Interview: Tyler Rayburn Shows Us Love Can Be Found in Our Darkest Moments

Photographer Tyler Rayburn first picked up a camera because he wanted to document the old abandoned buildings he came across while on an urban exploration. He quickly discovered conceptual photography and felt compelled to create his own visual stories, particularly as a way to cope through his depression. With visuals wrapped in the beauty of natural environments, Tyler strives to represent hope and love even in dark times, urging his audience to pursue their dreams. Drawing inspiration from his own personal struggles, he hopes his viewers can feel comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone; that other people feel this way too and that there is a way to live a fulfilling life.

Through self portraiture and photos with friends, Tyler has built a portfolio of haunting images that incorporate his love of the natural world. To jumpstart his career as a fine art photographer, Tyler started a 365 Day Project, taking one photo a day for an entire year. Now nearly halfway through the year-long series we are excited to share images from his visual journey.

We were grateful to be able to catch up with Tyler for a Behind the Lens look into his portfolio. Scroll down to read our exclusive interview with the photographer.

Tell us about your 365 day project.

I started the project to jump into a full-time career, strengthen my ideas, and create when I otherwise wouldn't. I quit my day job at Target in April to focus fully on my photography, soon after that I picked a day and started my project on May 12th, 2015.

So far, the project has been fun and I've loved creating everyday. I'm creating what comes to my mind and I love it. It's a gift to be able to wake up and have the tools to create my visions. I'm excited to see where the project takes me.

Each of your photographs tells such an unique story, how do you stay inspired?

The wonderful thing about inspiration is that it can be found in anything if you learn to take from it and harness it. I am most often inspired by nature and its unpredictably beautiful patterns. Traveling to gorgeous scenes is when I thrive the most in my creativity, When I see a beautiful mountain or a raging waterfall, I just go crazy with ideas!

I also stay Inspired by my fellow photographer friends: Kristi Frzier, David Talley, Pauly Pholwises, Kindra Timmerwilke, Gabriel Isak, Jessy Ivan Diaz Joel Robison, Peter Jamus, and many others!

How much planning goes into a shoot?

It depends on the shoot! I have a lot of ideas that I write down and save for later, but a lot of my shoots are planned on location when I'm randomly inspired by a scene or a prop or a memory.

A lot of your portfolio is made up of self portraits, can you tell us what you do to set up a shot?

I primarily use a tripod and shutter remote for my self-portraits, but sometimes I'll make my friends click the shutter for me or turn them into a human tripod!

When I'm alone I spend a stressful amount of time searching for a perfect angle and lighting. When I find it, I set up my tripod, use my remote and autofocus on my self, and switch the lens to manual focus. I make sure to mark the spot where I was standing to make sure I'm in the exact same place so the focus won't be off. I click my 2 second timer and quickly throw my remote and I do this several times changing my pose each time so I have a selection to pick from later.

I'm sure theres better ways do do self-portraits but I'm kind of a punk and this is my way of doing it. 🙂

It seems you are an avid traveler, where is your favorite place you've photographed?

The most gorgeous place I have ever been in my life so far is Banff National Park In Alberta, Canada and I'm really excited to be back there in just a couple weeks!

Do you think it's important to work with other creatives?

I think it is very important to work with other artists, I definitely prefer shooting with friends as opposed to taking self-portraits by myself. I'm kind of an extrovert.

Working with others can help you in so many different ways, I've learned everything I know about photography by shooting and being around other artists. Community and collaboration are key aspects in staying creative and I always encourage that upon others!

What would be your no holds barred, no expense spared dream shoot?

I really want to do a photo shoot in space.

How do you define your style?

Conceptual, fine art, anything along those lines!

What's a must have in your gear bag?

5D Mark II and 50mm 1.4. I've had a 50mm since I started photography, It's perfect for my type of work and I've learned it like the back of my hand.

I recently bought an 85mm 1.8 to change up my rig a bit and see what I can create with it. I love the bokeh it provides and it's so great for expansions! The lens has virtually no distortions so lining up expansion photos in Photoshop is so nice!

What challenges have you faced while creating?

Sometimes I don't have a specific idea when I go out to shoot my photo of the day so I go out into the forest and try to come up with an interesting idea. Sometimes my images don't turn out the way I want them to in the end, but that's ok because I'm not a perfect person. I'm here to learn.

What message do you want your photographs to convey?

In each image I strive to tell the story of a broken soul engulfed in the beauty of their surroundings, simulating that there is still hope in the world, and love can be found in our darkest moments. The reason for that is that just prior to getting into photography I was pretty depressed to the point where I wanted to kill myself, and I like to think photography played a big part in getting me out of that. I don't want anyone to have to feel even close to how I felt. I think as humans we go through tough times or have negative thoughts now and again so I try to create images that give the viewer hope and dreams in any circumstance or no matter what level of emotion they are at.

With that whole idea in mind, I really want viewers to pursue their dreams and what make them truly happy.

How much post processing goes into a completed photo to achieve what you are looking for?

I always do a lot of Photoshop work to my images, it's a big part of my style. From adding in a sky and altering the lighting, to piecing together expansions and manipulating different parts, I use a lot of Photoshop.

I made a joke once about being in a relationship with Photoshop because I fell asleep while editing and woke up cradling my laptop with Photoshop open. Scary stuff.

What are your plans for the future?

My biggest future plan right now is moving to Oregon in October! I'm going to be focusing on my 365-project and collaborating with others a lot. I'm not really sure what to expect but I need to take a big risk for my art. Yesterday I was driving in Portland and I saw Mount Hood in the distance and I got this feeling in my heart, almost like butterflies. It's where I need to be, or so says my heart.

Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

Oh gosh theres so much! Follow your dreams and your heart. Practice, practice, practice. Never give up; persevere. Observe what photographers you look up to are doing. Put yourself out there. Ask questions. Be humble. Stay inspired. Master your craft. Work hard at what you love and the rest will follow. did I mention practice? PRACTICE!

Thank you so much Tyler! If you would like to see more of this creative photographer's work, check out his website and Facebook Page!

Are you a photographer? Would you like to be interviewed for the Behind The Len series? Leave your links in the comments below!

Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content