It’s almost impossible to describe Robert King’s photography without using the word “epic.” It just is. The 29-year-old photographer’s work is filled with grand landscapes that pop with brilliant colors and huge-scale imagery. It feels alive, pulsing with a certain spirit of adventure. These aren’t just pretty pictures, they seem to hum with the energy of the person behind the camera.
King is a guy who worked in tech and left the conventional life and all the money behind to live his dream of traveling the world and taking pictures. Now, shooting full time all over the world (with brands like Chevrolet, Lululemon, and Breitling) he’s just generally giddy about life — a guy who gets so excited talking about the places he’s seen and has yet to see that he almost stumbles over his words. He takes joy in what he does, but more than that, he takes joy in the grand adventure of it all. And it’s this joy that’s so apparent in his photos.
A million people can (and have) taken photographs of the same places — the same beautiful waterfalls, rock formations at sunset, winding roads through the mountains — and yet, they aren’t all the same pictures. Part of that is skill, equipment, or luck (light, weather, sky etc), but there’s an intangible force with nature and adventure photography. In the best shots, you can almost hear the breathing and smell the sweat of the person who climbed to get to the top of some mountain or ledge. And in the very greatest, you feel the pure exhilaration of experiencing that place at that moment in time. King’s pictures have that intangible quality that draws us to them and, in turn, inspire us to want to get out on the road (or in a plane or on a boat) to see the world with that kind of joyous spirit of exploration.
We spoke to Robert recently and he told us about some of the craziest experiences he’s had getting a shot, the views he can’t get enough of, and why it’s important to travel with no expectations.
How did you end up becoming a travel and adventure photographer?
I kind of grew up all over the world. My parents met in Saudi Arabia, and they worked in public health. And I was born into this traveling family. I spent the first, probably, 12 years of my life living in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Europe for a while. Eventually, we moved to Australia when I was 11 or 12, and I felt like I loved traveling because of that. Then when I turned 19, I moved to the US for college, got a finance degree, and started working for a sales company in San Francisco. But I was always traveling. Always doing trips when I could, but those were typical working schedule trips, a week here, two weeks there.
Then I got a job with a tech company based in LA, and I started to travel more and more for work. So, I would use that to tack on little trips here and there. I thought, “You know what would be a cool way to share this with my friends and family? If I got into photography.” I made the jump and bought a good camera. One of my friends in LA was a full-time photographer, and he encouraged me to go with a slightly nicer, more expensive model. I remember being really hesitant at the time because it was just a hobby. I’d travel; I’d take photos. But then that hobby became more passionate. I realized, “Wow, if I could kind of get good at photography, it would be a way for me to travel.”
At one point did you decide you wanted to shift to photography and travel full time?