Instagram grows in reach and relevance every day. It’s the medium of choice for many Colorado-based photographers, who use it to share their photos of food, skylines and the great outdoors — whether they’re shooting in Colorado or around the world. But no matter the subject or the setting for their work, these photographers have one thing in common: They are all insanely talented. In honor of Denver’s Month of Photography, here are the twenty best Instagrammers in Colorado right now.
Escape into the Instagram world of Adam Goldberg. A “luxury travel” photographer, he can often be found taking photos of man-made architectural marvels at unique resorts. When he’s back in Colorado, though, he immerses himself in the great outdoors, capturing surreal images of natural marvels. This photo was taken at Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, a spot that Goldberg knows well. “Sunrise in the summer is very early, but nature in Colorado often rewards with an amazing light show,” he says. “For this particular morning at Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, I was greeted with beautiful pink skies all to myself.”
Adrian Narvaez has been shooting for Instagram for the last three years, building a significant following in the process. He moved to Denver from Orange County two years ago; last year, he quit his day job to become a full-time photographer — and never looked back. “I went to school for engineering, so it’s very different,” says Narvaez. “When I did engineering, I worked with alternative fuel for cars; it was still pretty creative, and I did a lot of design for fueling stations. For photography, it’s more social; you’re not as isolated. Photography is face-to-face all the time. It’s a little different, and it’s a lot more rewarding.”
Now his own boss, “I love the freedom to travel as much as I can, not being stuck in a cubicle,” Narvaez says. Next month he’ll head to Cancún, then Boston and Switzerland.
But Instagram has other advantages here at home. “Definitely the community, especially in Denver,” he explains. “Every single friend I’ve made since moving to Denver is from Instagram.”
Moderated by Jacklin Shapiro (@munchie_mania) and Bre Patterson (@BiteswithBre), @BestFoodDenver has an amazingly beautiful feed that’s a feast for the eyes.
The foodie photography scene in Denver is small, tight-knit and very supportive. “Whether it’s holding a flashlight over dim food for the perfect shot or sharing your wi-fi memory card with someone who forgot theirs,” says Patterson,“we are all focused on the same things: capturing the best photo or even the best lighting and angle, sharing the most original content and being the first to post. Regardless of the competition, my fellow foodies have become my second family.”
While the term “foodie” has been adopted by many amateurs, Patterson backs up her passion with a degree in food science. She’s been obsessed with food for “as long as I can remember,” she says. “I love how unique a dish can be from one recipe to another. I think each chef can tell their story through food.”
She and Shapiro are always looking for new food experiences. The page they’ve created is all reposts, which means @BestFoodDenver is that rare, participatory feed feast that includes photos from photographers all over the city. Very few Instagram accounts can make you drop the phone and run out to eat — but with @BestFoodDenver, it happens all the time.
Blake Rubenstein is a professional videographer whose Instagram account is a layered collage of bird’s-eye views of the city, capturing Denver at its most illuminating moments. Rubenstein is obsessed with nighttime shots as well as moving images, often taking to the skies with a drone and creating sultry energy with motion. As a result, the videos on his Instagram page are standouts. “As you know, that’s what I do for a living, but my IG videos are fun side videos that I put together specifically for the platform,” he says. “I want people to sit back and enjoy some cool shots, hopefully to cool music.”
This soaring image of Sports Authority Field at Mile High was one of his trickiest achievements.
“There’s a lot I could tell you about ultimately how difficult it was to be able to legally capture that photo,” says Rubenstein. “Years of time and studying, if nothing else, I suppose.”
Best known as the ultimate Colorado wedding photographer, for the past five years Brandon Reinhardt has been shooting Alice in Wonderland-type scenes that go far beyond the altar. But his obsession with cameras started long before that. “I was always the weird kid who would take a camera with him everywhere he went,” Reinhardt recalls. “I wanted to take photos of everything that I saw. Originally, I lived in San Clemente, California, so all of my shots were of sunsets and the beach.”
After getting a degree from the School of Photography in Costa Mesa, Reinhardt found work with big national brands, including Target, Soul Cycle, KRAVE Jerky, KIND Bars and many more; one of his career highlights included the opportunity to photograph professional “soul” surfer Bethany Hamilton. But Instagram has opened up other opportunities, he says: “The Instagram community is definitely competitive, but it’s also very close. We all meet up in our areas to shoot or for sanctioned ‘Instameets.’ We all learn from each other and teach each other. It’s very cool to see your fellow Instagram friends grow as photographers or grow in their careers. It definitely inspires me to be better every day.”
