Reily Small is a passionate photographer, traveler and nature lover.
Reily graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a minor in Communications. Having spent his college career marketing and advertising on social media, it has become a huge passion and something that Reily looks to make a career out of in the future.
In the past year, Reily has only been home a handful of weeks and has visited seven countries while going on countless road trips. The last road trip was 8,000 miles in 6 weeks.
We interviewed with Reily about the power of photography, artist freedom and favorite inspirations.
Where do you consider your artistic home? Is there a city, country or neighborhood that inspired you to get into photography?
Western Australia. This is the place that I created the most content and felt most inspired. I am currently working on moving back there in the next few years so I can pursue photography to the degree that I want to.
What subject or person have you yet to photograph that you have always wanted to photograph?
I’ve always wanted to photograph a really bad storm, a tornado for example. I’m petrified of them but I think the outcome would be really cool. I spend a lot of time on the East Coast and am waiting for the day that I see a waterspout off the coast because I think that barrier between me and it would make me feel a little safer.
Do you photograph your vacations?
To some degree, yes. I like to keep some things out of my photos (my family and some friends), as I like to keep somethings to myself.
What was your favorite shot you ever took? Can you describe it?
The Pink Lake with the strip of land and then the beach. I’ve always loved abstract art and this reminds me of a lot of abstract art since you don’t expect a lake to be pink. I was in a four-person plane when I shot this and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
How does social media impact the quality of work for a photographer?
I believe that it pushes me harder. There are so many great content creators out there, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out. I look for sceneries that I love but also think my audience will love. Social Media has given me an outlet to share my work but also brings me some income, which goes right back into getting places to shoot. So in a way, social media allows me to be a photographer and a reason to be creative.
What power does photography have to effect change?
Photography has the ability to show what was and what currently is. One example of this would be the 10 Year Challenge. I’m not addressing the selfies and glow ups here, but one 10 Year Challenge that really spoke to me revolve around the environment. Photography gave the ability to show what glaciers looked like 10 years ago and what they look like now. It’s hard to ignore it when there’s visual evidence right in front of you.
What are the elements that make a photograph beautiful to you?
Composition. I’ve seen so many beautiful places in photographs but the photographer didn’t straighten the horizon or reduce whites. Editing is really important and there are some photographers that have the photography skills down pat but could improve in the editing field.
What are you trying to translate in your work to those who see your photographs?
Go see the world out there!!!! It might be a mindset thing but I don’t understand when people are content with never leaving their town. There is a whole world out there featuring beautiful landscapes and different cultures. Go explore and broaden your horizon. I hope that some of my photography helps people realize that there is a lot more out there and they should go enjoy it.
When do know you have the right shot? Is it only exclusive to your eyes?
My friends have always asked me how I know I have a good shot. For example, I’ll take 100 pictures of the same scene and to others, it’s the same picture over and over again. For me, I see every difference and those small differences are what dictate how I feel about a shot. It might look the same in others eyes, but there are drastic differences for mine.
What is your opinion on selfies?
I think that they work for some people but I’m not one to love being in front of the camera, so it’s not something that I care about. However, it’s nice to see selfies from people where their face is the brand.
How much artistic freedom do you like having when given a project?
I like having some basic requirements but love being able to take simple guidelines and just run with it. Earlier this year, I was shooting for a brand and there was a lack of communication over what they were looking for, which lead to me reshooting four times. This is a case where I wish there were more guidelines so I have a basic idea of what they are looking for. On the other end of that, there have been a few projects that I haven’t taken due to how restrictive the guidelines are. I love to be creative, not just be told what to do.
Is there something you are looking to achieve when you photograph something?
I just want people to go out and explore our world (responsibly)! I believe that traveling has shaped my life and can do the same for others. If we understood each other better, I believe there’d be less conflict in the world.
What are some photography secrets that you can share with our readers?
If you are having issues figuring out what settings your camera needs to be at for a specific scene, switch it over to automatic and take a picture. After, you can look at the image and see what settings the camera used. After this, you can switch back to manual and make your own adjustments based off what you are trying to get. I shoot fully manual because I love the adjustments I can make but there have been a few tricky scenes that I’ve used this trick on.
What brought you into photography?
When I was a freshman in high school, one of my friends passed away. I wasn’t into photography or taking photos and I realized that I had no photos with her. This initially got me into taking photos but I soon started to fall in love with the ability to capture what was around me and my passion just grew from that.
Which camera do you use?
How would you describe your photography style?
Landscape- anything nature related. I’m not huge into human subjects unless they aren’t the main attraction. There’s just something about nature that makes me freeze in my tracks and want to whip out my camera.
What time of day do you prefer to shoot, night or day?
Depends on what I’m looking for but I am more attracted to night photography. I am a sucker for a good sunset and I love capturing the stars.
The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration, what/who inspires you the most?
It’s cliche but traveling! I used to not care about other cultures or traveling but one trip changed that. I was able to see how other people lived and I was fascinated with the culture and art of the places I was visiting. I love showcasing what is around me and what I’m seeing because I think every place is unique and should be recognized.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
This is my go-to lens when I have to pack on the light side and can’t take multiple lenses. It seems to be the most versatile. For example, I shoot night photography at 18mm so it’s wide enough to capture the scene but the zoom comes in handy when shooting something that’s far away, like koalas. Overall, the most versatile lens that I own.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m very introverted. Large groups of people wear me out and I retreat to get my energy back. A lot of people assume that since I’m always on social media and traveling that I love attention and am a huge extrovert but that’s just not the case. I’m a big fan of self-reflection and alone time.
What’s the best part of being a photographer?
My favorite thing about photography is the ability to “freeze time.” I’ve always been fascinated with being able to capture areas that I’m in and being able to share it. The other aspect is being able to justify life on the road. I’m fortunate enough to be in a situation where I can take off for 6 weeks and still have an income and I am so thankful for that.
What’s your best advice for aspiring photographers?
Shoot. Just keep shooting. Don’t worry about finding your style quite yet, I can’t tell you how many styles I went through. The most important thing is getting the photograph and figuring out what you want to do with it later. Keep shooting and take multiple shots of the same scene- it’s not a one and done, you’ll want the variety.
What photography or art-related motto, quote or words to live by helps keep you inspired?
I actually have this tattooed on my wrist as a constant reminder to push myself in every aspect of my life whether it’s photography, traveling or the gym.
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