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America through the eyes of Kevin Russ

Capturing nostalgia…one photo at a time.

Shortly after he began his trek across the western United States in 2012, Kevin Russ discovered two things: the beauty of the American landscape and what it means to go viral on the internet.

After publishing hundreds of scenic vistas and close up encounters with wildlife to the then-nascent platform of Instagram, numerous articles began to appear online expressing fascination with Kevin’s iPhone-only photography. Since then, countless publications have chronicled his nomadic journeys (living out of his car as he traveled from state to state), reveling in the “mystique” of the bearded California-native.

Despite Kevin’s generosity in providing interviews to those curious enough to ask, it seems as though the spotlight is more of a weight for him to bear than an opportunity by which to market himself. When faced with innumerable queries, Kevin doesn’t always have a glamorous or poetic answer. Rather, he has said on numerous occasions that composing a magnificent shot can be as simple as getting yourself out there.

“For my journey, I’m not doing anything so far outside the box that others couldn’t see themselves in that situation as well,” explains Kevin. “I’m just a normal guy shooting with an everyday device.”

While we like our heroes to prescribe secret formulas to every “success”, Kevin offers no such sales pitch. “I think a lot of it comes from shooting with the iPhone,” he says. “All my photos are in grasp of millions of people.”

According to Kevin, then, he’s simply a guy with a camera who loves adventure as much as he loves to capture it. Whether it’s a snowy mountaintop, a stoic moose, or an intimate portrait of a fellow traveler, the scene on the other side of his lens is the story – not him.

The common thread to these stories is, in a word, nostalgia. “Nostalgia is behind most of my inspirations, which is what keeps me going,” says Kevin. “I’m always trying to make timeless images.”

It’s clear how untouched meadows and heaven-bent peaks are timeless, but somehow, even the images of people and places Kevin has captured around the United States are equally in and out of time, like the photos he’s captured of his newfound friend from Asheville, Abby the Spoon Lady.

“She’s playing old time music on the street as her full time job,” says Kevin. “Nothing about that seems like 2015 and that’s why it’s inspiring to me.”

In sharing the images that inspire him, Kevin inspires us. And thankfully, as the bewilderment at his vagabond lifestyle has waned (along with the novelty of “iPhoneography”), it feels as though we have finally reached a certain kind of clarity. The fog has lifted, and we’re left to appreciate Kevin’s work for what it really is: outstanding photography.

While Kevin’s diverse collection of photos can be viewed on Instagram (@kevinruss) and ordered as prints via Society6, a new selection of images titled “The Western States” has been published in partnership with VSCO and Artifact Uprising in the form of a bound journal.

Buy The Western States through the Classfare shop.