Late last month, myself and Trouts Guide Dan Thistle had the distinct pleasure to spend a day on the water with photographer Max Kilibarda of Waypost Creative. Max hails from the Midwest, but he was in town for a wedding and wanted to get out on the water and enjoy a quintessential Front Range day on the water.
I detailed my own personal struggles with the browns and rainbows of Cheesman Canyon in a photo essay on the blog. Originally an engineer, Max left his desk job to make quality, thoughtful imagery behind his Canon. As it turns out, Max is pretty good dude and it should be no surprise, he's pretty damn sharp.
I didn't ask him, but based on his moustache, I'm assuming he loves "Da Bears & Ditka." Anyways, Max captured some cool moments from the day and I figured what better way to get to know Max than a quick six pack of questions. Check out some of his photos from the day and learn a little bit more about Max.
Trouts: You're an engineer by education, what motivated you to get behind the camera?
MK: A number of things came together for me to make that leap. I grew up around some great storytellers in my family; I learned the technical side of film photography in high school; and then in college I got the idea that I wanted to interview my grandmother in Montenegro on camera to capture some of the incredible stories of her life. She unexpectedly passed away later that year, but the power of visual storytelling really stuck with me from that experience. Working full-time in construction management for a few years after getting my degree in engineering, I realized I was on a path that was not going where I wanted to be. I was seeking more agency, more variety, and more space to be creative. Getting behind the camera again was an opportunity to find that.
Trouts: Which photographers have influenced you and provided you with the best advice?
MK: Super tough question. So many great photographers out there that inspire me every day. Below is a list of some of my favorites. There are many talented landscape photographers and many talented portrait photographers out there, but my favorites are the ones that seem to tie those two together to show the human experience of adventure; the kinds of photographs that draw you into those personal moments of excitement, calm, joy, or wonder (see: Jeremy Koreski & Forrest Mankins). I also appreciate photographers that will sometimes skip the big view and find those out-of-the-way details that seem mundane until presented in a new way (see: Zach Leon). We are lucky to consume and be inspired by so many great photographs every day in a way that we never before could in our history. In terms of advice, it has been really cool reaching out to different people on Instagram, hearing back, and starting conversations across the country with photographers whose work I admire but have never met (see: Andy Fortson).
Jeremy Koreski (@jeremykoreski)
Chris Burkard (@chrisburkard)
Forrest Mankins (@forrestmankins)
Carmen Huter (@carmenhuter)
Drew Martin (@_drew_martin_)
Chris Douglas (@chrisdouglasphoto)
Tyler Sharp (@tylersharpphoto)
Zach Leon (@zachtheleon)
Nick Kelley (@ngkelley)
Tyson Wheatley (@twheat)
Andy Fortson (@andyfortson)
Trouts: What stories do you want to tell with your photographs?
MK: I want to tell the stories of people and place. There are so many incredible people exploring how we can do things differently, from consumer goods, food, and travel to environmentalism, education, and social justice. And so many important places that need our respect and protection. I want to use the camera to both examine history and look to the future; highlight companies that are building better products and processes; promote the mission of organizations that do what is right, not was is easy; and inspire and educate people about important issues that need our attention. And in general, just shoot photos that get me stoked to be a part of someone else’s story and share that with the world. Maybe it’s an ad campaign or editorial shoot, or maybe it’s as simple as snapping a quick photo on the street or in the woods. A great photo has a unique way of simultaneously holding your attention and letting your imagination run wild. That is what I really want to do with my work.
Trouts: What's your favorite lens and why?
MK: It is tempting to pick the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L – an absolute workhorse that has really allowed me to shoot in ways that otherwise would just not be possible without it. But recently I picked up a used Canon 35mm f/2 that I think is my new favorite lens. It is small, durable, fast, and brings that classic 35mm perspective that gives you a feel for the surroundings without being too wide. Most importantly, it makes me want to go out and shoot. So much fun.
Trouts: What's the story behind the Waypost Creative name?
MK: Honestly, it stemmed from the uncertainty of what my next step would be when I quit my office job. A waypost is a sign that marks the way, guiding you along a journey. When I started this, I did not know where it would lead; but I knew I had to trust the process and go forward without letting the fear stop me from ever starting. Plus, it is a nod to the adventurous spirit behind a lot of my work. I love getting out into new places.
Trouts: Describe the first fish you caught on a fly rod.
MK: My first fish on the fly was an unreal experience. Living in the Midwest, I get cranky about the lack of mountains, national parks, beautiful river canyons, etc, etc. So when I created my 2018 personal goals, I wanted to push myself to find new outdoor activities and included “learn to fly fish / catch a fish on the fly.” I didn’t think it would be somewhere as incredible as Cheesman Canyon. And Colorado did not disappoint. Once we got in the canyon, I was so in love with the landscape that fishing was just a bonus. Fly fishing has an element of deep mystery and lifetime mastery, so I tried to keep my expectations low, thinking it was unlikely that I would have much luck. All of a sudden, I had hooked into a few fish and the adrenaline was pumping. Thanks to you guys, we finally netted a beautiful little rainbow that I could have looked at all day but was happy to release back into the cool, clear current. Since then I have had dreams where I am fly fishing a beautiful western river. Is that normal?