Kyle Lightner was on a good one. Mag covers. Hanging with the boys. Going on trips. Really interesting photos were everywhere and all was well. Then he vanished for a few years. Not a peep from him.
We recently caught up with him to find out what happened. Apparently he faced some demons of the past and cleaned up his act. And now he’s back to his old ways of shooting really interesting photos and standing out from the sea of copy cats. We caught up with him and selected this short portfolio and had him caption them. Welcome back Kyle.
WHAT YOUTH: How old were you when you got into photography?
KYLE LIGHTNER: I was 17 and Kenny Hurtado (Watch Kenny in this Afternoon Interview we did with him here) introduced me to photography. We grew up together in Placentia, CA and lived a neighborhood apart.
Do you remember the first time you realized, “This is what I want to do?”
No, not really. It was just something that instantly made sense to me. I soon realized it was an outlet and a way to get out of my own head. I think too much.
I followed your work pretty closely in the past and then it was like you vanished, and now you’re finally back. What happened?
The past couple years as a photographer? Yeah, they were completely non-existent.
I stopped shooting in April of 2011 mainly because my drug use at the time got completely out of hand. I burned a lot of bridges with friends and clients through decisions I was making and kinda just fell off the face of the planet, always hoping it’d all go away.
I was embarrassed, disgusted, ashamed and felt completely defeated. Two years later, I’d finally had enough and reached out to my family for help sometime during summer of 2013.
Are you approaching photography like a career now?
I definitely approached it as a career for a solid seven or so years. But now I’m kinda back to square one, figuring that out all over again.
How did you develop your skills? technically and creatively? Schooling?
Yeah, all the technical aspects about film and processing I learned in school. I never really had a mentor. The creative side is just personal, I guess. Regurgitated inspiration.
Whos work has inspired you or made you think about the way you shoot?
Kenny Hurtado, Jeff Robson, Chad Cheverier, & David Tindale.
What are you into shooting now?
I don’t know. Shooting again has been a very slow process for me. I went on a few trips this past year, but wasn’t really that into them. I’d like to do something different, but have no idea where to even begin. I have been shooting all black and white since I’ve been back. I don’t know how anyone else feels about that, but it makes me really happy, so I guess thats all that really matters.