Editor's note: Jackson McAtee is on Collegian staff.
Beneath sophomore Kyle Maxwell’s calm and collected exterior is a talented self-taught photographer and videographer. Over the last few years, Maxwell has honed his skills through watching YouTube tutorials, and turned his passion into a commercial venture that he hopes to expand.
After receiving a camera for Christmas in his junior year of high school, Maxwell started to take pictures as a way to get out of the house, explore new places and find different ways to look at the world.
He mostly took photos of nature during family vacations and trips to Idaho, where he had lived for part of his life and ski raced before moving to Boston.
During one of these trips, Maxwell’s friend from home, Jack Ablon -- who shares Maxwell’s passion for photography -- recalls them spending hours shooting time lapses of sunsets and videos of wildlife.
“That’s when I really began to realize that he could do some pretty special things with a camera,” Ablon said.
Maxwell continued to dabble in photography in his senior year. One of his friends was taking a photography class at the time. To help him out, Maxwell took pictures and gave them to his friend to submit as his own. One of the photos ended up as the school’s "Photo of the Month."
“My friend’s mom hung the photo up in their bathroom at home,” Maxwell said. “She had no idea her son didn’t actually take it.”
Although Maxwell’s friends from home support his work, Maxwell said that when he came to UR, some of the friends he made were less receptive.
“I think a lot of people think what I do is ‘soft’ or not ‘manly’ enough,” Maxwell said. “It’s a shame because it’s just what I like to do.”
But some of Maxwell’s friends have encouraged him from the start.
“I think it’s good to be your own person and easy not to be,” sophomore Jackson McAtee said. “That’s why I like to hang out with Kyle, because he’ll do whatever he wants and I look up to him for that.”
McAtee met Maxwell when they were in the same orientation group their first year. Maxwell was quiet and seemed like a pretty cool guy, McAtee said.
Before they knew each other well, McAtee recalls asking Maxwell what he had done the night before and Maxwell responding that he had gone around the lake to take pictures.
“I was so surprised this big hockey guy did photography,” he said.
As a self-taught photographer and videographer, Maxwell continues to watch YouTube tutorials to improve his camera techniques and editing skills.
Most recently, Maxwell collaborated with Miss Priss Tea, a mobile tea parlor in Richmond, to create marketing materials for the company.
Patricia Bradby, the owner of Miss Priss Tea, said Maxwell had been prepared when he came to their first meeting. He had ideas to pitch and a solid understanding of her company brand.
“That awareness shows a certain level of professionalism that I wouldn’t expect of someone who is just starting out with his video and photo business,” Bradby said.
“His eye for angles and details is amazing,” she added, when talking of the finished result. “The photos and videos were so beautifully done and turned out better than I had imagined.”
Maxwell has also started to take photographs at concerts, something he was inspired to do after attending the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival in Montreal, Canada.
“Standing in the crowd, there are so many people. It’s disgusting,” he said. “I would see the photographers in their own little section in front of the stage and say, ‘That’s where I want to be.’”
At the beginning of this semester, Maxwell contacted the managers of 30 artists performing in Richmond. He got a response and was able to photograph British artist Barns Courtney at the National earlier this semester in the photo pit.
Maxwell is currently interested in taking pictures in urban settings. He often goes into Boston when he is home to film footage of city life and find new locations for shoots. Inspired by photographer Brandon Woelfel’s work, he plans to start experimenting with placing his subjects in the midst of various accessories and lights that add a “different touch,” Maxwell said.
“The work that he’s producing right now has a way of capturing scenes with a certain intensity and clarity that honestly just makes me say ‘that’s sick’ every time I see it,” Ablon said.
The range of subjects and settings found in Maxwell’s work in some way mirrors Maxwell’s well-rounded approach to life.
“I think it’s awesome how Kyle is a Renaissance man,” said sophomore Gavin Haas, one of Maxwell’s close friends. “He’s a diligent student, cares about being healthy and working out and also follows his passion. To be honest, I’m pretty jealous.”
Contact contributor Alice Millerchip at firstname.lastname@example.org.