Today’s interview comes from the Rangeley Lakes Region in the western mountains of Maine and features the very talented Photographer Kyle Haley. Kyle finds inspiration for his craft with this beautiful region of Maine where he was born, raised and currently lives. Through his lens, Kyle has the ability to effectively convey his passion for capturing stunning images of his adventures.
Kyle, it was wonderful getting to know you and thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. You are a very talented photographer and someone whose work is definitely worth following. Your work is truly inspiring and I hope to see more great things from you in the future.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
My name is Kyle Haley. I am currently 25 years old and live and work in Rangeley, Maine. My profession is that in heavy construction where I am sort of a jack-of-all-trades doing everything from operating excavators and bulldozers to driving dump trucks and tractor trailers as well as the companies website and social media platforms. I’ve been doing this for quite a few years despite being just 25. I learned to operate an excavator when I was only 5 years of age digging in the sand pile at my families construction business. After high school, I went on to college. Earning my Associates Degree in Business at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, Maine and then transferring to Husson University in Bangor for my Bachelors Degree and to what will be in December, my MBA.
Where is home?
Home for me is Rangeley, Maine. I was born and raised here and I have lived here my entire life.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
It started from an early age, I was into taking pictures with old disposable film cameras of scenery and of heavy equipment, which was my other passion. As I got older, I began taking photos of mountain ranges and other scenic landscapes. I then got into digital photography as the point and shoot digital cameras started becoming popular. Living in one of the most scenic parts of the state was surely a major factor in my passion for landscape photography.
Is photography your full-time career or a hobby?
Photography for me is more of a hobby. My full-time career is in heavy construction but I also sell prints and canvas on my website. I feel if I made it more into work than a hobby, I would not have the passion for it that I do today. I’ve had many inquiries about weddings and other venues, but once it becomes work, I lose the spark in it that motivates me to go out and improve on every image I capture.
Are you formally-taught or self-taught?
I would say it was a combination of the two. I have learned a lot from some great photographers that I have had the honor of meeting over the years and coupling that with the 10’s of thousands of images I have taken over the years. I believe that reputation plays a key role in learning something, whatever it might be, the more you do it, the more you learn and then combining that with feedback from others creates a really good product.
In regard to marketing, how much of your time do you dedicate to social media? Do you use any special programs or services?
Surprisingly not very much. I just use normal apps. I am not as savvy with Instagram or Snapchat but I am pretty adept with a lot of the marketing and analytic tools on Facebook. I started my Facebook page awhile before my other social media accounts, so it has a larger and broader audience. As far as time goes, I don’t spend a ton of time on the accounts during the day. I usually catch up on the comments and things of that nature at night or in the early morning.
What has been the easiest part of learning about photography?
The easiest part for me would probably be locating things of interest to shoot. With so much scenery in this western mountains region of the state, I find there to be an abundance of things to shoot and often it isn’t a very long drive to get to a location that I think will look good.
What has been the most challenging part of photography?
The most challenging part would undoubtedly be the weather. A lot of my shots, especially the night shots, are very challenging to obtain at times because of our fast-changing weather. The night shots are especially tricky because not only do you have to time the moon so it is the darkest out, but it is rare to get it on a night with clear skies as well. I find that challenging but it becomes much more rewarding with the images that often come from those shoots.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
By consistently finding new and challenging spots to capture unique perspectives of our region. I always try to make my next shoot better than my last, and to do that, you have to constantly think outside the box and come up with new perspectives because. Each popular image is going to create an expectation to achieve at least equal quality if not better on the next image, which is good, it drives me to come up with better content..
Share with us your favorite image and why.
