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INTERVIEW #05

Colin Rex

For Colorado-based photographer Colin Rex, being outdoors is a way of life. “I’ve always spent a lot of time outside,” he says. “I played a lot of soccer growing up, and would get home from practice and spend the rest of the night in the woods exploring the local trails with my friends. I’ve always made it a priority to spend as much time in nature as possible.”

And because of his love of the outdoors, Rex, who grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, found himself drawn to the lifestyle and landscapes of Denver, Colorado. “It’s a little more laid back out here, and more people are into the things I was finding myself getting into. Out here, I can drive three or four hours and be in the high desert or in the plains of the midwest or in the biggest mountains around – I love the access I have to all different kinds of terrain.”

Despite an increasingly busy career, Rex likes to live in the now. “A big thing for me is living in the moment. I like to be aware of what’s going on and commit my full attention to it. I try not to go half in on things.” And being in nature grounds Rex, it helps him to live in the present. “It’s so easy to get caught up in work when I’m at home – caught up in editing or planning my next trip or being on the phone with clients. I notice myself matching people’s energy levels, so I can be all over the place. But being outside – whether I’m alone or on a shoot – it just lets me slow down and take everything in.”

“A big thing for me is living in the moment. I like to be aware of what’s going on and commit my full attention to it. I try not to go half in on things.” And being in nature grounds Rex, it helps him to live in the present. “One of the cooler things about being outdoors is the feeling of slowing down,”

Even when he’s not traveling to new frontiers, Rex knows how important it is to get outside. “Just putting down whatever you’re doing and going for a walk can get you in your body. I spend so much time at my desk, and find myself so much more productive when I’m able to step away from things for a few minutes and get some fresh air.”

From an early age, Rex knew the kind of lifestyle he wanted to live, but didn’t know that he’d wind up as a photographer – in fact he stumbled upon the profession. “I went off to college and didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he says. “But I had a pretty good idea of the lifestyle I wanted to live and knew I’d do anything to make it happen.”

In college he took a few classes in media arts and purchased a camera to use for some of his school projects. “I found myself bringing the camera along when I would travel,” says Rex. “I liked how it made me slow down and appreciate my surroundings in a more intimate way.”

After college he worked for an outdoor brand called Arc’teryx, where he was thrown into the deep end of adventure sports like skiing, climbing, and cycling. “I’d bring my camera along on all of these adventures, and it brought a whole new perspective to what I was doing. I learned how to move around in the backcountry, and before I knew it I was spending all of my time in the mountains shooting photos of my friends on skis and bikes.” And before long, photography became his full-time profession. “I made it my mission to have photography fund my travels, so I started shooting small projects for friends and local brands and just dove in.”

Now Rex is a commercial photographer who specializes in travel. “I spend most of my time documenting landscapes and lifestyle scenes mainly for outdoor brands,” he says. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” he says. “There are so many times that I find myself in a world-class place – I just got back from two weeks in Iceland. I’ll be out there on a glacier or a volcano with my best friends and realize that what I’m doing is work, and I’ll think, what did I do to deserve this? How did everything lead me down this path to this specific moment? Those feelings outweigh all the stresses and uncertainties of freelancing – I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

“I’ll be out there on a glacier or a volcano with my best friends and realize that what I’m doing is work, and I’ll think, what did I do to deserve this? How did everything lead me down this path to this specific moment? Those feelings outweigh all the stresses and uncertainties of freelancing,”

“I’m really affected by the elements,” says Rex. “The things that make up the landscape and the weather. You know, feeling the ripples and textures in the cooled lava and the moss that grows on it, smelling the sulfur, the sound of the steam that comes up from the cracks in the rock. That full sensory immersion – it helps you never forget the time you’ve had in that place.”

Rex is ever a student of the world, always learning from the places he travels and the people he’s with. “One of the highlights for me is working with people who know a lot more than I do,” he says. “I’m by no means an expert, I’m just trying to learn as much as I can. On my most recent trip to Iceland, I got to spend a few days with a friend who works as a glacier guide over there, documenting changes in the ice over time for climate research. Connecting with people like that is the best way to learn about the environments you find yourself in. There’s no way I would’ve gotten the same experience just by reading about it.”

“The feeling of being humbled by nature when you’re out in the elements,” says Rex. “If you’re caught in a storm for example – the roaring winds, the pouring rains, the snow – can make you feel so helpless and unimportant in a really powerful way.”

Surroundings have a big impact on the photographer. “I’m really affected by the elements,” says Rex. “The things that make up the landscape and the weather. You know, feeling the ripples and textures in the cooled lava and the moss that grows on it, smelling the sulfur, the sound of the steam that comes up from the cracks in the rock. That full sensory immersion – it helps you never forget the time you’ve had in that place.”

“I’m really affected by the elements, the things that make up the landscape and the weather. You know, feeling the ripples and textures in the cooled lava and the moss that grows on it, smelling the sulfur, the sound of the steam that comes up from the cracks in the rock. That full sensory immersion – it helps you never forget the time you’ve had in that place.”

It’s clear that Rex is moved by his surroundings. You can see it in his photographs – they are imprinted with a love of what he sees in nature. “A lot of people are focusing on giant landscapes, but I find myself more interested in the elements and the intricate patterns that make up those environments.”

His hope is that this unique perspective will speak to people who see his work. He says: “I want to inspire people who may never go to these places to consider their relationship with nature and how important these places are.”

“I want to inspire people who may never go to these places to consider their relationship with nature and how important these places are.”

Rex is almost always on the move, and because of this, he is on a constant mission to downsize and refine his arsenal of gear. “Whether it’s camera stuff, outdoor gear, or clothing,” he says, “I prefer to travel fast and light, only bringing what I need. I like to think, what’s the most efficient way I can pack for this specific trip?”

When asked about his most prized possession for travel, Rex laughs and says: “I’ve got this backpack that is the most perfect backpack. I probably have 10 different backpacks but I only use this one. It’s an army green waxed canvas pack called the Journeyman. It’s really cool looking, but not flashy – there aren’t any logos on it. It’s perfectly unassuming, and feels like it was made for what I’m doing.”

Rex himself is a journeyman and traveling has widened his perspective. It’s helped him to have a broader view of the world. “I read somewhere that the most valuable souvenir is a global perspective,” he says, “and I’m a huge believer in that philosophy.”

Colin Rex

Professional Photographer

Colin Rex is a Denver, Colorado based commercial photographer specializing in travel, landscape, and adventure content.

Colin uses his camera to document man's humble place within nature, working largely with negative space to demonstrate the starkness of the landscapes he visits. His clean, minimalistic images capture serenity in the most desolate environments, where he combines photography, writing, and videography to create visual identities for leading brands in the outdoor industry.

colinrex.com

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