Taking a photo is one thing—making one is a whole different story. To put it plainly, outdoor photographer and timeless style expert, Brent Whaley does just that. Whaley’s work takes us back to a time where the outdoors were simply a way of life—not something that you skirted off to for a weekend trip. His sense of style effortlessly embodies layers and textures (just like his photography no less). We recently sat down with the creative mind behind the lens to learn more about what makes his mind tick, where he draws inspiration from, as well as the parallels between menswear and photography as a whole. With that being said, we hope you enjoy our chat as we step into the world of Mr. Whaley.

brent rocking the ojai and a packable lane splitter

Brent, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. You’ve been a close friend of the TS brand for some time now. Not to mention, we’re huge fans of your work ourselves. Could you tell us a bit about yourself for those that aren’t already familiar with your work?

First off, hope y’all are doing well and not going stir crazy down there. I’ve definitely been a fan of TS since the early days. I’m just happy I got to know y’all so well and all the people behind this amazing brand (although Luke did steal my voice). My name is Brent and I’m the Creative Director over at White’s boots. I do a little bit of everything over at White’s from photography to helping design boots.

What initially made you fall in love with photography?

I think, like a lot of people out there, I started on Instagram with my cell phone. Growing up in Ohio, I’ve always been obsessed with living out west but hadn’t spent much time on the other side of the country. I began to see photos of the all the places I dreamed of visiting on a daily basis, and from so many talented people. That is what really got me hooked.

Is menswear something you always gravitated towards or is it something you became passionate about later on?

Strangely enough I got my love for menswear from my grandma Whaley. She was ALWAYS on point with her outfits. Every time we would visit, it would end up with me and her shopping for clothes. I remember my first real job working construction, I spent all my money on clothes and barely had enough money for rent or food. This happened on a continuous basis. Only someone who is obsessed with style can begin to understand.

brent rocking the gibson

Do you find any parallels between style and photography in your life?

Absolutely. I think photography can be even more stylish than clothing at times. There are definitely photographers who have a specific style or look; when I see a photo of theirs and know it’s them immediately. The same goes for certain clothing companies, like TS, who just have a very recognizable feel. Beyond that, both require a keen eye, something that is difficult to teach and a boldness to step out, do something new and often times, set a trend.

This is likely hard, but do you have a favorite location that you’ve been able to shoot?

So far Alberta, Canada has definitely been my favorite, although I hope to hit up Alaska for a few weeks next summer. I have a feeling my heart might change after that trip.

What would you say differentiates your work as a whole? Did it take time to narrow in on your composition or is it something that came relatively naturally?

I think some of it came naturally—the ability to create a photo in my mind and then bring it to life. I have no formal training and have spent years working to learn and grow as an artist. When it comes time to actually shoot, I put in a ton of work. I spend hours on one flat lay. And of course, there’s nothing like waking up two-three hours before sunrise and hiking a bunch of miles just so you can get that perfect light and setting. I try to take photos everyday to keep myself fresh. I stick to what feel authentic to me and when I see inspiring photos someone else took, I do my best to make them my own. I never want to fall into the trap of just copying someone else or being complacent.

textural layflat of brent’s outfit

What do you enjoy most about living in the Pacific Northwest?

Everything. I’m within an 8 hour drive from Banff, Jasper, Glacier, Yellowstone, Olympic, Rainier and the North Cascades. I love being able to hike whenever I want, seeing snow-capped mountains when I wake up and breathing crisp air (not awful humid air like Ohio). Spokane is really underrated.

This is a question that we especially love asking: what’s one article of clothing you can’t live without?

My White’s 350 Crusier with a lug sole and Ojai jacket in indigo herringbone.

Lastly, what’s one piece of advice for someone who is looking to get into photography?

As cliche as it sounds, don’t give up or compromise who you are. When I started out, it was a struggle (to put it mildly). I had my iPhone and VSCO and that was it. I had no credentials on paper, no college degree, no idea what ISO was. But what I did have was a drive and a passion. It can be scary to pursue a dream and to feel unqualified at times. Just listen to your gut, do work you can feel proud of and of course, make sure you’re having fun!

shot of mountains
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