Genuine authenticity can be a difficult thing to discover in the world of social media, but our friend, Kevin Bunn (@takes_picture), is as genuine as they come. A true man of the outdoors, Kevin has been using photography to document his time spent in nature for years. One of the things we most enjoy about his photography is that his images and edits never depict a sensationalized or artificial version of the world around him. His imagery allows one to sense both the power and quiet of nature. We were able to gather even more insight into both his lifestyle and his Mextures work recently and you can too by reading along!
My name is Kevin Bunn. I'm just a simple guy living in a small town in the beautiful state of Georgia. I'm an offset printing press operator for a large commercial printing company. I'm married to an amazing woman and we have two sons - they are the true driving force in my life. I'm also drawn to nature. I can feel the pull of the deep woods after I've been away for a while, in particular, our tract of land on the banks of Georgia's Flint River. I love to fish, hunt, and also to just simply observe nature. I have a high respect for all living things and I strive to be an ethical sportsman. I've always taken pictures while in the woods but up until two years ago I'd never shared them with anyone besides friends and family. Instagram is still the only social media I've ever participated in. I just want to show people a little bit of the place I love.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET IN TO PHOTOGRAPHY?
I would always take a Polaroid or disposable film camera on trips I would take with my dad. We would go to different areas of the southeast to fish and he always wanted pictures of where we would camp and the fish we caught. It was always my job to document those things. In middle school I took a photography class as an elective and my interest in capturing what was around me grew from there.
WHAT SORT OF GEAR DO YOU PHOTOGRAPH WITH?
The only gear I've used for Instagram posts in the last two years are iPhones - currently the 6s. I like the convenience and simplicity of the iPhone, especially when I'm lugging a truckload of other gear around the woods.
WHAT ARE THE APPS/SOFTWARE YOU USE THE MOST?
I use Mextures, Lens Distortions, VSCO, Snapseed and Enlight. I'd say at least 90% of the images I've posted to Instagram have been edited with Mextures. Lens Distortions has some nice light and fog effects. A VSCO filter is sometimes a great complement to a Mextures formula and I use Snapseed and Enlight for touch ups mainly.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
I just want people to see what I see. It's hard to explain really. I hang out in a secluded place - the river itself is public but the majority of it is not frequented by others. I started an Instagram page just to show people my place of escape. I feel like I need to be there sometimes and if there's something I want people to take away from my images it's that you should enjoy and protect your place of escape, or find that place if you don't have one already.
WHEN YOU ARE OUT SHOOTING HOW MUCH OF IT IS INSTINCTUAL VERSUS PLANNED?
There have been very few times where I've actually had a plan for a shot. There are certain places I want to photograph on foggy days or certain spots I'd like to catch the sunset, but for the most part I'm just loading up the camera roll hoping for a few keepers.
WHAT ADVICE OR EXPERIENCE HAS LED YOU TO PROGRESS THE MOST IN YOUR WORK AND STYLE?
Early on I began to wonder if my content was good enough or interesting enough to share on Instagram. @jsamples99 gave me some great advice after I asked her what she thought about an image I wanted to post. She said that what's important is whether or not I like it. Is it something I want to share? So that's how I approach things related to Instagram now. It's a lot more satisfying to do something to your own liking than worry about what everyone else will think. I still seek advice and tips because I still have a lot to learn about photography and editing, I just don't let worries about popularity dictate my approach.
WHAT DOES YOUR EDITING PROCESS GENERALLY LOOK LIKE?
It all depends on whether or not I have a clear picture of what I want the final image to look like. Many times I shoot from the hip and try multiple textures or formulas that I've already created or imported. After I've saved several variations, I'll look at each and start to eliminate them one by one until I'm left with just one edited image. I'll then apply that formula to other photos in the hopes that it will work on multiple images. At this point I have so many formulas and variations saved that if I have a specific look in mind it's usually easy to achieve just by tweaking a formula I already have on hand. When I do decide to create a new formula I end up gravitating back to some of my favorite textures like Window Wash, Fore, Autumn Skies and Okefenokee.
WOULD YOU MIND SHARING A FEW OF YOUR MEXTURES FORMULAS?
UPXIRWL (Window Stain) - This is a fairly simple three layer formula that naturally enhances and brightens. It works well on low light foggy shots.
EWJGHUY (Woodsey) - I like to use this on iPhone shots that look a little washed out. It adds color, texture, and vignette. It'll also add a green or yellow tint.
AZMZDRL (Down River) - This one will add a nice pink or reddish tone depending on the original color of your shot. I use it on low light dusk or dawn shots. Changing the film to Golden Hour is a great option with this formula.
QNMGEHU (For Brown) - This formula adds contrast and vignette and will darken an image. I gave it that name because I like the way it makes my monotone brown shots look.
VAMLBKZ (Formula 500) - This is a fairly versatile formula that adds texture, grit, and grain. It has a desaturated look for the most part but the Bonfire layer will pick up some red tints.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE MEXTURES OFFERS ANYTHING UNIQUE TO YOUR EDITING PROCESS?
That's a tough question to answer. I've really never thought of my Mextures work as something people would want to replicate and it's flattering to be in the position to be asked this. The way I use Mextures all depends on light. Certain formulas and styles only work with certain light, especially pictures taken in a wooded area. Just take a lot of pictures at different times of the day and many times you can get the look you want with just a few textures.
WHY IS CREATING IMPORTANT TO YOU?
My reasons for creating are quite simple actually. I just like doing it. It's very enjoyable to me. I like being able to capture and edit a place or event and share it with people. I've always felt the need to document with images and now I've got the tools to alter the look of an image to suit my vision and experience the reaction to that image from a bigger audience.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED YOUR WORK OR PEOPLE YOU FEEL HAVE MENTORED YOU IN YOUR PROCESS?
The entire Mextures community inspires. They're always willing to give advice, share ideas and collaborate.
Your question makes me think of some of the first Mextures users I followed. Some of my first inspirations were from @j_swaine, @arclesscurve, @_cantus_, @lesyoung77, @one_santi and @diamond_canopy. I find inspiration in the edits of @kateessmith, @landofnirvana, @david.loren.bissell, @bodneyboo and @jamiebettsphoto. I could keep naming people here because, like I mentioned earlier, I feel like my style is a blend of many styles.
I must mention these Mextures users that are always supportive: @eleathar, @jqnv, @midwestbliss, @charla_yvonne, @snehabhadri, @marbleinthedust and @boco_blondie. That's not everyone but for the sake of not writing a book on it I'll stop there!
See more of Kevin's work here!