When nature is all you’ve ever known it’s bound to end up being your place of work, as well as your place of play. For 26-year-old Dylan Furst, photography is his way of combining the two.
His photography journey started six years ago. He’d just dropped out of college where he’d been studying film. He needed a change. Something to shake things up. So he bought a one-way ticket to Australia.
Now, the Australian landscape is undeniably captivating. Colours just seem so intense. The nature so wild. It was also a complete change of landscape for this Pacific Northwest born-and-raised boy. And its beauty inspired Dylan. He started taking pictures. Lots of them. Developing and fine-tuning his skills. It soon became his passion. And he started to get pretty good at it too.
At the same time a new photo-sharing app had just been released. It was still in its fledgeling stage, nobody really knew what it was about. But Instagram was fun. It was a great way of making friends back home jealous with enviable travel shots from sunshine-bathed Australia. “Back then you couldn’t upload photos from your camera. So I had to start taking shots with my phone. I thought well hey, this is a fun challenge.”
Fast forward to now and Dylan, as the moniker @fursty, has 1.2 million followers on Instagram. So he clearly rose to that challenge he set himself. His style is readily recognisable. His images are moody; the tones are muted; the skies are often overcast; nature is always centre stage.
“Right from the beginning I had a niche, which blended adventure lifestyle photography with landscape. But that’s just what I shoot, it’s natural for me.”
Yes, Dylan posted consistently at the same time every day, day after day. He also got a little boost from a Buzzfeed article. But it’s his imagery that catches people’s attention. “I don’t really like the word influencer. I’m not on Instagram to build a fan base. It’s a bonus of course and it’s great if I inspire people to get outside, but my focus is photography.”
As a photographer, Dylan has worked with some pretty big brands and travelled to places many of us can only dream of – like Greenland for example. “I’m really into Arctic landscapes right now. There’s something about those regions that I’m drawn to. It’s strange; there’s no colour really, but I’m just drawn to the feeling of being way out there, somewhere so remote.”
He’s still got places on his wish list that he hasn’t visited yet though, if you can believe that. Antarctica is one of them – Sweden, actually, is another. But he can now tick the high mountains of Colorado off that list.
Earlier this summer Dylan joined us at Fjällräven Classic USA in Colorado. The 56km/35mile trail was tough. It was hot; the mountains rise to more 3,600m/12,000ft and there was still snow in some parts.
“I’ve being camping and backpacking before, but I hadn’t done anything like that, walking consistently with that kind of mileage. It was tough and after the first day I was really sore. But after the second day I just wanted to keep on going; I was getting addicted.”
Like our other Classic events, the US version unites people of different abilities and experience with one common characteristic: a love of being active outdoors. And this is something Dylan thought was really special – the part of the puzzle that makes Fjällräven Classic so unique. “There were a lot of different personalities, but everyone had the same mind set. Everyone I met was really cool. It was an awesome event.”
Dylan captured some stunning shots for us, but it definitely wasn’t easy. Outdoor photography in itself is challenging. There are so many changing variables; things are out of your control and can’t be planned for. Then there’s the whole carrying the gear part. For anyone that’s picked up a professional-grade digital SLR camera you’ll know that they’re not exactly lightweight. Add to that all the lenses, and even before the camping gear goes in you’ve got a heavy backpack. “It was a difficult shoot I have to say. But at the same time all that hard work was part of the experience. I’d definitely be up for doing the Swedish version next year.”
Despite all the travelling, Dylan always ends up back home in Bellingham.
“There’s just something special about it here for me. Nature is all I know. I grew up in a little cabin in the woods with no neighbours. And now I’ve just bought a house of my own that’s out in the wilderness. I can literally walk out from my house onto a trail and disappear. I don’t think about nature really; it’s just my life.”
Well, when you have the deep forests, wild seas and rugged mountains of Washington state right on your doorstep we can understand why home is where Dylan’s heart is.
You can follow him on Instagram at @fursty or checkout his website Dylanfurstphoto.com.
Text: Sarah Benton