Dylan Brown’s Accidental Photography Career

Dylan H. Brown stumbled into his art. Thank goodness—his photos are ridiculous.


It was an accident, really. He never thought that snapping photos could be a job, much less a career. But Dylan H. Brown figured that figuring out photography beat grinding out a desk job. At 30 years old, Brown now specializes in capturing striking landscapes and our movement within them, as well as a foray into combining wilderness and fine art. It’s safe to say that, yeah, he’s figured it out.

Like a lot of children of the 1980s, Brown was first exposed to capturing images by watching his father snap pictures with the clunky silver and black film camera that he toted everywhere. Inspired to be just like his dad, Brown took a black and white photo class in grade school. The third frame on his first roll of film won first place in the school’s art show. “It was crazy lucky,” Brown claims. Maybe there was just a little innate talent mixed in there, too.

In college, Brown did not see photography as a viable profession, so he initially studied environmental engineering. But a few days into his one and only internship, he learned that most engineers sit behind a desk all day. “Long story short, I changed degrees,” Brown says. “I learned my photography chops at newspapers and gradually shifted into the commercial world. Now, after all that, I still sit behind a desk…when I’m not hiking, biking, climbing, and photographing beautiful people.”

For Brown, it is still difficult to see photography as a profession, despite it providing his living. “It’s one of those careers that if you want it to work, you have to breathe it and live it,” he describes. “It’s not an easy game to play and I am super fortunate to have had several opportunities fall into my lap. I’ve documented everything from the aftermath of typhoons and wildfires, people living under bridges, politicians debating marijuana law to national football championships, Red Bull sponsored mountain bike competitions, and first descents of wild rivers. I believe photography has the ability to inform the public in a more direct and immediate way than almost any other medium. It can be beautiful, shocking, mesmerizing, disgusting…it’s really up to the photographer. Photographs have and can change the world. And that’s pretty rad!”

This shot is from the first SUP descent of Utah’s Escalante River. I think it’s important to create tension in photos and sometimes that happens naturally, and sometimes that happens with extra tries. On this trip, we were beat. Twenty miles every day on a river that averaged 30cfs, so there was no way I was going to ask Aaron Kloer to give me another go. Luckily, this was the final day and he knew what we were looking for. This is an iconic stretch of the river, right before the mouth of Coyote Gulch, with Steven’s Arch looming above.

 

My formative years of photography were spent inhaling horse shit and covering rodeos. Most of the time, I spent my night shooting under sodium vapor lights, which tended to be half green, half purple, and never bright enough to freeze motion. But on this particular night, as the calves were let in, so was a shaft of light. This was my first magazine cover and was captured on one of the least expected moments. I will always remember the scramble, trying to get in position once I saw the beautiful light pouring in.

 

Traveling can be tricky. And travel photography can be even trickier. Before going to Havana, Cuba, I had heard about the malecón and how it’s always wet. But of course, for my first five days, it was not. Then, after traveling around the country for 10 days, and while just passing through Havana on my way to climb in Viñales…and also having drunk too much rum…I stumbled out to the malecón. And of course, low and behold, the malecón was raging. Never travel without your camera, even if it’s just going to the edge for one last view of the city.

 

I love new angles. I also love graphic imagery. On a cold, blower day on Aspen Highlands Bowl, I just happened to get my camera out and capture this skier chasing down the shadow line. Just one more example of how important it is to always have your camera.

 

I might recommend finding a girlfriend who is stoked on photography, and also being in front of the camera. Road trips become less lonely and there is always a model around. It was Sarah’s idea to go to Antelope Canyon, and I couldn’t have been happier. It had everything a photographer could want: shape, color, and light.

 

Just like different angles, I’m obsessed with new perspectives. If a long exposure creates a new world, I’m all about it. This was shot 15 minutes from my house in Carbondale, Colorado.

 

There are some places that I can never get enough of and Escalante is one of them. The light in these slot canyons seems to change every minute. And within each canyon, there are completely new shapes. If I could photograph just one place, forever, it’d probably be the canyons of the Escalante.

 

This is part of an ongoing series, “Impermanence.” It’s all about exploring the impermanent beauty of the human figure juxtaposed against the impermanent landscape of southern Utah. It’s a dream project, directing and photographing models in a landscape that I’ve explored and adventured my whole life.

 

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Showing 5 comments
  • Ted Vandell
    Reply

    Nice work

  • Jeff Fujita
    Reply

    Great stuff. I have to agree with Dylan’s feelings toward Escalante. I first visited the Staircase three years ago and have made it my spring dry camping spot ever since. Love that Steven’s Arch shot.

  • Sarah
    Reply

    Great article!

  • Tonya
    Reply

    Great story and beautiful photos!

  • Arran Brown
    Reply

    Awesome article brother Brown, you are truly an artist of photography!

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