Although Reinhardt appreciates the platform, he recognizes that social-media trends can be fleeting. “I know that Instagram might one day go away and something else will replace it, leaving all of us Instagram photographers forgotten,” he acknowledges. “But I’ve learned to just really enjoy my time on Instagram and not take myself so seriously.”
In the two years since Brandon Tormanen was tapped for our first Best Instagrammer list, he’s grown stylistically, fine-tuning his art to a science. He now spends a lot of his time traveling around the country, documenting new adventures — looking down long roads, over cliffs and out into the unknown, discovering abyss after abyss.
“The fire image was taken on a quick overnight camping trip in Medicine Bow National Forest,” says Tormanen. “It’s about an hour and a half northwest of Fort Collins. A few friends and myself set up camp near the lake and got a little kayaking in before settling for the evening. I don’t really winter-camp all that often. When I have, though, it’s a completely different experience. So much more attention to detail goes into it. Way more survivalist in winter conditions.”
Chloe Rekow is the eye behind @MileHighandHungry, a foodie account that posts photos of the most decadent, most cheesy, most bizarre dishes you can find in Denver. The best part about being a food Instagrammer? “Being creative and being okay with looking like a freak in public,” Rekow says.
Here’s how she recalls one of her favorite food shoots from the past year: “National Cheeseburger Day was upon us, and I wanted to celebrate in a big, food-porn-esque way. I had a vision, and I wanted to make sure to find a restaurant that would help me execute it. Kayla @1000ThingstoDoinDenver and I reached out to Punch Bowl Social, and they were just as excited as we were. We spent over two hours building burgers, deconstructing burgers and running around the restaurant to get the perfect angle and background.” The result? A meaty masterpiece.
David Lesh is a professional adventurer. “Yes, I’m definitely an adrenaline junkie,” says Lesh, pilot, mountain man, skier and founder of Virtika outerwear. All of that explains why he has some of the best views of the Rocky Mountains sprinkled throughout his Instagram account alongside action shots and travel images from around the world.
Still, one picture in particular stands out: a view that Lesh took from an airplane as the sun was setting over the mountains. “I took this photo from the call window of my airplane as I flew from Denver over the Continental Divide towards Breckenridge,” he recalls. “We took off later than expected and weren’t planning on a mountain flight, but the weather over the Rockies was clear and calm, so we headed west to catch the sunset.”
Originally from Missouri, Eric Schuette has lived in Denver for a little over a decade, taking photos all the while. “I really enjoy imagining a shot, planning it out and then heading out at crazy hours in hopes it all comes together,” Schuette says. “The cold and suffering are fortunately quickly forgotten, especially if it works out.”
A professional photographer, Schuette does his fair share of traveling; he’s equally at home taking photos in Colorado and more exotic locales.
“The most challenging shot I took was last March, trying to get some shots of the Northern Lights on a beach above the Arctic Circle in Norway. It was pretty intense, but also amazingly beautiful,” he says. “In Colorado, there was a time when some friends and I were backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park and had to wait out some crazy afternoon thunderstorms before hiking up to a remote alpine lake to watch the sunset. While we were up there, my friend caught a sixteen-inch cutthroat trout with his bare hands.”
Garrett King’s audience has exploded over the year since he was named Best Instagrammer in the Best of Denver 2016; he now has 190,000 followers. A quick peek at King’s page will show you why. Based out of Fort Collins, King now travels the world taking photos for various brands and companies that he features on his Instagram page, including Highland Park Whisky, Sony Alpha, Avis and more. So far in 2017, King has been to Washington, California, Texas and the Oregon coast, and he somehow found time to shoot Ouray Ice Park and the San Juan National Forest here in Colorado.
One of his favorite images from the past year was a mind-bending shot taken while hovering like Peter Pan above the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. “I’m not scared of heights, so it was fun for me,” King says. Want to hit the heights with him? Follow King on his storytelling group @collectivenomads.
Continue reading to see ten more of the best Instagrammers in Denver.