San Francisco based photographer Austin Rhee (@austin.rhee) captures Bay Area landscapes tinged with pink and orange hues of sunrise and sunset lighting as well as stunning landscapes from his travels. His photos reflect his love for nature and the outdoors, especially with mountains, fog, and rolling hills. Austin's moody and vibrant editing technique creates unique and dramatic images, and he has encapsulated that photography aesthetic in the three styles that he created for the Priime app.
We interviewed Austin about how he got started with photography, his recent travels through British Columbia and Norway, and the newest styles he created in the latest Priime app update.
How did you get started with photography?
Photography was always a thing that interested me growing up. I would always play around with the family camera, and in college I was that guy with the camera around his neck at all the social events.
It wasn’t until near the end of college when I became more serious about photography. I would plan more and more photo ventures, and I began pushing myself to learn the more technical aspects of how to use my camera. I was also big on shooting pictures with my iPhone during this time, and became more involved in Instagram and its fast-growing community. In fact, many of my closest friends today are photographers I've met through Instagram.
How has your photography style and way you edit changed over time?
Tough question! I would say my techniques and styles are always evolving. I look back at photos I took a year ago, or even 3 months ago, and sometimes wonder, "What was I thinking?".
Since the beginning, I’ve always been inspired by pictures that conveyed a sense of mood and drama. I do my best to paint the picture I capture with my camera with the mood I hope to inspire in the viewer. It’s always a struggle to find that right balance of mood -- when to go further and when to hold back. I oscillate between the two with my edits, and I definitely still am growing and developing my style.
What inspires you to take photos?
Simple: amazing photos!
Instagram is such a source of inspiration. I’ve stumbled upon photos there that literally blew my mind. Photographers such as @jaredchambers and @trashhand (among many others) filled my feed with photos that I previously thought were just not possible, and it inspired me to get out there and try for myself. I think the hunt for that one elusive, killer photo is a reward in itself, as I’ve gotten to explore countless beautiful places and meet awesome people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
We noticed you've been traveling to some incredible locations lately. What are some of the recent projects and travels that you've been working on?
Earlier this past year, I was lucky enough to travel to Norway with a couple other fellow photographers, Dan Tom (@dantom) and Dan Lum (@dudelum). If you don’t know already, Norway is, simply put, an insane place. I witnessed the most incredible landscapes there: Preikestolen, the Aurora Borealis, and the Lofoten Islands (which were so inspiring, I created a Priime style based on my travels there).
I was also lucky enough to shoot a travel campaign for Destination British Columbia, where we explored the cities of Whistler, Vancouver, and Victoria. You can see the interview they did with me and some photos I shared with them here.
I wanted to create a super moody style, which reflects my personal preferences as a photographer. Redwood came out of the photos from my feed that shared those moody characteristics: warm shadows mixed with muted, cyan highlights, giving it an old-school film look. Honestly, I absolutely love how this one turned out; I’ve kind of been using this style nonstop since it came out.
The weather of the Lofoten Islands has been, without a doubt, the most intense climate I’ve experienced so far in my lifetime. In a span of 4 days, I experienced temperatures ranging from freezing to 20 below, and skies that would be sunny one hour, then storming the next. But this brutal climate allowed me to capture the dramatic landscape photos that resulted in this style. With its cold tones and intense highlights, I hope that this style does justice to the beauty I witnessed at Lofoten.
My first Priime style! This style originated from all the sunset landscape shots I’ve taken over the years, and with its vibrant colors and warm tones, it makes for a great “golden hour" style. Several of my absolute favorite photos have come from edits that use this style, and I have to say I’m still amazed at the results.
You can emulate Austin's photography aesthetic with his styles Redwood, Lofoten, and Apollo. Get Austin's style pack on the Priime app.