Like any job, working as a photographer can be a grind. The point-and-shoot assignments, the endless profiles, the breaking-news scrambles that don't leave time to just step back and admire the view.
Central Park, Aberdeen. | (Aaron Lavinsky)
It was that desire for something different that drove photographer Aaron Lavinsky, 27, to dedicate himself to the landscape while living in Grays Harbor, Washington, — and to document it using his iPhone. When he wasn't shooting images for The Daily World newspaper, Lavinsky would hop in his car and continue his explorations of Washington's Olympic Peninsula.
To help distinguish between his professional life and his personal project, Lavinsky took a lighter approach to his usual equipment.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't bring my big camera with me most of the time in my trunk, especially to shoot wild art for the paper," Lavinsky says. "But using my cell phone (for this series) was liberating. It allowed me to just have fun with photography and be more focused on the experience of being in the outdoors."
Lake Crescent, Olympic Mountains. | (Aaron Lavinsky)
The resulting images are relatively small — shooting with an iPhone will do that — and yet still incredibly engaging, like the worn snapshots of strangers you might uncover at a flea market. The hazy, ethereal scenes speak to a bygone era where there's time to fly a kite, dive into an icy lake, or watch a deer roam the park for food.
Lavinsky used the iPhone app Hipstamatic to develop the black-and-white motif; he tried it on the first few images he shot, and liked it so much that he wound up developing the entire series sans color.
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park. | (Aaron Lavinsky)
Lake Quinault, Olympic National Park. | (Aaron Lavinsky)
Lavinsky, who now lives in Minneapolis and shoots for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, says his biggest regret with the series was not having more time to travel farther out on his day trips.
"I wish I got to spend more time further up the (Olympic) Peninsula. It's such a huge area," he says. "The Hoh Rain Forest and Lake Crescent were jaw-droppingly beautiful, and I only visited a handful of times."
But in this uniquely saturated locale, Lavinsky managed to find his own splendor within an hour's drive.
"The rain is what makes the area so incredible," he says. "It's wet, green, full of natural energy. The earth is alive in so many ways, wherever you look. I've never felt as connected to an environment as I did living in Washington. The surroundings were constantly inspiring."
Ruby Beach, Olympic Peninsula. | (Aaron Lavinsky)
Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park. | (Aaron Lavinsky)
Taholah Beach, Taholah. | (Aaron Lavinsky)
The best part of the series is that Lavinsky was far from alone while shooting it. With no deadlines to meet or requirements besides the ones he created for himself, Lavinsky used the project as a reason to gather friends or family and spend a day together.
"I always took a lot of photos, but mostly I was just enjoying the new surroundings with people I hold close to my heart," he says. "That's what it's all about at the end of the day."