My favorite image to date would probably be a toss-up between the shot I got up to Saddleback Mountain two summers ago of the lupine and the milky way and the ’Snowliage’ as I like to call it on West Kennebago Mountain from foliage season back in 2015. Both those photos were very challenging to capture, hence the reason they are probably my favorite ones, but they are also both unique. They are something that is not seen every day. The snowliage one especially provided a great contrast between the arrival of winter and the lingering of autumn with the foliage below.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I shoot on Canon cameras. I have a Canon 70D (Crop sensor) and 6D Mark II (Full-Frame sensor). I shoot primarily with my new 6D Mark II nowadays. My favorite lens is the Canon 24-105mm that I run on it. It is one of Canon’s newer L series lenses and it performs awesome. I don’t own many prime lenses as I like to shoot a variety of perspectives in a short amount of time. I enjoy have different focal lengths to work with while shooting. I recently got Tamron’s new 100-400mm lens when it came out as well, and I have to say, I am very impressed with that lens and it is probably my second favorite in my arsenal right now. Very sharp throughout the focal range.
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
My favorite accessory would be the polarizer filter I run on my 24-105mm. When shooting landscapes with reflective surfaces such as water and when shooting images with windows in it, it drastically reduces the reflective light. It also brings out amazing deep blue skies as well, which gives the image an interesting look.
What is in your camera bag?
Usually a full range of lenses for whatever body I am carrying that day. If it is my full-frame, then my full-frame lenses. If it’s the 70D then it will have my EF-S cropped lenses in it. I carry extra batteries and SD card as well as a cleaning kit and lens filters. In the winter time while snowmobiling it will also have two GoPro’s in it.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
Tamron’s 150-600mm G2 lens for wildlife shooting. I really love my 100-400mm but the reach of the 600mm would be amazing for the wildlife shots.
Do you use Lightroom, Photoshop, both or other?
I use both. If I have quite a few photos to process from a long shoot, I will always use Lightroom as it is very easy to process many photos in minimal time. If I only have 3-4 really good shots that I want to process, then I will go in and process the RAW file in Photoshop. Photoshop sometimes brings a negative impression to some as they view it as a manipulation software where you can stack different images together to make a composite image (which of course you can do) but I like it for its very in-depth editing tools for single exposures.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite or most memorable photo sessions? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
My most memorable would probably be where my knack for landscape photography really took off and that was my trip to Alaska in the summer of 2008. I took over 4,000 images on that trip, 80% of which were landscape images. It was great partially because I love to travel and see new places, but also I was able to see what was at the time Mount McKinley and now back to its original name of Denali. North America’s tallest mountain. I also dreamt of someday seeing the mountain in person when I was very young, and one day on our trip in 2008, we were able not only to see the mountain, but we took a plane ride around it and landed on a glacier right next to it. I will never forget taking photos of the snowy peak. It was summer I recall, sometime in the middle of August and there was a lot of snow on the ground around us and there was fresh powder in the mountains surrounding us including Denali already. It was strange with it being summer and there being snow I recall. It was an awesome experience.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
There were undoubtedly a few of those moments over the years. I’ve left my SD card’s at home before and arrived to take photos on a hike with no card before. I’ve also left the batteries on the charger before too. The most recent one I recall that didn’t go as planned was a time-lapse sequence of the Milky Way I setup. Everything was dialed in perfectly and the sky was clear, but I forgot to check my weather apps for fog…the first 20 minutes of the time-lapse capture was clear but the entire rest of the night the fog rolled in and the entire card was filled with nothing but shots of the fog. As I mentioned before, repetition. Do it enough and you will capture some amazing stuff over time but there will be a few duds along the way.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I’d like to do more with astrophotography down the road. I’ve been dabbling in it the past two years but they have all been single exposures. Some photographers that specialize in astro will create these out of the world shots utilizing complex stacking. They will take some 10-15 exposures and in some cases as many as 30 different exposures to combine together to create these incredible images. I recall seeing one the other day of a person rock climbing up this cliff in full illumination with the local town in the background illuminated perfectly and a dark sky with the Milky Way rising up in the background. It was remarkable and the photographer has planned the shoot way in advance. I recall it was something like 17 exposures to make it work. It was amazing. I hope to someday develop the patience to be able to attempt those shoots.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Ideally still living here in Rangeley. Hopefully further along in my career but also more involved in the community as well. Our town has somewhat missing demographic of working age people from 22-45. As one of the few within that demographic being 25, I’d like to work with the community in developing a plan make it more attainable for people within this demographic to live in Rangeley 90% of people I grew up with had to relocate in order to find good paying job to support themselves and or their families.