Aaron Burden (@aaronburden) has long been one of the most brilliant minds and steady hands in macro photography. More recently he's delved into the world of aerial photography via his drone. With every progression of his photography his inherent talents become more evident. In addition to his natural gifting as a photographer, there are very few people who can craft a Mextures edit as subtle and as impactful as he can. It's been a long time coming, but we finally had the pleasure of chatting with Aaron about life and love and other mysteries. Catch up now!
My name is Aaron Burden. You may know me by my super creative name on Instagram, @aaronburden. Outside of the Instagram app, I'm an assistant pastor with a focus on youth at a church in MI. I enjoy photography, but my passion is helping young people live their lives with purpose. I believe that purpose is discovered in Christ. So, I spend a lot of my time with teenagers. I plan events, speak in youth gatherings, and ultimately challenge young people spiritually.
WHAT SORT OF GEAR DO YOU PHOTOGRAPH WITH?
I shoot quite a bit with my iPhone 6s. I'm a big fan of the Olloclip lenses, so I always usually have one attached to my phone. My "regular" cameras right now are an OM-D E-M10 Mark II and the Lumix GX7. I shoot micro four thirds because of the size, so I can always have my camera with me. Also, this past fall, I picked up a DJI Phantom 3. It's fun to see the world through a new perspective.
WHAT APPS OR SOFTWARE DO YOU USE THE MOST?
Since I shoot quite a bit with my phone and my cameras have wifi, I edit mostly with mobile apps. My three go to apps (iOS) are Lightroom Mobile, Mextures, and VSCOcam. Almost every photo that I post goes through Lightroom Mobile. Then the majority of those go into Mextures. The remaining ones go through VSCO. I occasionally use Snapseed and SKRWT, but mainly the three I mentioned. If I do make it to my computer, I use Lightroom mostly.
HOW DID YOU GET IN TO PHOTOGRAPHY TO BEGIN WITH?
I'm naturally an early riser, so one of the things that I've come to enjoy is watching the sunrise. I probably started playing around taking pictures with my iPhone 3GS. When we lived in Florida, I would go to the beach and take pictures of the sunrise. Then, I started to go for walks and drives to find cool stuff to photograph. I guess it evolved from there. I purchased a DSLR and started learning how to use it. I read and listened to podcasts and began to learn the basics. I've learned a lot and it's been a fun journey. I'd like to think that I've come a little ways since then.
WHAT ADVICE OR LESSON HAS LED YOU TO PROGRESS THE MOST IN YOUR WORK AND STYLE?
I guess some of the best advice or the best lesson I've learned is to keep shooting. Most of the photographers that I admire are always encouraging people to get out and shoot. Sometimes I think that we wait for big events, exotic places, or special moments to pull out our cameras. I believe one of the habits that has helped me the most is taking my camera almost everywhere and finding opportunities to shoot almost every day. It has helped me to see images while I'm out walking or even just driving to work. Shooting often allows me to make mistakes and correct them which helps me to grow as a photographer.
WHAT MAKES A PIECE MEMORABLE TO YOU?
I guess one of the elements that makes a piece personally memorable is experiencing something new but also capturing something ordinary in a new way. I enjoy exploring new places while on vacation or even just a mini trip a few hours away. Those images are fun to look back on. Capturing new experiences usually produces memorable moments, but I am pretty excited when I can capture something I pass or see every day in a fresh way. It could be using my Olloclip fisheye to capture a different perspective of a tree in the fall or using my macro lens to see details of a snowflake that I would never stop to notice. Seeing ordinary in a different light reminds me of how nothing really is ordinary, but I hope it also makes my images memorable to others. I think images are more memorable when people experience something with a hint of originality.
HOW DO YOU USE MEXTURES TO ACHIEVE THE TONE YOU WORK TO CREATE IN YOUR IMAGES?
Mextures allows me to add creative elements for originality. I use it to enhance the colors of a sunrise, to add texture to a beautiful sky, or to amplify the details of a macro. The simplicity of the app makes it easy for a quick edit, but the depth of the app allows for endless variations and possibilities. What has also helped me achieve the style is the creativity found in the Mextures community. It is an excellent opportunity to gain inspiration from a variety of creative people. I've been able to enhance my style by observing how others use the app. It's amazing to learn and grow while seeing the creativity of others. I guess, the palette of creative tools and the diversity of the community have both played a role in helping me develop my style.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE HOPING TO CREATE WORK SIMILAR TO YOURS?
I would probably recommend that they import a formula or two or try the guest formulas. When I first started using Mextures, I would import formulas from people whose work inspired me, and I would examine the formulas to see how they arrived at their final image. I learned quite a bit from this practice. I believe it played a role in developing my own style. If I come up with a new formula, I usually put the formula code in the comments section of my Instagram post.
WHY IS CREATING IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I think creating brings an anticipation to life. Creativity is important because it allows us to see more possibilities, so something as simple as manipulating an image in an iOS app can broaden my perspective. For instance, I can pull my iPhone out of my pocket, snap on my Olloclip macro lens and capture a photo of some small detail that few people will ever notice. Then, when I have a few minutes during my day, I can open it up in Mextures and create something unique to the way I observed it. These creative moments may take up only 5-10 minutes of my day, but they change the perspective of how I see things throughout my day. Also, in a simple way, I just find it fun and relaxing.
COULD YOU SHARE A HANDFUL OF THE MOST INSPIRING ACCOUNTS YOU FOLLOW?
I appreciate macro photography so it's always inspiring to see what people are doing with mobile devices and mextures.
Weekly Mobile Macro - @weeklymobilemacro
Macro Mextures - @macro_mextures
I enjoy the creativity and the community of Unsplash. There are a lot of different artists doing a lot of cool stuff.
Unsplash - @unsplash
Sometimes in online communities, you get to meet creatives in real life. Here are a couple of inspiring people that I've had the opportunity to meet. They are pretty cool in real life too!
Bryan Minear - @bryanminear
Dan Price - @danpricephoto
Jaclyn - @jackleena
Ben - @benwhitephotography
Right now, during the winter, I am inspired by Don's snowflakes. I'll never be able to capture them like this, but I enjoy seeing them. LaVerne has been a help recently in my interest in frozen bubbles.
Don Komarechka - @donkomphoto
LaVerne Zuk - @vernerific
Check out a few thousand more pictures from Aaron right here!