Featured Artist: Guthrie Collins

Featured Artist: Guthrie Collins

Featured Artist - Guthrie Collins

Since man first stepped foot on this earth, few landmark achievements have advanced civilization on such a monumental scale as the discovery of fire, the invention of the wheel, our mastery of tools and the slicing of bread. While we can’t speak for that last one, our guest today has found a way to take advantage of the other three, amassing an astonishing portfolio along the way. His work with fire has found him featured on some of the foremost photography feeds the ‘gram has to offer; his use of the wheel has caught him cruising the country from coast to coast; and his mastery of the camera is what brings him here today. It is our great pleasure to welcome fantastic photographer and all around decent dude Guthrie Collins to the UNTC blog.


As always the first question we like to ask is the easiest and perhaps the most challenging ... can you tell us a little about yourself, what’s your story and how is it that you managed to get into photography?

I'm Guthrie and it is an honor to be featured on this blog! I'm a 27 year-old photographer that currently lives in Western NY. I'm married to Alissa (the best person in the world) & we've got a dog named Leela. I'm a lover of life and someone who desires to find beauty in every moment. I'm originally from Michigan and spend a lot of time over in Michigan during the summer and on holidays. My family owns a cabin in the UP and that is my favorite place to take photos!

I honestly can't remember why I got into photography, but I just really love it! I am inspired by photographs and I long to inspire others to live life to the full through the images I capture. I bought my first camera when I was 16 on craigslist. It sat in my closet until I was 23. That's when I really started to get into photography.

As someone who has been out shooting for quite some time, what is it that keeps you interested in pursuing this passion? What still challenges you and drives you to improve your art form?

I love the process of mastery. I've been loosely tracking how many hours I have been shooting over the years. They say that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master of anything. I'd say I am currently around 4,500 hours on my photography journey. I'm really invested in photography, both personally and financially, and want to keep pushing towards mastery! I also have some photography "bucket list" locations that I cannot wait to travel to. The idea of capturing the beauty of these places keeps me VERY excited about getting out and shooting!

As far as improving goes, I've been trying to stop dwelling on that so much this year. I experienced some burn-out last year and have tried to make this year about shooting for enjoyment instead of out of obligation. I always want to improve, but constantly seeking after better is exhausting. This year has been about slowing down and getting back to the "why" for me with photography. I find that when I slow down and truly enjoy the process of capturing beauty, I tend to produce the best images anyway. I think there's something profound there that I am still in the process of learning.

Your Instagram profile lists you as Guthrie Collins (BrotherEarth) ... can you tell us a little about that last part?

BrotherEarth was my Instagram handle for a while and a bunch of my friends made fun of me for it. I loved it, but ended up changing it to Guth.co. I wanted to keep BrotherEarth incorporated into my IG profile somehow! 

You’re a Michigan guy right? Specifically Upper Peninsula Michigan, but lately you’ve been hangin’ your hat in upstate New York... what led to the change of scenery?

I am a HUGE Michigan guy. I grew up in West Michigan near Grand Haven. I have shot all over both the lower & upper peninsulas. Michigan will always be special to me because it is home and it is where I began my photo journey. I have dreams of moving to the Upper Peninsula someday, but we'll see where life takes us :).
I got married last summer and my wife & I moved out here to Western NY! We both work at Houghton college as Resident Directors. We love residence life and working with college students. We're enjoying this season of life in the NY region. I'll be taking photos out here for a few more years!

What do you love most about the UP and what do you miss most when you are away?

Wow, this is a hard question to answer because I love so much about the UP. It has been really interesting to watch the UP grow in popularity over the past 5 years with the rise of social media. No one used to travel up there, but now people are flocking to Pictured Rocks, Tahquamenon Falls & Marquette because they've seen photos of those places. 

I obviously love all the nature in the UP. The endless pine trees, Lake Superior, the stars, the sunsets, the long summer nights, the crisp smell in the air; it is all amazing. In addition to that, the UP is filled with nostalgia for me. My family spent summers up there, my best friend & I have so many memories up there, my life was changed at a camp up there, there is so much about the UP that feels like home. When I cross the bridge, I come alive. 

I know this wasn't part of the question, but it is important. If you're planning a trip to the UP, here's what you need to do. Eat at West Pier Drive-in in Sault St. Marie, do the Chapel Beach Loop hike at Pictured Rocks, see the log slide in Grand Marias and spend a day in Marquette. There ya go, you've got your next long weekend planned for you :). 

Ok, before we get too far into this I’ve gotta ask about the photos that first caught our attention and have had us obsessed since we initially saw them on your account  - the fire/ floating ember shots. What’s your technique for these and how did it all start?

I get this question very often. I actually made a Youtube video about this if you're interested in more details! 

