When Andrew Kearns first started taking pictures, people told him it was almost impossible to make a living as a photographer. They thought he needed a “safe” career. They were wrong. In early 2015, he took a leap of faith and left his job at Starbucks. His Instagram took off, and soon after that, his dream became a reality.
Since then, he’s taken more risks. In the spring of 2016, he left everything behind to live out of his car and explore the world around him. These days, Kearns is still traveling, shooting sublime landscapes and chronicling his adventures on his popular vlog channel. He’s watched the sun rise and set over some of the most beautiful places on earth, and most recently, he’s hiked Ben Hope in Northern Scotland.
We interviewed Kearns about Instagram stardom, the importance of hard work, and the value of a Squarespace website.
You have an enormous Instagram following. Has the platform guided your aesthetic at all?
“It definitely has, and it’s both been a good and bad thing. Good in that I shoot what I love and get jobs based around that (travel, camping, portraits, lifestyle, etc.) but also bad in that it can keep me in that box of only shooting that. I’m realizing that now and aiming to branch out to other things this coming season.”
What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled?
“Iceland, for sure. It was just for fun really; we had a couple small jobs while there. It was so insane, and every turn would bring about something more amazing than the last. The sun didn’t set until early in the morning, so we could pretty much shoot 24/7. It was incredible.”
You have taken some big risks for your creative career, like quitting your job. Have they paid off?
“Yeah, they have paid off! I’m doing what I love now and can’t really complain too much. My best advice is to risk strategically. I did have my dad’s support at the time, and I had a small cushion. I also work 24/7– everything I do revolves around a camera, and I credit that for a lot of my success.”
Tell us about living out of your car. Did you face any challenges?
“Not too many, random car troubles here and there, but it’s nothing major. It just usually holds you up for a couple days or so. Meeting people and experiencing new places and cultures has changed me a ton. Gaining new perspectives has played a huge role on my work and how I shoot. You learn a lot about yourself and people as a whole.”
Does being a hiker enable you to see landscapes that are inaccessible to most people?
“Hiking definitely brings me to places most folks won’t want to put in the work for. I like it because it allows my photos to be unique and new. It’s pretty shocking where a little bit of effort will get you.”
How do you define success as a photographer?
“Doing what you love 24/7. Easy as that.”
Why is vlogging such an important part of your practice?
“It’s allowed me to document my life, as well as inspire others to get out and shoot more, which is ultimately the goal. It’s also cool to show people the BTS of a shot or place; sometimes a photo can’t quite do that.”
Why did you use Squarespace to build your site?
“It was easy and quick to figure out.”
What template do you use?
“I use Wells. It’s simple and clean. I don’t need it to be too intricate, as I just want to get my work in front of people. It does that perfectly”
Is updating your site convenient when you’re out on the road?
“Yeah, it is! I update my portfolio usually once every few months, but I update my Blog regularly, and I find it easy and quick.”
Have you gotten any feedback on your website?
“I get a lot of questions about what I use for my website, so I guess that means it’s good?” (Laughs)
What’s been the most rewarding part of building your website with Squarespace?
“Being able to showcase my work as an artist simply and how I want it.”
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