Adam Prieto (@radam2) has a true gift for capturing the outdoors. From the coast, through the valleys and into the mountains, his penchant for being in the right place at the right time is clear as you browse through his Instagram feed. We've always appreciated the manner in which he photographs and the way he uses Mextures to make subtle but significant changes in light and coloration. We caught up with Adam just after he completed almost a year's stay in Yosemite National Park. Read on to hear more about his adventures and his photography! My name is Robert Adam Prieto. However, I usually go by my middle name. I’m currently living near Monterey (as of last month) at the moment saving up money for a little project I have in mid-august. Before this though I was living in Yosemite “dirtbagging”. I had been there since last August after quitting my job at Apple to pursue photography.
I like to think of myself as a Professional Photographer, but I am still putting in my 10,000 hours to master it.
My true love and passion is inspiring others to step into uncertainty. Helping people understand that fear is a compass showing us where to go and that having a healthy relationship with uncertainty can lead to a fulfilled life. Photography is my medium to do so.
I love being in the outdoors. I always feel a strong connection and energy when I am out in the wilderness or by the ocean. People think I am crazy, but I literally feel the energy coming in (or out) of the center of my palms. It is quite the sensation. It’s always a great experience and is also where I find most of my images that I want to create. I also like cuddling with my dog, good conversations, meeting strangers, environmental solutions, and meditating! Oh, and dancing! I love dancing!
Right now I am really focusing on how to make a living by doing what I am passionate about. I hope to be mentored by a photographer whom I have been talking to for the past few months. But I think right now, at this present moment, I aspire to be healthy, solid and fresh. I feel like when we are healthy, vigorous, and solid, that is when we are changing the world. When we are doing the things that make us healthy, beautiful, and vigorous, everyone who we interact with can benefit from it.
What really inspired your move to quit your job and move in to Yosemite?
Well, I knew I wanted to make pictures and be outside. When working at Apple I was able to go to Yosemite maybe once a month. Sometimes twice if I was ok with not sleeping one night. Then one weekend, I joined my friend who was working in the park at the time. We went on a camping trip to Ten Lakes in Yosemite’s back country. It was there that I had an epiphany if you will. It was a truly magical moment that brought me to tears. It was then that I realized I wanted to pursue photography and inspire others. So within a month I quit my job at Apple, packed my bags and moved to Yosemite to clean restrooms.
And I would say that was the best thing I have ever done for myself to date. To step into uncertainty and listen to my heart. Things like this take courage and are scary as heck. At the time it made no logical sense, but that is because this action had nothing to do with my mind but rather with my heart and the heart doesn’t deal with logic. The heart deals with feelings and passion. It speaks in the craziest ways, but when we are finally ready to let go of the external noise around us, magical things happen.
What was it like living in Yosemite and capturing life in your new home with your camera?
It was amazing and I will always call Yosemite one of my homes!
That’s such a tough thing to put into words. I could write a thesis on what it was like living in Yosemite. All of the people I met and experiences I had. All of the animals that let their guard down and to hang/swim with them. All of the “epic” and near death experiences I had.
What I can say in words is that living in Yosemite changed my life. It made me a better person. It taught me that I don’t need much to be happy. It taught me to trust my intuition and to help others. It taught me that we can learn a lot from Mother Nature but we also need to serve and protect her. Like John Muir once said, “I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in”.
Did living in a place like Yosemite teach you anything about photography?
Yosemite taught me everything I know right now about photography. I still have a lot to learn though! When I moved to Yosemite was when I started shooting constantly so it’s safe to say that my photographic journey started there. When I moved there I really started understanding how to capture light. Then I started shooting on film and that’s when I really understood how important composition is when making a photograph.
Clearly you go for a very natural feel with your edits. What does your editing process typically look like?
