Victor Hunt (@victormunt) is one of the great enigmas of Instagram. His work on Instagram is a patchwork of verbage and images paired to create a certain character to match each photo. The color with which he paints his images varies greatly from picture to picture, yet there is a fluidity between every captured moment. Here at Mextures we have always been appreciative observers of Vic’s work. By the grace of the gods, we had the privilage of having a proper digital sitdown with him during which we learned a fantastic amount of interesting and ridiculous information about all things Victor Hunt. Enjoy the read!
Hi! I’m Vic, I was born in Roswell, New Mexico and I do not believe in conformity. I live in Northern New Jersey. I’m a Creative Director by trade and just a regular walking around spitting on the ground human being when I’m not. I’m happiest when I’m behind the wheel of an automobile traveling in a direction with no destination.
What first interested you in taking pictures?
Well, my dad was in the service so we moved around a lot and he always carried a few cameras with him basically documenting everywhere we went. I think he owned a 35mm and a 120mm so it's just a habit I've always had of taking a camera along with me where ever I go. The iPhone just made the habit effortless.
How did you first get in to Instagram?
About 4 years ago Instagram was just something everyone was using in the studio I was working in at the time. We’d use it to share weekend adventures or new things we saw with each other instantly. That quickly evolved into developing a personal visual style or ways of seeing things that captured your own unique personality. Once I'd figured out how to channel hashtags and joined a few hubs I started to realize that the way we communicate with each other had radically changed. I was communicating on a very simple level with followers from around the planet who shared similar insights, both creatively and regarding life in general. The habit of a daily post not only was a great creative exercise in connecting on a visual and emotional level but me being a big whopping introvert was a great way to find friends and show support as well as receive it from followers. So overtime I met some really cool folks from a very broad spectrum and it gave me a unique perspective for myself, my photography and just my creativity.
What does your editing process typically look like?
Like an octopus falling out of a tree would best describe it! Look, here’s the thing about editing off a hand held device. Most editing apps are based off of a preexisting program, like photoshop for example, and most would say that Mextures is a similar comparative to Photoshop but in your pocket. I would argue that they are entirely dissimilar. Photoshop is a production tool and so the engineering is based off that experience and there is no creative arch baked in to it. Since the inclusion of the polishing tools in Mextures it has allowed you to edit with predetermined expectations as well as ones entirely based on your own personal creativity. In other words if I’m in a good, bad or indifferent mood I translate that in to my images during the editing process and its really that path of exploration that’s my obsession with editing my photography. Hopefully that made no sense.
Can we play with a few of your formulas?
Oh sure. I'll give you a mix. But just a heads up here, some of these are kind of toxic. So please use with the utmost of discretion.
1. I call this one ...Mr. Appyass ...the formula is MRAPYSS. You remember back in the day? I really loved the whole negative fade thing and this formula not only gives that O so trendy blend blue, pink combo blush but has just a kiss of negative fade running through it to let them know you've been around that block before.
2. I couldn't think of a name for this so I just used the fire emoji instead of words ...the formula for this is LBQLXSX. There's nothing I like doing more when I'm in NYC then running out in to the middle of the street to get a shot of those long canyons of architecture all the while dodging taxis and stares from the tourist. The lighting in this type of shot is amazing and can be overwhelming. But rather than compensating for it this formula increases that light to a nuclear level while contrasting the darks to a pitch and flattening it at the same time.
3. This one is called Vakadook. The formula is VKADQQK. If I'm not in the city I'm in some dreary desolate part of the east coast where the land finally gives in to the ocean. This formula works best with a shot that has a little complexity in it but needs great swaths of water or land. It primarily dumps loads of dark blue with flattening dark shadows and with little or no light seeping in.
4. Here's Squid (don't judge me). The formula is SKCGCPN. I tend to shoot images with very little color in them so I need a way that desperately pulls out what little color there might be in an image while flattening out the darker shadows. The trick with this formula is to over saturate your image and build up the brightest colors first, then reload it back into Mextures and apply this formula.
5. And finally, Skyfrost. Ok. Well maybe it's not a very clever name but at least I didn't use an emoji! The formula is XKDIVZG. The only reason I save a formula is if it's really strong at changing the overall direction of the image and this one does just that. I tend to shoot the same kind of image and this one just pushes me to see more than just the obvious within the photo.
Do you feel like Mextures offers to your editing process that perhaps other apps do not?
Since the time I bought my first iPhone, the amazing thing for me is how it’s changed my perception of the way we can communicate. Not only to my closest friends but the world in general and with the inclusion of social media with all of its different platforms, creative expression just exploded! We can communicate with friends and followers from around the world on a daily basis and through the creative medium have the ability to express ourselves on what used to be considered a professional level.
Not all of the apps I’ve tried get this though. Mextures is one of the few that completely understands that concept and has created a UI platform that allows for a creative journey and sense of discovery where most apps require a defined destination that inhibits any free creative growth.
So let me see if I can sum this up without the $100 dollar words.
Mextures allows anyone to take the images that they capture and, based completely on your emotional standpoint oin that moment, express complex emotions through those images within minutes, without every having been introduced to or be familiar with preestablished creative disciplines like art, design, photography or whatever. Some of the more intrinsic attributes are its ability to save formulas to be used for later or to share with others (social media right?) as well as a preset guest menu of formulas which, by the way, had some of the most awesome folks that actually answered back when I started following them.
