Next time you see a young kid staring at an iPhone while at the beach, in the mountains, or somewhere scenic in general, don't be too quick to judge. Case in point: Cole Ferguson, 15, whose photographic journey began by picking up his dad's iPhone and snapping photos on a family vacation.
"My family took a trip to Arizona when I was 12," recalls Cole. "Like most kids I was just bored on the drive and picked up my dad's iPhone and started snapping photos. Along the way, we'd get out of the car at some really cool spots, and I really started getting in to taking photos of the incredible scenery we were seeing. That was where it all started for me."
Ferguson started up an Instagram page that showed his iPhone photography, and the page quickly got a following, coming it at 21,000 followers and counting.
"I just posted what I liked," laughed Cole. "When people started following me and giving me positive feedback and constructive criticism, I listened and tried to improve on what I was doing. I wasn't taking pictures to get likes; I was just taking and posting photos that looked cool to me, and by doing that, my followers just naturally grew. Again, I wasn't shooting for Instagram, but there's something very gratifying when you post a photo you really like and get immediate feedback through posting it."
At age 13, Cole got his first "real camera," a Canon T3i, with money he got for his birthday. From then on it was shoot, shoot, shoot.
"I started by shooting a lot of portraits of my friends and people around my neighborhood. I tried to get as creative as possible with these early portraits and do something a little different."
Through early experiments and trial and error, Cole moved on to shooting landscapes and action. "I love to surf, so shooting surfing was a natural progression for me," says Cole. "When I first started, I would call Aaron Checkwood and pick his brain three or four times a day! He helped me so much, and I still look to him for advice. It's great to have someone like Aaron who is so cool and such an incredible photographer to learn from."
It's impressive to see a young person with such a clear and driven passion. "I love photography," says Cole. "I know it's a tough career, but if you find the right job in photography, it can be the best job ever. I see it as something I want to do for the rest of my life."
Judging from the impressive body of work and massive fan base, Cole's on the path to hold the torch and continue on a similar trajectory as his photographic heroes, Brian Bielmann, Chris Burkard, and Aaron Checkwood.
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