How I Shoot: Capturing the Colors and Characters of the American West with @iamstephensmith

For each How I Shoot, we ask an Instagrammer to tell us about their creative process. For more of Stephen’s photos and videos from life on a ranch in the American West, follow @iamstephensmith on Instagram.

For Stephen Smith (@iamstephensmith), documenting life on a ranch in Colorado requires a shift in perspective. “I try to imagine what the world looks like from the height of a baby lamb or way up high on my draft horse, Brutus,” he says. “My work is inspired by the contrast and connection between expansive, humbling spaces and the objects and creatures that inhabit those spaces.”

Here are Stephen’s tips for vividly capturing the colors and characters on a ranch in the American West:


iPhone 5S

Vantage Point

"At eye-level with the subject to create an intimate connection. If you are shooting an animal, for example, and it is shorter than you, it might be difficult to keep the horizon line in the photo. Drop down a bit, enhance the presence of that shorter creature and keep that horizon line in the frame so that the image has depth."


"I try to shoot just after sunrise while we are doing chores or just before dark. The sun in Colorado is very strong and a midday shot can wash out images shot with an iPhone."


"I use VSCO Cam or Afterlight, and Instagram’s new creative editing tools are convenient. I just tried them out with my latest post.”