I have to admit, the first time I captured an image like this, it was a complete accident. I was taking a picture of a fire and the wind blew some embers towards my camera. This created this incredible bokeh effect that I now try to recreate in other fire photos! Here's the basic idea. Shoot with a wide-angle lens that has a fast aperture. Throw something at the fire to create sparks (a small rock, sticks, etc.) and there ya go! I've been featured by a few large Instagram accounts because of these photos: @MoodyGrams @ArtofVisuals @CanonUSA. That has been really fun!

Recently on one of your Instagram stories you posted an ode to disc golf, a sport which it sounds like you take quite seriously... what is it that draws you to this particular sport and what kinds of goals do you have for yourself?

Wow, ya'll really pay attention! I love playing disc golf! It's a great excuse to get outside and walk the dog. I played college golf which was a blast, but doesn't fit into my schedule as much these days. Disc golf is really similar and in my opinion, even more fun. I've improved really quickly in the sport and have started playing in tournaments. I'd love to play in the Disc Golf World Championships someday! DREAM BIG KIDS. 

You used to post more drone photography than you have been lately, what drew you to aerial photography? What did you enjoy most about it? And why have you not been posting as much of it in recent months?

Aerial photography is awesome! I really enjoy the different perspectives you can get with a drone. The stuff people are able to capture with bodies of water is incredible. That was my favorite part about aerial photography. Also, the scale which you are able to portray in aerial images is incredible.

Long story short, I sold my drone on Ebay last summer because Alissa & I had just gotten married and were really strapped for money. Unfortunately, I got hacked on Ebay and they wouldn't refund me for the price of my drone. Very sad lol. We laugh about it now, but at the time that was a huge bummer. Maybe I'll get another drone again someday! Only time will tell. 

Besides shooting nature in all it’s glory, you have a second account on Instagram of your other incredible work - showcasing the glory of matrimony. What challenges you and what do you enjoy most about capturing a couple’s blessed day?

Yeah, thanks for mentioning my other account! I am a wedding photographer! I've been doing this for three years now and it is an absolute blast. I love capturing the beauty of authentic moments on wedding days! I'm not a classic wedding photographer in the sense of overly-posed shots & specific ideas of what wedding photos need to look like. My favorite part of the wedding day is uniquely capturing each couple exactly as they are! It is a privilege to be a part of someone's wedding day & I love every opportunity I get to tell a couple's story through images.

On that account you mention that you are “not a classic wedding photographer” what does this mean to you and why is it important for you to state this right up front in your bio?

I nodded at this in the last question, but this is important for me so that couples know that I don't aspire to produce classic wedding photographs. Classic meaning a ton of depth in the photo, posed images, zoomed in, etc. There is nothing wrong with these, that's just not my style. I state this very obviously so that couples can see right away if we are going to be a good fit or not. I want every couple to love their wedding photographer! It feels important for me to be transparent in this way. 

Everyone has their own idea of what the term Up North means... what to you is “Up North”?

Up North means so many things to me. It means spending the weekend at a place where I can unplug and remember that I was created to come alive. It means making memories with the people I love. It is a place that I go so that I can re-enter the "normal" world and challenge the status quo. It is a place that I go to experience God. When I'm traveling north, I am expectant and ready to experience life as it was intended to be.

We heard a rumor that you are taking a stab at eating vegan for a month... not to egg you on or try to make you chicken out but that seems like a pretty audacious stance to steak your diet on if you’re used to pigging out on pork or masticating more meaty morsels... only ribbing you of course (had to milk it for all it’s worth). How is it going and what has been the biggest challenge so far? Also what food do you miss the most?

First off, let me just acknowledge how well-worded this question was. As I am writing this, I am on day 19 of eating vegan. I would absolutely recommend this challenge to anybody. The biggest challenge was initially getting over my cravings for pizza, fast food, cheese, etc. After about a week, things got easier! I definitely miss Taco-Bell & pizza the most. However, it has been worth it! The entire way that I think about food has been challenged during this month. I no longer think in terms of main dishes & side dishes. I think about what nutrients my body needs in order to perform the way it was intended to. I also have enjoyed cooking vegan! 10/10 would recommend.

Are you a dog person or a cat person and how is Leela?

Dog person, but I like cats! Just a huge dog person. Leela is great, she's perfect & I love her.

As you are well aware a little while ago we asked our Instagram followers what kinds of things they would like us to ask you about during this interview. So here it is straight from the horse’s mouth...

Where do you get your inspiration for your landscape shots (They seem so original)?

Wow, thank you!! This is going to sound a bit odd, but I tend to see in pictures. Whenever I'm in the car passing by places, I think about how a photo of those places would look or how I would go about capturing a photo at that location. This helps keep me creative when I actually am shooting!

Also, Paul Nicklen's 20-60-20 rule. Go look that up and use it.

What is your favorite thing to photograph and why?

People in canoes at sunset. I can't tell you exactly why, I just love it :). 

Pop or soda?


Grey duck or goose?

Not a vodka guy, sorry! Give me an IPA all day (no pun-intended) or a cup of coffee. Only kidding. Duck duck goose for sure!!

Do you like theater? (pretty sure this is a reference to the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis)

Sure do! I'd love to see more shows in person once we defeat COVID once and for all :). 

Please let him know that I love that he doesn’t use long exposure for waterfalls (no question, just let him know).

Haha wow, I love it.

Alright getting back to the script...

What resources do you use for improving your skills? What have been some of the biggest lessons you have learned since you first picked up a camera?

Early on, I watched a lot of Youtube tutorials & closely followed a few different photographers! This was especially helpful for me with portrait photography. I would highly recommend checking out Peter McKinnon, Mango Street & Eric Floberg on Youtube. There is SO much to learn from different creators. 
I think the biggest lesson I have learned is to always enjoy the process & to create for myself. It is hard to continuously put out good original photography, especially on the Instagram platform. It can become tempting to recreate other people's images. DON'T DO THAT. Sure, take a piece of what you like from a photo and draw inspiration from it, but don't recreate other people's work. You are unique & have a unique perspective on life. Eric Floberg says it best in the sign off on his videos, "Lean into what makes you different."

What do you typically bring with you when you go out for a shoot?

I have two awesome camera bags! I've got an over the shoulder bag that my wife got for me a couple years ago that I LOVE & a Lowepro pro-tactic 450W that I carry most of my gear in. I've always got one of these with me. 

In addition, I'll always carry my Canon 5D Mark IV and my 24mm L series f/1.4 lens (it is my favorite!). I usually have my 70-200 f/2.8 in my bag as well! The only other thing I always have with me is coffee. 

What would you say is your favorite thing about shooting in Michigan? And favorite season?

I love shooting all the lakes in Michigan! Minnesota gets the reputation for having a lot of lakes, but Michigan has just as many. There are so many places to catch an incredible sunset over a body of water. I also love shooting in the Fall in Michigan. The colors in Michigan are unmatched in my opinion. I'm eager to shoot in the winter this year as well!

Outside of Michigan, what has been your favorite place to travel to and photograph?

I've been all over the west coast & have visited most of the national parks out there, it's hard to beat that stuff! I would say the Great Sand Dunes National park is my favorite place to shoot in the world. It is so unique with the mountains right behind some incredible sand dunes. 

In addition, Banff National Park in Canada is amazing. It is very busy, but amazing. I also loved camping in Oregon for a week in the Mt. Hood National Forest. There are some straight Narnia vibes out there for sure.

Do you happen have a favorite photo you’ve ever taken?

Wow, great question! This changes for me about once a year! My favorite photo is currently a picture I took this summer at my favorite lake in Michigan. The picture is a silhouette of two people canoeing during an amazing sunset. Before that, it was a photo of a man walking alone at the Great Sand Dunes national park.

Who are your heroes? (Photography or otherwise)

Paul Nicklen! He was a National Geographic photographer for a long time! He is able to tell stories through still images unlike anyone I have ever seen. My other favorite photographer is Nathan Peterson. He is a Monatana based photographer who takes stunning photos. I have a bunch of his pictures right next to my desk to keep inspiring me! He is not famous, but should be. 

My personal heroes are Gandalf & Dumbledore.

Any bucket shots on your list?

YES! And I will be taking this image THIS WINTER. I've always wanted to take a fire photo during a winter storm. I think I can get some incredible bokeh with the snowflakes mixing with the embers. I am planning on taking this photo next month so stay posted :). 

What’s one piece of advice you would offer someone who is just starting out as a photographer?

Just. Keep. Shooting. 

You will continue to get better every single time you get out and shoot. It doesn't matter if your photos were a bust or the lighting sucked or the weather wasn't what you had hoped for. There is always something to learn from. Also, don't compare yourself to other photographers and don't be critical of your work until you've shot for at least 1,000 hours. Photography should be fun & you should enjoy it (especially at the beginning!). 

This one comes from our previous featured artist Miss Northerner who would like to know... What would be your dream company to work with as a photographer?

I'd love to shoot for National Geographic (I know... what a basic answer :)). I'd also be down to shoot for any coffee related company! I've got the resume on hand and ready to go.

What one question would you ask our next featured person? (Anything you like. Doesn’t have to be about photography - it may or may not be a fellow photographer who goes next)

What is your most audacious & wild dream?

Time to pay it forward... who else would you like to see featured on this blog?

Nathan Peterson!

Thank you so much for your time.
Of course!! Thanks again for having me!!

For more great Guthrie Collins content make sure to follow him on...

Instagram: @guth.co
Weddings: @guthrie.collins
YouTube: Guthrie Collins
Online: guthriecollins.com

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