And I can’t sing enough praise about all of the support within the Mextures community as well as all the forefathers of Mextures.
What has been your favorite image to capture so far and what makes it your favorite?
Well, there was a time when I was really obsessed with running out in to the middle of a busy street in Manhattan, especially with the sun either rising or setting. But I grew out of it (consistent with near death experiences and just plain boredom). That eventually led to wandering around and exploring the great out of doors trying to connect emotionally (because I can't figure how to do that with people) within those surrounding.
But if I had to pick just one type of image that would be my favorite to shoot…
Well, first I’d have to explain a little about the town I live in.
Trains first began arriving in Bernardsville around 1872, bringing in all of the wealthy folks in the summer who didn’t want to travel out to the Hamptons way out on Long Island. In fact, the train line eventually became known as the millionaires express. But money has a funny way of vanishing and with it the folks that once had it. Although the town is still know for its estates they are nothing compared to the original ones built long, long ago. Now, when I say big estates, these houses make the type of grand house you see on a program like Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle) look like an out house. But over time these massive buildings were simply impossible to staff and too costly to maintain. Most were converted to nunneries or convalescent homes and then eventually just abandoned and left for ruin. When visiting these places it’s impossible to take in the amount of craftsmanship and detail that would go in to the construction (they don't make ’em like they used to) of these houses as well as the surrounding grounds. One of them had the grounds designed by the landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, who worked on central park in NYC while another was built by the same architectural firm (Carrere and Hastings) that built the New York Library in 1908.
One of the cool things that happens with some of these estates, is that they are eventually placed on public auction and then submitted to designer showcases to be completely refurbished by competing builders, contractors and interior designers. Then they’re opened for public viewing and eventually for sale. When these houses get refurbished, all the folks involved are asked to submit their ideas in a rendered illustration which my wife (Abby) illustrates for them. This means having access to these great houses in their original state before reconstruction begins to take measurements and… wait for it…pictures! I can’t tell you how impossibly cool it is to enter one of these great houses that have been shuttered for decades and completely devoid of human contact. And to go walking from room to room, from attic to basement exploring every facet and imagining what it must have been like to live there back in the day. It’s like having your very own personal time machine.
Well in this shot we see what looks like a club room with wall covered in wood. Light pours in from the center window as well as from the window on the right. In the center of the room is a table with six chairs of different styles randomly placed around the table. It is obviously a bright day outside but inside it is contrasted by the darkness in the room and the drastic light-source coming from the right side, creating harsh shadows. The colors are very muted tones of brown and beige. There is a strong contrast between light and dark, and overall, the room feels symmetrical but slightly off balance. As the viewer, we appear to be standing in front of this scene, looking straight at it, and the overall effect is that we just opened a door and walked into the room.
As we view this shot the strong sense of balance helps ground all the other elements which because of their complexity adds interest to the overall shot. The weight of the right side is balanced by the strong shaft of light piercing the room practically cutting it in two. The chairs have been left in disarray as if a group were sitting but left them as they stood up to leave the room. As complicated as all the random elements are in this room, the balance comes from the strong light in the center window and the symmetry of the bookshelves as well as the light fixtures on the ceiling.
Overall, this shot makes me feel lonely and yet comforting at the same time. It's the amazing contrast that holds my attention here. The empty bookcases suggest that no one lives here yet the table and chairs show that recently people had been there. The light inside is dark to the point of not being able to see the corners of the room clearly, yet there is so much light pouring into the room that enough of it is visible. There's something very comforting in the colors that are inviting, yet the room is hollow and devoid of any personal touches.
This is one of my favorite shots from when I was wandering through this abandoned mansion. The room taught me to notice things like the way chairs are an extension of people's personalities and can have a voice all to themselves. Of course this room has one of the best uses of light and how it can integrate itself in to a room. Basically I look for my images to explain visually what I'm feeling while I'm actually looking at the space in front of me because most of the time, without a shot like this, if I try to explain to folks what I was doing and feeling at the time. They tend to look at me like I have lobsters crawling out of my ears.
Talk to me about the people who have most inspired you?
Well as far as inspiration I think I already mentioned my father was an avid photography. At least for awhile anyway.
But as I was growing up I found that a few of my friends early on, around high school, always carried a camera with them. Which was a great habit of creativity that I fell in to. Although all that dark room and f-stop stuff was annoying as hell and really expensive!
Once I got my first iPhone and discovered Instagram, and eventually Mextures, I loved the idea of unconstrained creativity especially with photography.
The idea that there is a natural creative talent within all of us and it’s the tool that becomes the barrier, led me to folks like @mattfrench and @scottcbakken who both started out as fairly unassuming dudes who happen to live in amazing places with a great eye for landscapes and editing.
I’m really eclectic so I have some folks that I admire for their natural editing talents like @vaguespace, @IMMERSIVELOVE, and @aaron.atanacio. But I love the completely redefining creativity of say @jonschoonver or @MATTHEWCUSTER and @mephistooooo.
Then there are the folks that define the evolution of photography. The folks that set the high water mark, from my perspective at least: @silenttapes, @stephpaxton and @frybros. But really everyone I follow and speak with on a regular basis and have some kind of relationship with are all inspiring me in some way.
Take an adventure through the visual jungle that is Victor’s feed!