We recently had an opportunity to speak with rising Instagram photographer, Brennan Castillo. We also asked Brennan for some photography tips. Brennan currently has close to 1,400 followers and he averages close to 400 Likes per post. Brennan can be found here on Instagram and he also posts his work on Unsplash.
We were searching for stock photos on Unsplash and Brennan’s work caught our eye. We wanted to interview him, so we could get a little background on him and photography tips. It was a great opportunity for us to get to know the people behind the beautiful pictures we see everyday on Instagram.
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1. How did you get into photography?
It’s kind of a weird story. I got into photography in December of last year…what’s weird is that I have never really enjoyed taking photos, even with my phone. I just randomly clicked on a recommended youtube video from Matti Haapoja and from there I began watching other famous photographers. I was so inspired that I made my first instagram account and bought my first camera. Haven’t regretted my decision 🤘🏽
2. What are some of your photography hardware? Which one do you tend to use most?
I use a small Sony A6000 mirrorless camera. Great quality images and super light! I have 3 lenses that I use. I have a 35 mm 1.8, a 50 mm 1.8 (nifty fifty), and a 16 mm 1.4. As I primarily like to take photos of nature and landscapes, the 16 mm is often the one I use most and the one I keep attached to my camera at all times! I also have a Gorillapod and a steadycam to keep my shots steady and smooth. I’m still figuring out the steadycam but I’m getting there! 😂
3. What’s your go-to lens?
My go-to lens is my Sigma 16mm f 1.4 wide angle lens. It’s my absolute favorite! Makes my aps-c camera look full frame, it’s super sharp, and the autofocus is really good!
4. What software do you use to edit your pictures?
I primarily use Adobe Lightroom Classic CC and Adobe Photoshop. If I am on the go, I use the Lightroom mobile app.
5. Best photo edting apps?
The Lightroom Mobile App is my go-to for when I am editing on the go!
6. What are some of the things that inspire your photography?
Things that inspire me? There’s so many things. The biggest inspiration for me has been photographers like Brandon Woelfel, Peter Mckinnon, and Frauki. Not only are they amazing photographers, but I enjoy watching their youtube videos as well! I always learn something new with Peter’s tutorials. Also, the community of photographers in my area give me motivation to go out and shoot! I love to see what kinds of photos people who I know personally can come up with!
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7. What drone are you using for your pictures?
I actually don’t own a drone. I’ve thought about getting one but, as I myself am still relatively new to the game, I think I will hold off for a little while.
8. What drone recommendations do you have for people who can’t afford a DJI drone?
Save up your money! It’s easy for photographers to get caught up in the “gear lust.” They want to buy all the lenses and cool tripods and gimbals without really knowing what they want to use it for or if they’re going to use it at all. When you know it, all your money is gone. Carefully research before making any big investments, especially with drones!
9. What should people look for in a drone?
This question has no true answer. People’s needs vary and different drones are capable of doing certain tasks. It all boils down to “can this drone do what I need it to do?” For example: If you’re just a hobbyist and want a drone to get decent overhead shots, go for a cheaper, smaller drone. If you’re a dedicated filmmaker and need high quality video and photos for a project, an investment might be necessary for a bigger, better drone. Don’t just buy one because it looks the coolest.
10. What’s the difference between a good and great drone shot?
This one’s a tricky one because I don’t own a drone so I will apply my knowledge of cameras to this question. I think the biggest difference is composition. Creative compositions are what separate the good from the great. The most common shot you’ll see from drone users is the top-down shot. Yes, they may look cool, but the begin to get boring after a while. A drone has the ability to fly. Use that ability to find vantage points and different compositions that you can’t get otherwise from the ground
11. What angles do you recommend shooting pictures at?
Angles? That’s also a question that has various answers. It depends on the location and type of photography you’re going for. For example, with portraits, there’s so many ways you can compose a shot. From down low, eye-level, top-down, etc. Just experiment!
12. What megapixel works best for drone pictures?
I’m not too sure about that one. I have little experience with drones.
13. Team Android or Team Apple? Why?
Team Apple..It’s just the way I was raised 😂 My first phone was an iphone and I haven’t jumped ships yet and don’t plan to anytime soon.
14. Team Nikon, Team Canon or Team Sony? Why?
Team Sony! While I love the look and feel of Canon DSLRs, Sony’s mirrorless cameras are not to be underestimated. They’re smaller and lighter which means no backaches during hiking trips. Their autofocus is, in my experience, incredible! It’s basically instantaneous.
The quality from my A6000 is on par, if not better, then most DSLRs in its class, all while being a lot cheaper and compact. The only thing I will say is that Sony still doesn’t have a huge variety of lenses to choose from like Canon or Nikon. However, when you have companies like Sigma, whose glass is incredibly well built and autofocus on par with the native lenses, it’s not that big of an issue.
15. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring photographers and photography tips?
Words of Wisdom..oh boy. I’m probably the wrong person to ask as I am still learning a lot myself so i’ll share some tips I learned from watching other photographers.
Make sure you take the time to learn the basics like shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. It’s tempting to just pick up the camera and take pictures of everything but learning the basics will help you learn to compose your shots better, expose your shots correctly, and get better looking shots in less time. When the sun is setting and the nice colors pop out, the last thing you want to do is spend 20 minutes trying to figure out why your shot looks too dark, blurry, or why your ISO is cranked up to 125,000.
The next tip, oddly enough, is to shoot everything. One of the hardest things for a beginner to find is their style and what kind of photographer they want to be. Shoot in the city, shoot in your backyard, shoot the sunset over the lake and from there you’ll begin to realize what you enjoy most. From there you can begin to work on improving your shots.
The next tip kind of overlaps with the previous, and that’s to remember to take your camera everywhere. You never know what kinds of things can happen out of the blue. Maybe the sky becomes dark and the conditions become perfect for a nice, moody shot. Or maybe the sunset looks extra vibrant today and the colors make a cool pattern with the clouds. You don’t lose anything by taking your camera wherever you go so why not do it?
Lastly, have fun! Make sure you enjoy the process of going out and exploring new places! You should be more excited about where you’re going then the gear you’re taking. Too many people will get caught in the gear lust early on and then drop photography all together. That’s a waste isn’t it? Don’t focus on the gear aspect and focus more on living in the moment and exploring new places.
If you’re motivated to go somewhere, your shots will automatically turn out way better than if you were forcefully dragged there. If you like what you’re doing, you’ll produce better images, and in turn you’ll gain more confidence and that’ll give you more motivation as the cycle repeats itself!
Brennan’s photography accounts: