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The DIOP Circle V.15

September 29th, 2019


Kyle Studstill

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we're grateful to share the work of Kyle Studstill. He likes the color palette of Pretty Little Birds and he's our 701st customer. He's going to tell us how his work sparked a new creative journey.

For a long time, I thought you had to be a certain kind of person to be a photographer.

And if you weren’t a hobbyist who’d just sell their camera on eBay a year or two later, you must be innately talented. It took me years to even start thinking that I could begin to take it seriously. Sometimes I’d take photos and people would tell me I’ve got some talent.

But as I’d look at the portfolios and work of people I considered to be “real” photographers, all I could think about was the level of commitment it took to get there.

The only reason I initially picked up a camera was to take photos for an ecommerce fashion brand I was trying to get off the ground. Just simple product photos, more functional than aspirational.

It wasn’t until I started working with a friend who was interested in modeling that photography opened up for me. We’d get together to bounce ideas off one another. We’d discuss what we liked, what we didn’t like, and what inspired us. As we grew excited creatively about taking our own photos, I began to think of photography as more than just a calling.

Professionally, my background is in marketing strategy. I’d work with clients, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, planning all sorts of campaigns to help them build their brands. And though they tried their best to be authentic, they could almost never execute on it.

I spend a lot of time in marketing talking about world building. The companies I admire have been “lifestyle” brands, in the sense that they build entire worlds to describe what they would say the life well-lived looks like. The product just happens to be one part of that world or one part of that life. It’s really hard to do that when working with brands that focus so much on just the product—and a lot of the Fortune 500s that only exist to sell products.

We all strive to find a place for our creativity. Part of what makes photography rewarding is the frustration that comes with clients whose brands who are less conducive as a creative outlet. It helps me remain attentive to the kind of art I want to put into the world.

I know it won’t make me rich or famous but thinking critically about where I my creative energy goes is fulfilling. It helps me assess how to be most productive. And even encourages me to approach marketing strategy with more diligence.

With images, you can express things that don’t require words—emotions that you want to feel longer. I like capturing those things that enrich our lives when we take the moment to just hold them. I do a lot of my work in the street, documentary style. Sometimes, I’ll email people I find on Craigslist and ask if I can show up where they are and take photos.

I’ve learned to search for stillness in my photoshoots because it can take a lot of time to find it. Logistically, reaching out to people and making the time for a shoot is the first challenge. Then, once you are in the same place, you still have to keep the shoot moving while staying open to the right moment—most moments are in fact fairly mundane, after all.

You have to look for the ones that you can romanticize. So I spend a lot of time clicking and re-clicking. Some moments naturally lend themselves to a beautiful photo but really the magic happens in editing. I’m a sort of backwards-looking photographer in that way; it’s only when I sort through the photos that I can really ask myself what I was trying to capture.

Learning to communicate the essence of something has gotten me more interested in poetry. I like writing that does things that images can’t. I’m still figuring out what it looks like to put the two together, but I’m starting to imagine poetry accompanying that is ephemeral and dreamy accompanying the visceral imagery of landscapes or places.

Most of what I’ve been writing is inspired by nature and I’m working to find a way to do that subject the justice it deserves in words and in photos.

When it comes to advice, I believe everything matters. When I reflect on where I’m at, I remember that I’m here because of what I did before. If I had done everything perfectly, without mistakes, I’d never be as considerate and thoughtful as I am now.

Mistakes are what make creative work powerful. That’s why my advice is to make mistakes worth talking about—part of the story that makes people want to be around your work. It’s important to fail, but you can do more. You can always make your failures interesting.


The DIOP Circle V.15

September 29th, 2019


Kyle Studstill

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we're grateful to share the work of Kyle Studstill. He likes the color palette of Pretty Little Birds and he's our 701st customer. He's going to tell us how his work sparked a new creative journey.

For a long time, I thought you had to be a certain kind of person to be a photographer.

And if you weren’t a hobbyist who’d just sell their camera on eBay a year or two later, you must be innately talented. It took me years to even start thinking that I could begin to take it seriously. Sometimes I’d take photos and people would tell me I’ve got some talent.

But as I’d look at the portfolios and work of people I considered to be “real” photographers, all I could think about was the level of commitment it took to get there.

The only reason I initially picked up a camera was to take photos for an ecommerce fashion brand I was trying to get off the ground. Just simple product photos, more functional than aspirational.

It wasn’t until I started working with a friend who was interested in modeling that photography opened up for me. We’d get together to bounce ideas off one another. We’d discuss what we liked, what we didn’t like, and what inspired us. As we grew excited creatively about taking our own photos, I began to think of photography as more than just a calling.

Professionally, my background is in marketing strategy. I’d work with clients, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, planning all sorts of campaigns to help them build their brands. And though they tried their best to be authentic, they could almost never execute on it.

I spend a lot of time in marketing talking about world building. The companies I admire have been “lifestyle” brands, in the sense that they build entire worlds to describe what they would say the life well-lived looks like. The product just happens to be one part of that world or one part of that life. It’s really hard to do that when working with brands that focus so much on just the product—and a lot of the Fortune 500s that only exist to sell products.

We all strive to find a place for our creativity. Part of what makes photography rewarding is the frustration that comes with clients whose brands who are less conducive as a creative outlet. It helps me remain attentive to the kind of art I want to put into the world. I know it won’t make me rich or famous but thinking critically about where I my creative energy goes is fulfilling. It helps me assess how to be most productive. And even encourages me to approach marketing strategy with more diligence.

With images, you can express things that don’t require words—emotions that you want to feel longer. I like capturing those things that enrich our lives when we take the moment to just hold them. I do a lot of my work in the street, documentary style. Sometimes, I’ll email people I find on Craigslist and ask if I can show up where they are and take photos.

I’ve learned to search for stillness in my photoshoots because it can take a lot of time to find it. Logistically, reaching out to people and making the time for a shoot is the first challenge. Then, once you are in the same place, you still have to keep the shoot moving while staying open to the right moment—most moments are in fact fairly mundane, after all.

You have to look for the ones that you can romanticize. So I spend a lot of time clicking and re-clicking. Some moments naturally lend themselves to a beautiful photo but really the magic happens in editing. I’m a sort of backwards-looking photographer in that way; it’s only when I sort through the photos that I can really ask myself what I was trying to capture.

Learning to communicate the essence of something has gotten me more interested in poetry. I like writing that does things that images can’t. I’m still figuring out what it looks like to put the two together, but I’m starting to imagine poetry accompanying that is ephemeral and dreamy accompanying the visceral imagery of landscapes or places.

Most of what I’ve been writing is inspired by nature and I’m working to find a way to do that subject the justice it deserves in words and in photos.

When it comes to advice, I believe everything matters. When I reflect on where I’m at, I remember that I’m here because of what I did before. If I had done everything perfectly, without mistakes, I’d never be as considerate and thoughtful as I am now.

Mistakes are what make creative work powerful. That’s why my advice is to make mistakes worth talking about—part of the story that makes people want to be around your work. It’s important to fail, but you can do more. You can always make your failures interesting.


By Kyle Studstill

Follow Linh at @composure.design

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.


- Kyle Studstill


Follow Kyle at @composure.design

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.