Influencer Spotlight: How @itchban Captures Nature’s MajestyJanuary 18, 2017
At Infinity Squared, we’re always on the hunt for interesting, local content creators — and when we do find them, we like to ask them a lot of questions. Because we have questions. So many questions.
If there was an Instagram feed designed to make you do a double-take and ask ‘HOW?’, Benjamin’s Instagram is it. Full of fantastical landscapes that hardly seem real, @itchban is a feed of thoughtfully selected photographs that highlight the majesty of the natural environment, and the human silhouettes that wander in it. He also does Youtube videos, in case you needed more beautiful things in motion.
Can you give us some insight into your background – what you studied, where you worked? How did you get into photography and Instagramming?
I’m a self taught photographer / content creator based in Sydney Australia.
I studied a Bachelor of Arts (Informatics) at USYD and previously worked a regular, boring office job which I quit on a whim in search of something better. I was happily unemployed for a few months, just enjoying life when I bought my first camera (about 2 years ago at this point). I started documenting my time off, visiting cafe’s, museums, hiking at national parks and going on adventures with friends. Not long after that, Instagram put on me on their suggested user list and I got a good bump in followers. It was from there I started taking photography a little more seriously.
How would you describe your Instagram’s ‘brand’ and what was the process to getting to that identity?
My brand largely revolves around the idea of exploration and the adventurous spirit. As I am very drawn to the natural world, you’ll find a lot of my work involves natural light and being outdoors. At the start I took photos of anything and everything, and over the years I have honed in on what truly inspires me. It took a lot of experimentation to figure out what type of photography & aesthetic I was naturally drawn to.
What were the biggest challenges to building your Instagram platform? Can you give us some examples?
I believe a regular and consistent stream of quality content will help you build an audience and stay relevant. It has definitely helped me build my audience and maintain a dialogue with my followers. I post regularly (4-5 times a week) and have been doing so for the past two years. Finding the time and creative energy to produce consistent/continual content has always been a challenge for me.
There are days where I feel the pressure of having to post, but not having any content that I am truly happy with. It is normal to go through creative ruts and these times are the toughest in regards to growing an audience on Instagram.
How long did it take for your Instagram to build its following and how did you handle the initial lack of likes, reposts and attention?
I’ve been on Instagram since the beginning almost (mid 2011). I didn’t really start posting photos until 2 years ago though. When I first joined Instagram (2011) the whole “social media influencer thing” didn’t even exist – there was no fame or fortune to be had. Back then, no one even knew what the platform was for, not even it’s founders. People were posting anything and everything: their food, their pets, using it to document their daily lives. My very first picture was of my Converse Chucks in a warehouse (it’s still there OCT 2011). People were posting photos and content purely for the love of the craft, not for likes or reposts.
For me, I love photography. It is what get’s me up in the morning. It wouldn’t matter if Instagram didn’t exist, I’d still be doing the exact same thing – I’m just grateful that Instagram played a role in pointing me in the right direction.
What’s been the most memorable or meaningful experience you’ve had because of your involvement on Instagram?
It has always been about the people. The most valuable thing I’ve gotten from Instagram, was the opportunity to meet a lot of talented individuals. Most of my closest friends to date, I’ve met through Instagram. To me, that is far more important than getting likes or gaining followers.
Who do you enjoy following on Instagram and who inspires you?
My list constantly changes & evolves:
A lot of your photography is about getting that perfect timing of light or cloud and getting to very remote or striking locations. What’s your process of planning these shoots, how often do you travel out and how do you deal with less-than-ideal conditions (eg. cloudy when you need a flare)?
Of course I try to plan as best as I can: researching the location via Google maps, Instagram searches, weather reports. This is especially important for hard to reach locations. Beyond that, the rest is left to chance. I find it more rewarding when all the stars align and I get that perfect, serendipitous shot.
There are plenty of times where the conditions are terrible and I walk away with nothing, but I just try to enjoy the moment and have fun anyways. More often than not though, some of my most interesting photos have been from times when the conditions didn’t seem ideal. I think that’s what keeps me going, motivating me to try, even though it may seem pointless.
Which photograph was the most challenging to achieve for you? What did you have to do to get it?
A more recent challenging photo would have to be this one:
It was on my 4000km Sydney to Melbourne road trip at the Black Spur. I had seen photos of this place before and wanted a photo of the location in thick, heavy fog. There was something about the towering trees, hidden in fog thick mysterious fog that I just had to capture. We spent a whole afternoon scouting out the location, driving up and down the mountain pass trying to find a spot to shoot the next morning. All of that was dependant on there being fog the next morning (which was pretty slim as we were there during the wrong season). We woke up before dawn and drove to the top of the mountain and there was nothing; it was clear as day.
About to call it quits, we then spotted some low lying clouds that were moving through the valley so we dashed down there as fast as we could. It was pretty frantic running up and down the road, chasing what was left of the fog. It probably lasted only 5 minutes, before the area had cleared and the fog had lifted. These are the moments and memories that make it all worth it.