We had the good fortune of connecting with Josh Lien and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Josh, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I say no a lot. As a photographer, I take hundreds of thousands of photos. The vast majority of those images will never see the light of day. I only share the ones that resonate with me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I got my start on Instagram as a landscape photographer that dabbles in wildlife, concert, lightning, macro, and travel photography. Instagram began as an app allowing users to easily edit and share their photos with filters. Choosing to leave my photos unfiltered and realistic helped my work to stand out, in an understated way. In addition, I took many of my best photos on an iPhone instead of a professional camera. My tagline is “Life Without Filters.” I strive to create images that accurately capture the essence of what you would have seen and felt, if you had been there.
Besides the literal meaning of my slogan, there is also the figurative meaning of living a full, active life that is true and real and brings happiness and fulfillment. I aspire to do that, and my photography is actually a valuable byproduct of the process. I love hearing from people that went on their own adventures, after seeing one of my photos on Apple’s Instagram page, on a website, in a travel guide, or on a magazine cover.
Getting what you want in life, professionally or personally, often has its challenges. I think it boils down to figuring out what you want, making a plan, and going after it. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. If you don’t try, you’ll never do. Success rarely comes easy. The importance of focus, persistence, flexibility, and hard work cannot be overstated.
There is so much natural beauty in the world, if you look for it. I hope my appreciation of a tiny fraction of that beauty inspires others to get out and explore.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If the itinerary is left up to me, the activities would focus on the outdoors. Begin the days with mountain biking the Arizona Trail and Fantasy Island, hiking Saguaro National Park and Sabino Canyon, and cycling the Loop (voted Best Recreational Trail for the last two years in a row by USA Today) and Mount Lemmon. Fuel up along the way by grilling out, making homemade pizzas on my Ooni oven, and eating out at Mi Niditio Restaurant, Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, and Barrio Bread (home of recent James Beard award winner, Don Guerra). Cool down afterwards with cold beverages from Dillinger Brewing Company, 1912 Brewing Company, and Dragoon Brewing. With any leftover energy, visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and catch a few concerts at Rialto Theatre, Club Congress, and The Rock.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Almost all of my photos have one thing in common. I took them with my wife by my side. Amy is always up for an adventure, even if that involves rattlesnakes, hiking 20 miles a day, driving 24 hours straight, or jumping out of an airplane. My photography grew out of our desire to preserve, relive, and share our favorite moments, feelings, and sights.