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It’s become taboo to ask people what they do for a living, as though somehow inquiring into how a person spends the majority of their waking day is an automatic slippery slope to judging their socioeconomic status. Sure, it could be. The question may also provide the teensiest bit of insight around what a person values and where their interests lie.

Bradley Castaneda’s Instagram feed doesn’t really give any indication of what his work is, which is frequently the calling card of a full-time photographer. Great shots. Consistent theme. And, let’s face it, a seemingly endless adventure to beautiful places.

So when you hear that Castaneda isn’t a full-time professional photographer, his feed becomes even more intriguing. He’s not getting paid to spend sunrise and evenings and weekends in his beloved Cascades, he busts his ass to be there because it’s what he loves. Castaneda is full-time designer at a startup, and he shoots professionally in his spare time, so long as it fits in with his addiction to travel and solo time in the mountains.

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Follow him @bradleycastaneda.

Since we’re running with this theme: When you were 10-years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I can’t remember my exact life goals at age 10, but I can tell you that at a very young age I had already imagined myself in this career field. My first camera was given to me in my teenage years. It was a Minolta 35mm passed down to me from my late sister. I immediately fell in love with it and shooting became routine.

That’s a perfect segue, as your feed opens with: “If you love what you’re doing then you’ve already succeeded.”
That quote stuck out to me initially because of its simplicity. When the complications of major life situations are presented, the answer is usually always very simple. This mindset is what has gotten me where I am today, and I’m sure will see me further on in my life.

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It seems like you also have a simple equation for ensuring you spend time in the mountains: make it happen.
Generally I’ll wake up at 4 a.m. just to be ready for the sunrise. I try to be either driving or hiking during the golden hour. If the sun beats me, I sort of beat myself down for missing it. A successful day to me is sitting with an incredible view just as the golden hour is beginning to fire.

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Are the alpine starts responsible for the insane light shows in your photos?
Vibrant colors are something that I love to capture. The tones created when the sun is low on the horizon are what I’ve intentionally chosen to hunt down and incorporate in the elements that make up my own style.

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So maybe that’s what it all boils down to. We should all ask ourselves, “What are we willing to lose sleep for?”
I’m proud of the way I’ve adapted adventures into a busy life. Prior to my current gig, which admittedly allows for much more freedom, I worked 9-to-5 in a large design agency in downtown Seattle. I would commute for 45 minutes by train, work a 7.5-hour day, then commute 45 minutes back home. I would eat a quick dinner, then run off to the mountains to get my fix. Those who say it’s hard to have a mid-week adventure while working a 9-to-5 job just aren’t trying hard enough to make it happen.

And now?
Now, with a much more open schedule, I’m able to really appreciate my time outdoors. In my spare time I try to travel and spend time alone in the mountains. I thoroughly enjoy trips with my wife and close friends, but getting out to the mountains alone and just enjoying the solitude and creative freedom is something that recharges my batteries in a completely different way. It’s become an addiction.

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Photos by Bradley Castaneda, via Instagram.


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