Clayton Bruce Lyon
Would you mind introducing yourself? Hi! I’m Clayton Bruce Lyon. I’m an American photographer and video/motion graphics producer. I grew up in the Kansas City area and moved to Arkansas to go to school, where I met my wife Lorie, who is also a photographer. Currently, we are working and travelling in New Zealand.
Clayton’s Instagram - @sea_lyon
How would you describe your style of photography? My photographic style is probably best described as vivid but formal, if that makes sense. By that I mean I like to find colours and textures that stand out and emphasize them with a flash or by some other means, and that my compositions are usually pretty lined-up and symmetrical. I like when my images feel like they could be the set of a stage play. I’m drawn to taking photos of scenes that inspire an ethereal, lonely, or nostalgic feeling, but I find myself wanting to expand on that every time I go out and shoot, and sometimes what I’m looking for depends on the project I’m working on.
When did you first fall in love with taking photos? I would say it wasn’t until I went to school to learn filmmaking. I liked movies a lot and just thought it would be fun, but I hadn’t really had any experience in the arts until then. My brother gave me a camera the summer before college and I kind of just fell in love with photography over time and that culminated in me getting a degree in it. Photography has become my way to communicate and express myself, which is really rewarding and fun for me, if nothing else!
Do you have a favourite photography related memory, whether it be in front or behind the camera? I have a lot of great memories but one that stands out is the first time I went to New Zealand in 2016 as a part of a school trip where we worked with and designed a website for a non-profit eco-conservation organization. I learned and grew so much in that environment because I had some amazing peers and we pushed each other to improve. It helped that it was such a hands-on and independent study in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. We also had a lot of fun. I fondly recall going on a week-long road trip with several close friends across the north island, sleeping in our (cramped) van in empty parking lots and finding some truly incredible scenes.
What inspires your photography? I’m most inspired by my peers, who I am constantly impressed by. I love seeking out new photographers and artists because almost every time I meet someone new or see how they work I learn something new and find a fresh perspective in their work. I am also heavily influenced by a number of great contemporary photographers such as Alec Soth, Max Pinckers, Bryan Schutmaat, and many others.
What kind of camera do you use? My digital is a Canon 5D Mk3. I use that for most of my work because it’s so cheap and convenient to shoot on. But my favourite camera right now is my new Yashica t5. It’s just a tiny little 35mm compact film camera with Zeiss glass and a built-in flash. I can’t use it enough. I also love to shoot my Mamiya 7, which is a pretty incredible medium format rangefinder. The only reason I don’t use it more is because the light meter isn’t working right now.
What's your editing process like? For digital: Throw it into Lightroom like 6 months after shooting it. Then I go through all the pics assigning ratings and narrow down the selection until I have a handful that I like. Then I start editing them. Usually, I apply a VSCO preset and go from there. Then I copy and paste the settings to the next photo and repeat. For film: send it off to get processed, wait for the scans, then apply some edits just like the digital ones and proceed. But I’m planning on building a darkroom soon and investing in a nice drum scanner. For digital, I’m not the best at editing photos, to be honest. It takes me a while to get around to it and I have a hard time finding a look that works for everything I shoot, but I feel like I’ve been honing that down over the past couple years and getting better every time I have a go at it.
Are there any tips you would like to give to anyone out there who would love to create similar style photos to yours? When I’m looking for something to photograph I usually have a few themes/motifs I’m looking for in a scene. It can really help to write these down before you go out to shoot. That part comes from you personally, and what you shoot should be something that you care about or fascinates you. Secondarily, I’m looking for visual patterns, nice light, colour, and texture. That just takes a while of shooting to know what you want I guess. It really helps to draw lots of inspiration from artists you like. If you look at enough work that inspires you, I promise some of their visual themes will start showing up in your own work. When I’m actually composing the image, I’m trying to simplify it by keeping things out of the frame if they have nothing to add to the image. Whatever’s left I try to line up in a way that is the most impactful. That part might just take some practice to know what you’re looking for, but I just try to place subjects in the center or on the thirds, and try to give the subjects some room to breathe and keep everything evenly spaced or create a visual repetition if possible. Lastly, I try to stabilize and level the camera to make sure the horizon is straight.
Are there any photographers here on Instagram that you wish more people knew about? Oh so many. Recently I founded Remnant Magazine on Instagram because there are so many photographers I admire and I wanted to share their work. Some of my favourites that come to mind are Lucas Deshazer, Sam Youkilis, Devin Lunsford, and my friend and co-founder of Remnant, Andrew Albright. I think it’s a wonderful thing that magazines like Hippo and my own Remnant bring attention to artists most people haven’t heard about.
What would be your number one dream destination for a photography adventure? I guess New Zealand is the answer since that’s where we decided to go! I also really want to explore more of West Asia, like Japan and South Korea. The Mediterranean region is also at the top of the list.
Which time of year is your favourite for taking photographs? Probably winter because I love the ethereal vibe and simplicity that comes with a fresh blanket of snow. But all seasons have their charms.
The coolest place you've ever been? I was totally blown away by the sunrise in the Montserrat mountains near Barcelona, Spain. Also, spending a day climbing the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado was incredible because a storm rolled in—it brought fog and a green hue over the sand that was truly otherworldly.
Do you have any upcoming photography trips/sessions that you would like to share? Like I mentioned, I’m currently in New Zealand and we could stay for up to a year or more, depending on how much work we get. Afterwards, we’re planning on moving to Arizona and taking road trips to places all over the States after that.
Anything extra you would like to share? Just would like to plug Remnant Magazine again on Instagram. For now, it’s just a place to share work that inspires me but I’m hoping it turns into a community for much more. Also, check out my website at clyonphoto.com if you want to see more of my work. Hit me up if you have any desire to collaborate or just chat!
Clayton’s Instagram - @sea_lyon
Clayton’s Website - www.clyonphoto.com
Remnant Magazine - @remnant_magazine