During the month of August, Pictureline held an Instagram contest where followers could hashtag their images and hope to have their photograph featured for the day! For 31 days, beautiful and unique photographs filled the Pictureline Instagram feed, until the last day of the contest one lucky - and very much liked - photographer was named the winner!
Brolin Roney, a 16 year old junior at Orem High School, is a very talented portrait photographer! He loves shooting portraits in the mountains amongst the wildflowers, which is luckily right out his front door. We sat down with Brolin and found out more about him, his photography, and how at such a young age, he's already achieved a huge following.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in photography.
My name is Brolin, and a few of my interests include playing botchy ball with my family, hanging out with one-year old niece Emma Rose, and (of course) portrait photography!
About three years ago while my family and I were cruising down the Alpine Loop (at its prime in fall colors) and I happened to have my iPod touch handy. I started snapping pictures and thought it was a blast! Eventually after a few weeks of only taking pictures on my iPod, I managed to get a hold of the family camera and started practicing with that. Eventually, during the summer of 2013 I purchased my own SLR and started practicing portraits on automatic mode (Lame, I know). I then received a 50mm f/1.8 lens for Christmas and started playing around with manual mode, and here I am now!
Tell us about the image that won our Pictureline contest.
The winning image I took is probably one of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken in my life. I took it at about 5 o’ clock in the afternoon in my model’s bedroom. The shoot had just started and I wasn’t really feeling the pictures I had taken so far. So, she sat down on her bed and started posing. At first I didn’t love the idea, I thought it would look too washed out. But I instantly fell in love with the idea after I looked at the first few bed shots, and we spent about the next 15 minutes shooting her sitting on her bed. I got home, started editing, and knew that image was the one, and I had to use it for Instagram. I’m glad I did!
Where has your work been featured?
Last summer I won 2nd place for Photographer of the Year in the 2013 iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAwards). I’ve also had work featured throughout Instagram on what I like to call "Feature Pages." I’ve been featured on @waitingontheworld, @oceanfeatures, @bleachedfilm, @instagood, @2instagood, @darkmornings, @chasingsouls and @dark.daisies to name a few. My work has also been featured on some other, smaller feature pages as well.
Why are you interested in portraits, and what about outdoor photography do you enjoy so much?
I just find it so fun to go to a location with a friend and have them pose while I snap away! I also think it’s a blast to find settings that work for different lighting.
There’s just something magical about being on location in the outdoors with a beautiful girl surrounded by nature with my camera on hand. I rarely ever think of my photo shoots as work, it’s usually for me just an adventure with friends!
What is your biggest challenge with photography and your most challenging project?
If I’m to be honest, my biggest challenge with photography is coming up with ideas. I usually use models who know how to model and pose, but I usually like to have my own ideas and I like to brainstorm some ideas before I go to shoots.
I’d have to say that my most challenging project I’ve ever had was my winning bedroom photo shoot. I was running off of an hour of sleep and I was just not in my creative zone that day. Thanks to my wonderful friend/model for that shoot I was able to pull off some amazing images. Aside from that, though, it was also in a dark bedroom and it was a very hot day, so it made for a challenge finding the correct settings and getting comfortable. That would have to be my most difficult photo shoot of all time.
What would you say is the most important thing when shooting portraits.
I think the most important part of shooting portraits is to know how to pose your subject well. As a friend once told me, "It’s easy to take portraits of a pretty model who knows how to pose," and that is so true. When the time comes that you get hired by someone to take their pictures for any reason and you have no idea how to pose them, chances are that the shots will come out awkward and boring. However, if you have a model that knows what they’re doing, you will get better shots.
Do you shoot anything else besides portraits?
I also enjoy shooting landscapes and night-scapes. I usually take all my equipment + lenses to my shoots to get some regular landscapes as well as portraits. I also on occasion enjoy going out into the mountains with my telephoto lens and my wide-angle lens and shooting the stars.
What kind of gear is vital to create your work? Any suggestions for other aspiring photographers looking to take better portraits?
I use a 50mm f/1.8 lens for my portraits, and I absolutely love it! I enjoy the look that comes with a wider aperture on a better lens much better than on a kit lens. I love the nice, soft, blurry backgrounds and whenever I can manage to create that beautiful large bokeh I will. My thoughts on equipment is that the more you put into good equipment the better you’ll get out of your photos. I’m not necessarily saying that the equipment you get is going to make you better, but it can certainly help! If I were to suggest anything about portraits, I would tell you to get a 50 or 85 mm f/1.8 lens. You won’t be disappointed, I promise you.
What projects are you most proud of or were your favorite?
If I were to list a couple of my best photo shoots, the top of my list would have to be the bedroom photo shoot I did with Jenna Jarvis. Her room had wooden floors, the walls and bed were white, and there was a photo wall of Polaroid’s and film pictures, and very cool decorations hanging above the bed. It was fun to experiment with light and I got a lot of good turnouts.
Another favorite shoot of mine was with three beautiful friends at the gloriously green Silver Lake Flat. It was the perfect evening, the water was warm, the mountains were green, and everything was covered in a warm, orange glow. We were out in the middle of the lake, them wearing dresses, me with my camera (freaky, I know). The photos all turned out so sharp and clear, with beautiful colors. Sadly, about a month after the photo shoot, my external drive crashed and I lost many photos including all of the lake pictures.
Where does your inspiration come from?
When I first started shooting portraits, my inspiration came from an Instagram feature page called @darkmornings. I loved all of the photographers they featured and it gave me an idea of a look I wanted for my photos. Nowadays, however, my major inspirations are Jorden Keith and Tyson French, two of my favorite photographers. At my photo shoots I usually try to add a touch of both their styles into one look. I admire the classiness of their photography and I love the colors and mood of their photos so very much!
What is your process?
Recently I’ve started sketching/writing ideas for shoots and poses in a separate notebook, and I’ve been taking it in my camera bag to all my shoots. I look over my ideas en route to make it that much easier. I then go home, and usually I start editing immediately. I flag the best photos from each shoot in iPhoto and I drag photos in portions to Photoshop elements 10 where I edit them. After I’ve saved that chunk of photos, I unflag them and drag the next portion over. I do this until I’ve edited all of them and proceed to put them all into a folder, when I drag them to my USB drive (both unedited and edited folders). I then get the USB drive to my clients. If it’s a photo shoot just for fun with friends, then all I do is add the edited photos onto a new Dropbox folder and email + text the link to my models!
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I’m hoping to get more into weddings, and themed shoots. I’ve done two weddings now and I absolutely love love love shooting weddings. I love the entire process as well! Engagements, bridals, and the actual wedding give me such a thrill and I hope I can get more into that. Also, I’m starting to dig having themes for my projects, rather than just being spontaneous about it. I have some exciting projects coming throughout the next few months so stay tuned!
Any words of advice for other aspiring photographers?
My advice is to 100% be yourself as a photographer. Follow through with your own ideas and don’t feel pressured to make your photos like other photographers work. I think it’s great fun to take pictures inspired by my favorite photographers every once in a while but for the most part I promise that if you use your own ideas you’ll get the most out of your creativity. For the longest time I would just look over Pinterest for ideas and add my own spin to the photos but it held me back completely, and now that I’ve refrained from using other people’s ideas as much I’ve enjoyed it so much more than I ever have before. Don’t give a care about what others say about your ideas, just go for it and you’ll enjoy it that much more.
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
If I weren’t a photographer I would probably be a therapist. I love helping people through their problems and I consider myself a kind and patient person. It would be the perfect match if I weren’t already considering photography as a career!
If you would like to learn more about Brolin you can visit his website, or check out his instagram for more awesome portraits!