DPP Home Profiles Michael DeYoung: Master Of Outdoor Lifestyle

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Michael DeYoung: Master Of Outdoor Lifestyle

The consummate adventurer, Michael DeYoung has built his career on bringing viewers into his vivid and active outdoor scenes

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Outdoor lifestyle images are big business for a photographer who can capture the real feel of being an adventurer. Michael DeYoung lives and breathes outdoor adventure, and his images are much in demand. Whether he’s dangling off a rock to get the essence of a climber making an ascent or he’s perched on a ridge taking in a broad vista of hikers in the landscape, DeYoung finds the perfect angle and the perfect light. Making that perfect photograph is all about attention to detail. The right choice of garment, hair style and equipment in the frame all are essential.

Fixing your eyes on Michael DeYoung’s adventure photography is a thrill. His love of nature and adventurous spirit burst from each of his vibrant images. Whether in Alaska’s awe-inspiring mountain ranges or the deep-red earth of the Utah desert, a portrait of an athlete’s (and an aesthete’s) paradise is laid before you. He inspires the budding athlete to put on those running shoes or strap the kayak to the car, and go explore the rich, colorful world in which we live.

The crisp, vivid colors that come forth in DeYoung’s landscape photographs give away his background in nature and wildlife photography. In fact, it wasn’t until later in his career, after some sound advice from agencies and colleagues, that he moved down the path of adventure-sports photography. “The supply and demand was more geared toward people and lifestyle,” says DeYoung. “I never thought about shooting my lifestyle until then.”

And that’s exactly what DeYoung captures: his own lifestyle. An avid backpacker, hiker and kayaker, he has been an adventure-sports enthusiast his whole life, trekking throughout the world, from Alaska, Baja and Costa Rica to his backyard of New Mexico and the American Southwest. Adventure sports are his inspiration.

“I have to participate in the activities to get to the place that I need to be,” DeYoung emphasizes. But he doesn’t just participate for photographic inspiration; rather, it’s his love of the outdoors and the sport.

Making the switch from nature photography to adventure sports wasn’t as easy as he first expected. “I was naive about it at first,” recalls DeYoung. “I thought it would be an easy transition, but it wasn’t. You have to think about lighting, style, art direction, talent. I’m still learning about it, but I’m better than I was when I started. Landscape photography is way easier in comparison.”

With sports photography becoming ever more present, even to the extent of being oversaturated with the work of both professionals and amateurs, DeYoung makes a unique distinction in his own work. “Let me be clear,” he punctuates. “I wouldn’t consider myself to be an extreme-sports photographer. It’s more like I shoot adventure sports that are accessible to everyday people.”

This distinction is what makes DeYoung’s work so appealing to a general audience. He enjoys having the ability to use rich, beautiful scenery as the background to people’s normal recreational activities like running, yoga or hiking. It creates images of real people in surreal worlds, inserting a level of fantasy to each frame.

“I’m adaptable, a problem-solver,” DeYoung explains. “I like the challenge of making something out of nothing. You’re making a photograph where something doesn’t exist. My overall style would be emphasizing fun, low-impact, Zen-like pictures—people and places where people say, ‘I really want to be there.’”


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