I love the natural feel. My workflow can look a few different ways, but for Instagram, it goes as follows:
With images I have taken with my DSLR I always import them into Lightroom first and do most of my adjustments there as well as choosing my final selects. Then I Airdrop them to my phone. Once on my phone, I do any subtle adjustments/enhancements. With landscape and sunset shots I almost always use Mextures to add just a subtle pop of color to my images. Then I begin my final adjustments in Instagram. Adding some punch here, pulling down the highlights there, brightening it just a tad. It varies from photo to photo.
With images I take on my phone I almost instantly import them into Mextures to begin my coloring process. I feel like at times, images made on my iPhone 6 can be a little flat, so Mextures does a good job with replacing some color I may have lost. I’m always subtle with it - just enough to where the image doesn’t look over-processed.
When you import a photo into Mextures what does that process look like?
I think formulas are an awesome way to find inspiration and experiment with what other people are doing, but I usually like to overlay different textures myself.
I almost always start with a texture in the Landscape Enhance pack. Dawn, Greenery, May, Winter Dusk, Winter Skies and Autumn Skies are my favorite. I also like to add something from the Radiance pack. Eventide is my favorite! What I like to do with that is rotate it so that I can add a little bit of blue to anywhere in the photograph that may be too green. That’s usually all of the processing I do though. Subtleness is my key.
Have you ever created any formulas you’d be willing to share with the Mextures crowd?
Of course! Here are a few:
Tuolumne Glow - SYMNQWL - This one is great to add a pop of color to any landscape photos you have that may be a little flat. It mainly will enhance your reds and greens!
Puffy Sunset - IICWHDE - Here I put the emphasis on the clouds and give them a cotton candy color scheme. I also add a touch of green to make the trees stand out as well. A great formula for sunsets!
Milky Sky - YCRQEEF - A great way to make your milky way shots pop. Mextures holds a great asset in manipulating colors and this formula will indeed add some colorful stardust to your shot.
Do you feel like Mextures has offered anything unique to your editing process?
As far as mobile editing goes I think the Mextures workflow is awesome. I like how quick I can add vibrance to my photos on my mobile device. And for me sharing my images as quickly as possible is a plus!
Do you have music that you like to listen to while editing photos?
I tend to go in phases with music. Usually during fall and winter I am really in to all different types of Jazz, instrumental/atmospheric stuff and folk. Then the spring comes and I bump nothing but indie-pop and Chill Wave stuff. During the summer it’s everything! Classic Rock, Indie, Pop, R&B, EDM - It really just depends on what the mood is calling for.
At the moment I can’t stop listening to Wildcat! Wildcat!, Kaskade, Creedance Clearwater Revival and Mura Masa. Any of those are playing while I am editing!
What's next for your adventuring and photography?
Well, I think as long as we are keeping a healthy relationship with uncertainty, then life is always one big adventure. So I try my best to live by that rule and surround myself by others who do the same. At the moment I am jumping between Yosemite and the Monterey area. At the end of this August I am hoping to be mentored by one of a few photographers I have been pursuing this past year. I’ve been really eager to learn the business side of Photography since that is my weakest trait at the moment.
Who inspires you?
I think there is a great deal of inspiration in boredom. Although lately I haven’t been too bored.
I always feel inspired by Chris Burkard’s images. There’s something about his photography that inspires me to do my best.
Thich Nhat Hanh is also a huge inspiration for me. His words of wisdom really reflect in my captions when posting an image on social media.
Casey Niestat is also a HUGE inspiration for me as far as being productive!
Though, at the root, I know I can always turn to meditation and nature when I’m lacking inspiration. Both activities ground me and I can hear what my heart is saying in those moments. I usually come out inspired in some way. Whether that inspiration is to make an image or a video, call my mom, help a stranger or simply just be in that moment. What’s important here is to listen to my heart. And I believe if we do that, not only will we be happier for it, but we’ll be pursuing our purpose and that’s what we are here on this earth for.
Check out more of Adam's beautiful photography here!