There’s certainly nothing novel about capturing a particularly jaw-dropping stretch of scenery with your smart phone. Or putting it on Instagram, for that matter. But there is indeed something original about the idea of turning that process into the creation of fine art. Which, incidentally, is exactly what photographer Kevin Russ has tried—and largely succeeded in—doing. He’s not only managed to build a social media following in the hundreds of thousands, but also to earn a living by selling prints of some of his best work. A living that he devotes largely to travel, melding his passion and his occupation into a single pursuit. And by using basic iPhone functions and a couple of very inexpensive apps, he creates masterpieces.
The rather unorthodox decision to capture gallery-worthy prints on an iPhone wasn’t necessarily a deliberate one. He began taking pictures with a more traditional DSLR camera, but became frustrated when many of his shots felt slightly off in texture and tone. On a whim, he decided to try using his phone camera instead, discovering as he did so that the public responded enthusiastically to those images, actually seeking them out for purchase. His photography has gained both renown and acclaim in recent years, to the extent that The Atlantic even referred to him as “the iPhone’s Ansel Adams.” Heady praise, admittedly, for an artist who finds a simple pleasure in the open road, making new friends, and seeing America not with a camera around his neck, but with a phone in his pocket, ready to capture it all.