape that inspires me. I like the fact I lived everywhere else before, because I can't express how much I appreciate where I live and how easy it makes my job.
5. There are a lot of professions out there - why be a photographer?
It's never the same, and I get to be creative with whatever I'm doing. I'm always meeting new people, making new friends, and taking pictures of them. It's so rad! It's not for everyone, but I love it so much.
6. What is your favorite non-photography pastime?
Hiking before I had a camera with me. I remember times where I didn't think to take a camera with me on hikes, and I just had my full focus on hanging out with friends and all the amazing landscape that surrounds me. It's hard to do that now, because I love to capture people in nature and the landscapes themselves, but sometimes it's nice to put the camera away.
7. What are you reading now?
Interview question #7..... haha dad joke. But really I kind of suck at reading. I just get way distracted and can't really grasp what I'm reading unless it's really intriguing. But I feel like a read the book Holes once a year, that's one of my favorites. I also will re-read To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, or Great Gatsby any day.
8. Are there any unseen experimental images in your attic you’d like to show us now?
Actually, not really. But I have soooo many ideas I want to try though. I just need models, and a day without anything planned, haha.
9. Who do you respect - in photography or elsewhere?
Most of all my Dad for supporting me in all of this. If it weren't for him saying "Go for it" I wouldn't have be doing what I'm doing. Photography wise, there's a lot of people. But to name some, Dave Sproul, Michael Ugrin, Nick Noren, Mitchell Weholt, Jeff Marsh, Sam Elkins, Brian Daughtry, Alex Strohl, Jared Chambers, and there's definitely some I'm forgetting. All of these folks are people I've looked up to, and have met in person. A few of them have been long time friends, a few I've met recently, and even become really close friends with some. But wether they are more or less known, they have all been so rad, down to earth folks. Their work, has constantly inspired me, and hanging out with them gets me stoked on shooting.
10. If you were to start all over again, is there anything you would do differently? Why?
Two things mainly. One I would have started off with only prime lenses. It's gonna be a better quality image, but also it teaches you to work within the limits of a single focal length. When I switched to only owning a 35mm for a time, I noticed my shot composition got a lot better, and I found when I was more limited I got more creative. And the second thing is seek out the people you look up to. They are usually super rad, and stoked on the same things you're stoked on. Most of the time they are willing to help out, and answer questions. Just get to know them, be cool, and become friends with them. When I started hanging with these people and surrounded myself with folks going after the same things as me, that's when I saw my work really starting to improve, and quickly. Oh and I guess a bonus starting out tip, dink around a lot in the programs you're using, never stop learning it. I still am discovering hidden gems in Lightroom.