While chasing his dreams of becoming a professional photographer, Riley Collins is also using his talents to do some good.
Collins, owner of VisionaryBlur studios near Winlock recently offered to give 100% of the profits from the sale of his photographs to a friend’s family who recently lost a loved one. For the young photographer, the gift was just something he felt compelled to make not because it would benefit him, but because it was the right thing to do, he said.
For Collins, the love for photography began early in life. His mother was passionate about the hobby and he recalls her taking him and his siblings along on many shoots. Collins spent most of his childhood in Arkansas and moved to Chehalis when he was a junior in high school. While at W.F. West, he took photography classes and started a web site of his photography from sporting events where student athletes and their families could download photos of themselves in action.
“It’s always been a dream job of mine to be a professional photographer,” he said.
He graduated from W.F. West High School in 2014. After graduation, Collins said he drifted away from his goal of becoming a professional photographer for a few years because he needed to get a job to make money to live. But he never stopped being passionate about photography and continued to take any opportunity he could to create photograph. He said it was his girlfriend and her family that really encouraged him to push for his dream of making his hobby into a career and about a year ago, he put up a website and got serious about selling his artwork.
Though he does offer portrait photography, Collins considers himself primarily a landscape photographer. He said he is particularly drawn to the composition of a photograph and finding a new point of view for a subject.
“A lot of people hike to beautiful places and they take the same photograph of the same landscape,” Collins said. “I like the challenge of finding different views of the same places.”
Collins said after moving to Lewis County, he fell in love with Washington’s spectacular wild areas. Especially compared to Arkansas, he said between its mountains, forests and beaches, it feels like Washington “has everything.” He creates in digital content using a Canon 90d and a Sony Alpha, as well as two drones. He said he would like to try film photography, but has held off so far because it is expensive. But he feels like he has plenty of equipment to work with at the moment, anyway.
“Hiking into places is sometimes back-breaking for me because I take all my cameras and lenses and the drones,” he said with a laugh.
Some of Collins’ favorite locations where he has shot landscapes include the Nā Pali Coast on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and Washington’s North Cascade mountain range, which he visited for the first time last year and plans to visit again this year. One of his personal goals is to someday shoot at Yosemite or Zion national parks. Besides continuing to grow his photography business, Collins said in the future, he would like to begin blogging about photography and would also like to start a YouTube channel where he gives tutorials on different photography-related subjects.
Even while he is trying to launch his own photography career, Collins is also using his talents to pay it forward with his recent fund-raiser for his friend’s family. His childhood friend, Ashton Vansickel, who lives near Fayetteville, Arkansas, recently lost her father, Daniel Cunningham. While her mother worked outside the home, Vansickel said her father’s death has been a hardship for their family, both emotionally and financially, and Collins’ help was much needed.
“I wouldn’t say it was a shock because Riley is a very giving person, he’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it, but it was a huge blessing,” Vansickel said of hearing of her friend’s gift to her family. “It meant a lot to me and my mom and my sister.”
For Collins, the idea came simply out of his desire to be there for his friend’s family, even though he now lives far away. He said when he heard of Cunningham’s death, he wanted to help in some way.
“I’ve never been so good with words, so I thought this would be a good action I could take,” he said.
You can follow photographer Riley Collins at VisionaryBlur on Facebook or you can order prints of his work at Visionaryblur.darkroom.tech