Kenton Steryous // @kenton_steryous
Many people get the opportunity to see your work. What would you say your art says about you?
Hopefully, it’s just a window into who I am. I’m fun loving, but hard working. I’m artistic, but also authentic. I like variety, but usually don’t color too far outside the lines. I love God, my family, and my country, and then a whole bunch of other stuff that comes after that.
Photography and outdoors is a huge part of my life, but it’s only part, and the trick is to never get it out of balance.
In the world of Instagram, there seems to be plenty of outside influence available. Do you find that outside influence more helpful or distracting? Are there any particular steps you take to keep your art true to yourself?
It can absolutely be both helpful and distracting, but that’s up to the individual to decide which it’s going to be. If you’re an outcome based thinker as opposed to a process based thinker, you will invariably stray from your true roots.
We all want tons of followers, but if that’s all you’re after, then you will more than likely gravitate to whatever art form will produce that, which may or may not be staying true to yourself.Whereas a process based art form focuses on doing the right things at the right times, doing things to improve your art or photography and then allowing the results to naturally happen.
Again, this doesn’t mean you don’t experiment, but the experiments should always be focused on improving your art first, and then lower down on the priority list is increasing your following.
Don’t get me wrong - I want as many followers as I can possibly get. But I have to constantly remind myself about priorities. And the number one step I take is to simply trust my gut.
If the feedback you get on a particular shot creates doubt in your mind, then trust it, and learn from it, and utilize the feedback to make it better. But if you receive feedback, and you strongly disagree, and it doesn’t shake your confidence in that particular shot, then trust that as well.
We read your spotlight on The Outbound - you mentioned your family a couple times. All your art and adventuring, is that having an effect on how your family works? Do you think there are some benefits to your family being part of this lifestyle?
Wow, this question hits home. And again, if I’m honest, it’s been both positive and negative.
I’m a strong believer in getting kids outside, and so I try to take them with me any chance I get whether it’s hiking, camping, or rock climbing. Our times spent outside are always the most rewarding, and the most civil…there’s no battling over whose turn it is to play on the iPad or Xbox. So that’s positive.
However, I travel for my day job quite a bit too, so the negative would be that this lifestyle just adds to the time I’m away from home. Right now, we’re making it work. But the fact is I have a wife and four kids (and a dog), and my number one priority has to be them (but I’m really crossing my fingers that we can make this work!!!).
Do you see social media being beneficial to the future of adventure/photography?
I may not be the best judge here as I literally just started my Instagram account a year ago. And I hate to be wishy-washy, but there’s a positive and negative here too. The positive is that Instagram has inspired thousands of people to get outside and start exploring.
That’s awesome! But the negative is that it’s exploded so much, that the adventure photography space is extremely crowded right now, making it very difficult to get noticed. There are some amazing photographers out there, but many times they don’t get the opportunities that others get simply because they don’t have a huge following.
As a business man, I totally get this. If I’m going to sponsor someone, I want as much exposure as possible. The downside to this, however, is that many times it becomes less about the art and quality, and more about figuring out how to manipulate social media. BUT, the perfect combination is when you have both quality work and a sense of how to work the social media outlets. So if I’m forced to say one or the other, I would say it’s positive and beneficial.