Photographer Spotlight: Cory Staudacher

Cory Staudacher is a designer & photographer, born & raised in Seattle, WA (coffee capital). You can always find him at a local coffee shop working on his Mac or out exploring the city taking Instagram photos on his iPhone and who has risen to some level of fame in the digital age due to his creative eye and talent behind the lens.

1. I know you struggled with classifying yourself as a photographer at the beginning but how did you become interested in the craft and what along the way made you adopt it as a lasting practice? Do you remember the first picture you made that you valued?

Initially I did struggle to understand what being a photographer meant. Everyone has their own thoughts and requirements to categorize someone as a photographer. For me, I viewed myself as a designer who liked to take photos on the side but never a photographer although I’ve created a photo everyday for the past 3 years.

I worked on color, composition, and subject. I viewed the world through this iPhone lens. Sure it wasn't getting to master a DSLR or know what aperture to use or what the hell bokeh was but I was creating daily through a lens. I was just in denial from needing to be at a certain level to be a photographer. Even with all the exposure that Instagram brought me, I never felt like iPhone was good enough.

Mobile photography was my gateway drug into a lifestyle of photography. Going on adventures, exploring the world around me, creating images that where in my head. That’s what photography is all about. It was always inside of me and I never knew that a history of graphic design would help fuel what I wanted to create. Lasting simplistic images.

One of the first photographs I valued was taken on a iPhone 3G which was a portrait of my sister standing in a frosty foggy field. The quality of this image was one of the first photos that really stirred me to create more photos and embark on adventures.

2. I enjoy the way your photographs build upon each other and result in a softly compiled beautiful collection of portraits and landscapes. Would you say this has become your visual style? What response are you seeking to achieve with it and has the idea of working on a photographic project to further your skills and learn more about something you love ever crossed your mind?

Thank you so much. I try and build my feed in not only color themes but general events. Whether it’s my trip to the Big Apple or exploring my favorite Northwest forest. I think it’s important to document your journey through life in a creative way.

As for my style, I like creating images that are simple, direct, not harsh with to much visual detail but creates a mood. Projects are something I do want to experiment more with in the future. My girlfriend Bethany Olson and I started to bring a lantern around with us on our adventures to start to use Instagram to play with light and low light situations. This is helping me greatly from feeling in a Insta-Bubble of content that all looks the same.

3. Talk to me about Instagram a bit because that’s how I initially came across your work. What opportunities has it opened up for you and where there ever a profound moment when you realized that there was a lot more to the app/service than pretty filters?

I was on Instagram pretty early on and got to be apart of the early community that was created. Growing as a photographer on a service is a very weird experience. Daily other friends would be pushing the limits of what we could capture and create on our iPhones. It pushed me to grow as a photographer even though I was just a graphic designer with a soft interest in photos.

Instagram lately has changed. It isn't as small as you can tell and to be different is hard. Showing your personality and doing things that are outside the box is the only way to really get noticed now. Personally one style that I help start & developed on Instagram was a subject in the middle of the frame of the picture to give scale to the beautiful landscape. But now there are so many people creating images like that or sunset #jumpstagram photos.

It gets hard to be different and unique. There is a lot of added pressure when you have a big audience around the style of images you've created in the past. For me it started to get overwhelming to do anything new. But I realized that I started to create photos for others and not myself. Sure there are a lot of opportunities and brand deals that are coming my way but when it comes down to it, I want to create photos not to please others but to create photos to inspire others.

4. Because photography tends to be a very gear oriented craft, talk to us about the equipment you use to capture the world around you.

Photo gear of Cory Staudacher

For me photography was something that came about through an iPhone and an app. So of course I always shoot with my iPhone 5 first and use sometimes a gorilla pod for slow shutter images. But I also capture those moments right now with the easy to take with me traveling Fuijifilm X-E1 with a 35mm 1.4 lens. I plan to upgrade in the near future!

5. Do you have a single favorite photograph from all that you have taken, and can you share with us the backstory to it? What determines its value for you?

There are some photos I create that I can't forget. This photograph was taken as we went out to explore the Olympic National Forest. There was some fog in the valley and we decided to try to photograph it as it loomed right on the edge and the sun was simply magical in the way the rays made through. It resulted being one the most magical moments I’ve ever captured.

To read up more on other photographers in the Spotlight Series, check out the dedicated page.