From Producer to Creator
From Producer to Creator by @Kewiki
Kevin Kuster is a name you may or may not be familiar with. But if you don’t know him now, you will. He is one of the many individuals involved in a monumental project started by the one and only Josh Johnson. I first met Kevin through Josh’s feed and really found him to be a fascinating and amazing photographer. I had a chance to catch Kevin before him and Josh left for Brazil to speak to the Brazilian Instagram group.
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living?
A: For most of my career I was the Senior Photography Editor for Playboy Magazine, and Managing Content Producer for Playboy digital. Although most of my career had been focused on managing and producing, I am now focusing on being the content creator with my own photography and directing. I’m a partner at a startup studio called Creator Gallery in North Aurora, IL which is just outside of Chicago. This is a very exciting time in my life, and mobile photography has added to that excitement.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born in New York City, raised in Chicago, and went to school at the University of Kansas. It was quite a diverse move for me, and everyone asked “how does a city boy wind up in Kansas”. It’s a great school for art and design, plus, in addition, I got to see some of the best college basketball in the world. Go Jayhawks!!
I’m from the typical Irish-German family. My mother never forgets anything, and my father is detailed and passionate. This combination has served me well in my career. I have one son, and he has just started to show an interest in photography and the arts.
Q: If you could recommend some of your favorite feeds on Instagram to new users, who would you recommend and why?
A: I am really a big fan of several people on Instagram; however, the following photographers never disappoint me with their images. Jason Peterson, @jasonmpeterson, has an amazing approach with black and white images. Richard Koci Hernandez, @koci, has to be one of the best street photographers ever. Lucho Marino, @lucho_marino is a wonderful portrait photographer. Martin Reisch, @safesolvent, often makes me say “how did he do that”. Mr. 007, @mr007, is truly inspiring and very creative. Of course, the #jjcommunity, @joshjohnson, inspires me each and every day. In my opinion, it is the epicenter of what snap, edit and share is all about.
Q: We see your name a lot on @joshjohnson’s feed. Can you tell us how you’re involved?
A: That’s actually a very interesting question. I contacted Josh a few months back after the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre tragedy. I sent him an email encouraging him to do a forum supporting all those who were touched by the tragedy or who might have lost a loved one. I told him that photography and images can change hearts and minds, and I asked him to use his platform to spearhead a measure of healing. After a few communications, he invited me to come on board to help them develop #jjcommunity and the new app we are creating. Since joining him as the Chief Editor we have added three core members (Emily Gomez, @ohemg87; Michael Petuzzi, @yomap, and Jackii Sovern, @jsovs), as well as 76 photo editors to help review the thousands of image we receive daily. In some of our daily forums we can receive up to 25,000 images.
We’ve also just started a charitable foundation, @jjfoundation. This will be where we post and hopefully sell images and collages to raise awareness and donate all proceeds to charity. We’re also getting ready to begin a new mentor sponsorship forum. This is a very exciting endeavor for us and mobile photography, in general.
Q: I interviewed Josh a couple of months ago regarding the new project he and the team are working on. Any updates you can give us?
A: Although we are still working on several plans, directions and a new app for our #jjcommunity, we’re very aware that what we currently have is working well. We hope to continue to add new programs and events each month and completely expand and add our own touch to the term community. To date our @joshjohnson, #jjcommunity feed has received about 20 million submissions. That’s a lot of really dedicated followers who are passionate about photography, and specifically mobile photography.
Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to leave for new users?
A: Yes, welcome to the future!!! Mobile photography is exploding, and will only get bigger and bigger. Mobile photography is defining how we create and connect like never before, introducing people to their inner creativity. As for me personally, mobile photography and editing on my iPhone really put the fun back into photography. Josh and I fly to Brazil in a few days to speak at a mobile photography conference and are very excited to be right in the middle of the mobile photo explosion. Soooo, start shooting, try out a new app, and jump on board the mobile photography wave!!! I can’t wait to see your images, read your comments and hopefully see you at a local Instagram meeting in Chicago.
Thanks Kevin for taking the time to fill us all in on the exciting things you’re doing. Below are some of Kevin’s favorite shots. Be sure to check out his feed at Kevin Kuster.