Enjoy our conversation with Timestr3tch, viewbug PRO member, who won the Concrete Jungle Photo Contest and received a new DJI drone.

What inspired you to be a photographer?
The main inspiration to become a photographer came from moving to downtown Chicago at the age of twenty-one. Being surrounded by such amazing cityscapes everywhere I went was the initial push that got me into photography and editing.

What was your first camera and what do you shoot with today?
The first camera I used was my ex-girlfriend’s Nikon D5100. After a year of borrowing that I bought a Nikon D750 with a 50mm 1.8 lens. While I’ve added two other lenses over the years I still use the D750 to this day. I would, however, switch to Sony in a second if it wouldn’t cost me a few grand to make the transition, cough cough, hit me up Sony.

When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from it, what are you trying to communicate?
I would like to spark a sense of adventure in the people that look at my photos. There are so many amazing things to see in the world and beautiful photos can be taken anywhere. I hope that my photos can give some motivation to others who are looking to start a new hobby, like photography, or even just get them to explore the city where they live.

What is it that you love about photography?
I love everything about photography but the thing I like most is the community surrounding it. I’ve made a lot of friends from all over the world and attended all types of events through photography. Being able to connect with someone over a common hobby is such a quick way to a fulfilling friendship.

What has photography done for you?
Photography has done a lot for me. The people I’ve met through it continue to help me grow as a photographer and editor every day. I’ve also gotten to visit countless rooftops in Chicago for photo events and even got a free seven-course dinner and suite in a prominent hotel in exchange for some photos. Beyond any material things, photography has allowed me to see parts of the world that I would have probably never seen.

Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo?
I really love all styles of photography but haven’t done too much conceptual work. For a long time, I was mainly just shooting cityscapes so the photos were pretty cut and dry. As I do more professional work I’d like to delve into more conceptual photos.

How do you describe your style?
I really don’t know how to describe my style. Is new age a style, haha? I like to heavily edit my photos in Lightroom and Photoshop and keep things on the darker and more colorful side. My favorite things to shoot are long exposures and sunrise/sunsets.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
If I had to choose one lens it would be my Tamron 15-30 2.8. This has been my go-to lens, especially while living in a big city. Being ultrawide makes it the perfect lens for capturing landscape scenes of all types. I would probably choose a 24-70 if I had one as the ultrawide can be a bit too wide sometimes and it’s a very heavy lens.

What are your 3 tips for others who want to become a better photographer?
I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing this one but practice is the most important thing you can do as a photographer. I would also recommend getting into editing by watching tutorials on Youtube. For me, editing is half the fun of photography and you’ll be blown away by how much better your photos can look. The third tip I have is to join a photo group. There are tons of other people in your city that are already out taking photos. Attending an Instagram event or a meetup is the best way to find like-minded friends to practice with.

Have you received negative feedback from your work? What did you do about it?
I’ve definitely gotten some hate on the internet haha. The one that sticks out in my mind the most is when one of my photos hit the front page of Reddit. Someone in the comments was arguing with me that I didn’t fix the lens distortion correction. I tried to explain to them it was an ultrawide shot of a city from a rooftop meaning that there was always going to be vertical distortion. The best part was that they downloaded the photo, placed it onto a grid, and re-uploaded it to show me how verticals weren’t parallel.

Where did you learn to take photos?
I learned to take photos by exploring the city that I lived in. Trial and error were my biggest tools in growing as a photographer. You’d be surprised how much you can improve by wandering around with a camera a few times a week.

What do you carry in your camera bag?
I carry a Nikon D750, a Tamron 15-30 2.8, a Tamron 70-200 2.8, a Nikkor 50mm 1.8G, and a Mavic Pro drone. I also carry a tripod, and sometimes a neutral density setup for my 15-30.

If you could have the gift of a great photographer who would it be and why?
If I could have the talent of one photographer it would be to have the editing skills of Mike Winkemann, also known as Beeple on Instagram. That dude is beyond incredible when it comes to light and color. He also has some of the most out-there stuff on Instagram, be warned though some of it gets pretty NSFW.

What is the most common mistake you see people making when shooting these days?
The most common mistake I see people doing is leaving their camera on auto when shooting portraits. The amount of “wedding photographers,” who take destination photos on a beach only to have the background almost completely blown out drives me insane. I usually shoot in Aperture priority and then use exposure compensation to make sure I’m getting the right exposure for a scene.

What is your dream location to shoot?
My dream location would be to shoot some of the megacities in China. So many cities over there are incredibly massive and look so futuristic. There’s nothing better to me than shooting cityscapes from a rooftop and I imagine there is no lack of quality rooftops in those cities.

How do you decide on where to shoot a photo?
The decision to take a photo for me comes from looking at a scene and finding an attractive composition. For every photo I end up posting online there are probably twenty that I don’t. I really like to take as many photos as possible because you never really know which one you’ll end up liking later on.

What is next for you? Any planned adventures with your camera?
I have some huge plans coming up. I just put in my two weeks notice at work and bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok. I’m going to explore Southeast Asia for six months and then move to Australia for a year. I’m not sure what I’ll do in Australia but they have a one-year work visa for Americans under thirty so I’m going for it.

What is your goal with your photography?
My goal with photography is to see as much of the world as possible. If I can use photography as a means to travel I would be thrilled. The future is impossible to predict so I’m just going to continue to take as many photos as possible and try to live life to the fullest.