There’s something magical about Utah. I call it America’s Surprisingly Beautiful State, just because the two times I’ve been there, I didn’t know what to expect. Photographer Quinn Hall captures the American southwest perfectly.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Quinn Hall - but I go by “strayfoto” across most social media. I work in environmental consulting doing GIS (geographic information systems - mapping) of fossils in and around the western states. Photography, although it’s paid a few bills in the past, is mostly a hobby, albeit one I’m quite passionate about.
How did you get started in photography?
I always had a point and shoot growing up, but I bought a Pentax ZX-50(?) in about 1997. A few weeks later I bought a Pentax ME Super at a pawn shop and I was hooked. Over the years I’ve worked my way though the Pentaxes, Leicas, bigger Pentaxes, and Hasselblads. I had a wet darkroom in my basement for about six years, but I moved and had to let it go. I’ve been about 90% digital since 2009.
What do you like about your photography?
I usually hate my own photography… Not really, but I can find things to complain about. I like the creative process most. It hardly matters what I’m shooting as long as I’m creating something. I like the post too - culling and editing, looking for something I may not have noticed in the field. Photography keeps me busy. I love a good project.
Your work really shows off the American southwest. Where do you get inspiration for your style/ideas?
I lead guided tours of Arches National Park during the summers and it’s interesting to see how people from all over the world photograph the park. Sometimes someone will look at a feature in a way I’ve never even thought of and I’ll use that and try to expand on it. Sometimes it’s the opposite - I’ll think “I’m going to go shoot over here just to avoid that crowd…” and it works because I end up seeing something most others don’t.
“For me, a camera is my way to…”
Stay busy. Create more, consume less.
What kinds of themes do you explore with your work?
I went through a Leica - lots of old cameras and Tri-X film. I spent a lot of time on “street” photography forums. In rural Utah there’s not a lot “street” style photography, but I think that time influenced my taste. I don’t mind people in my landscape/nature photos, and often find they add to the scene - in a national park a shot with people in it is more honest. I often go for form or composition over ultimate subject.
Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?
I recently completed shooting a couple projects and I need to move those closer to a final product. I’ve been working on a project of shots I’ve taken while running and hope to push that a little further this year.