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6 Adventure Photographers Without Huge Followings that Inspire Me

Story by Ben Horton

We live in an era when the size of a person’s social media following is a measure of their success as an adventure photographer. It’s a time when a person’s skill with a camera can often come second to their ability to generate a following. Ability with a camera and a large following are not always connected and I find that the larger a following a person has, the less they take creative risks with their work.

People follow these Instagrammers for the same reason that Starbucks is still in business because they know what they are going to get. I know first hand that my own work is affected by this. If I post photojournalism or personal images, I won’t get very much engagement, so I post what I know my following will like and comment on.  As a professional adventure photographer, Instagram following and engagement directly translates to income, so it’s no longer a journal of my experiences like it once was, but is a fluid portfolio that changes according to the work I’m doing.

This is why I’ve stopped following the majority of the mega-Instagrammers besides those that I call friends. They don’t offer me the inspiration that I use Instagram for, and I don’t want to fall into the trap of shooting the same things that everybody else is shooting just for “likes”.

So, here are people that I do follow for inspiration, some of them are professionals, some of them aren’t, but they all have less than 15K followers, they post what they like, the speak to what they care about, and their accounts aren’t “designed” to attract specific clients or secretly advertise to you.

Take a look, tell me what you think, and help me find new interesting accounts to follow by putting a link in the comments.

John Lord Booth – 449 Followers

John Lord Booth is a highly respected art director, and his artistic sense shows in his photography. He’s not a professional photographer, but his passion shows in his images and he’s as good as most of the pros that I know. John’s work is taken all across the globe and falls into the categories of adventure and travel.

Eylene Pirez – 2,671 Followers

It always seems to me you can feel the difference between a photographer who takes an image for his or herself rather than for a following. Eylene Pirez is a photographer second to being an Astrophysicist. Again, her work comes from her love of travel and for the outdoors. I love seeing her work in my feed because it reminds me of what it’s like to have a passion for exploring new countries and using my camera as a journal rather than as a source of income.

Connor Guest – 1,285 Followers

Connor Guest works for Redbull as a data scientist, maybe it’s his connection to the media organization or perhaps it’s not related at all, but his surf videos, drone work, and his photography really seems to capture what I love about the water sport. I’m not sure if he documents his travels simply because he loves shooting, or if he sees it as a career path, but he’s really talented at incorporating story into his work, something most surf culture films are not great at.

Andre Kiryanov – 529 Followers

A human or a giant ant? @lindzwashere making her way up another stellar crack at Indian Creek

A post shared by Andre Kiryanov (@andre_kiryanov) on

I’ve known Andre through mutual climbing friends for years now, and he’s always got a camera with him. I only recently actually took a look at his work. His climbing photography is as good as any I’ve seen, which comes from the fact that he’s a really strong climber himself. So much of this sort of photography comes from being able to put yourself in locations with a camera that not many other people can. His other work is excellent as well, but I really appreciate what it takes to be in the right spot at the right time for a good climbing photo.

Emily Polar – 6,649 Followers

I’ve never actually met or spoken with Emily Polar, but I have heard a lot about her from mutual friends. From what I hear she’s a lot cooler than me, but that doesn’t matter much. What matters is that her photography really stands out to me as being authentic and natural. I like her travel photography the best as she seems to be capturing moments that aren’t staged in any way.

Ted Hesser – 12,800 Folowers

I just met Ted Hesser on a recent shoot in the Sierra Nevada, he and his girlfriend Martina had just entered full-time #Vanlife and I was lucky enough to join them for a few days of climbing in the mountains. Ted shoots for big brands, partners up with pro climbers, and has a real talent for adventure photography, but it’s his drive to place himself in really difficult to reach locations that impress me. Seeing Ted’s work reminds me of what matters in life. Keeping things simple doesn’t mean you can’t be living a fantastic adventure.

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