This month’s Instagram Takeover features Roanoke, Virginia-based adventure photographer Kenton Steryous—Instagram handle @kenton_steryous. An avid mountain biker, climber, and fly fisherman, Kenton uses his well-honed photography skills to capture the beauty of the Virginia Blue Ridge in a totally unique way. From epic sunrise and sunset shots at places like Spy Rock and Devil’s Marbelyard to a skillfully captured Milky Way juxtaposed against a stark night sky, Kenton’s photos will have you packing your bags and heading for the hills. Read on to see some of Kenton’s favorite shots from recent adventures and to get his tips on adventure and photography in the Blue Ridge.
“Thank heavens for sleeping pads! Devil’s Marble Yard is an incredibly unique geological site in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge.”
“If you’re into mountain biking and live in the Roanoke area, Carvins Cove is a must. It boasts some of the best mountain biking for miles around—from downtown office to the trails in 20 minutes!”
“Milky Way season anyone? If you want to biggest bang for your photographic buck, Spy Rock is awesome. Hike up in time for the sunset, then set your alarm for 2 A.M. to capture the Milky Way, followed by the sunrise around 6 A.M. Just remember a jacket. Even in the Summer, the wind will be whipping and it can get chilly up there.”
“Since Blue Ridge Outdoors announced this takeover with a sunrise photo at Spy Rock, I wanted to share an image that shows off the photographic versatility of that land mark. With 360 degree views, it’s easy to capture both sunrises and sunsets. And with plenty of camping spots just below Spy Rock, it’s a great place to experience backpacking for the first time.”
“As a father of four, it’s very important to me to pass along an appreciation for the outdoors, and it’s simpler than you think. Step 1 – get to the top of a mountain, any mountain. Step 2 – Leave the iPad/iPod at home.”
BRO: How long have you been into outdoor photography and how did you discover your passion?
KS: I’ve always been passionate about the outdoors, but for the last 10 years I’ve only dabbled in photography, mostly because my wife is a portrait photographer. It’s only been within the last year that I’ve jumped in with both feet, and that’s mainly due to Instagram believe it or not. There are so many talented adventure photographers out there, and seeing their images every day was an inspiration to me.
BRO: Are you from Virginia originally?
KS: No, I grew up in Alabama, but I moved to Virginia in 1998 for my day job.
BRO: What is your favorite place to shoot in the Southeast/Mid-Atlantic?
KS: Wow, an impossible question, but if I had to narrow it down I would have to say Virginia’s Blue Ridge…it’s home after all.
BRO: One piece of gear (minus your camera) you wouldn’t head into the woods without?
KS: Patagonia Houdini jacket…fits in your pocket, and saves you in so many situations.
BRO: What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
KS: Rock climbing. I just don’t get to do it enough!
BRO: Craziest adventure/mishap ever experienced during an outdoor shoot?
KS: My wife and I were heading up to Glacier Point in Yosemite to shoot her on the “Diving Board” at sunrise. When we arrived, there was this guy highlining (what we call slacklining in the East). I jumped out and started shooting right away. But after a few seconds I began to look around. Chris Burkard was right beside me clicking away, too. Chris was one of the biggest inspirations to me in taking up outdoor photography, and to shoot right beside him was thrilling. Ryan Robinson was the guy highlining, and if you open up the inside cover of the August issue of Backpacker Magazine, you’ll see a 3-page spread from that morning taken by Chis.
BRO: Is photography your primary gig or do you shoot on the side?
KS: On the side. I’m also a Director of Sales for a technology manufacturer.
BRO: What advice would you give to an aspiring outdoor photographer?
KS: Just get off the couch! So often we can spend so much time looking at other people’s work, or reading and studying on how to get the perfect shot, that we never actually get out there and do it! Yes, you’re going to make mistakes, and yes, you’re sometimes going to come home without the image you were hoping for. But that’s when you learn the most. Just don’t be tempted to think that was a wasted experience.
BRO: Tell us about some of your recent travels outside of the Blue Ridge.
KS: My most recent trip was to iconic Yosemite. Honestly, Yosemite makes a photographer’s job pretty easy. With El Capitan, Half Dome, Glacier Point, Taft Point, and so many more, it’s impossible to not come away with an enormous amount of inspiration. It’s a life changing place for sure.