My New Adventure as Head of Content Creation

It All Started With a Camera

When I was 14 years old, I used to help my father with his photography work as an assistant at shoots. I learned about the basics of lighting, client interaction, and digital photo editing before my first years in high school. On these jobs we were usually covering people in some fashion -- family photos, senior photos, corporate profiles, etc. 

Through my first few years of high school I supported myself with jobs as a youth sports referee, a batting cage attendant, and a Boston Market employee. At the same time, from 2012-2014, my father and I were contracted by Martha Stewart Magazine to produce 2-4 video profiles (a year) for the American Made project. We flew to 10 or so American cities over the course of those three years and were tasked to capture an American artisan in each city - highlighting their craft, their environment, and their mission. This experience gave me my first look into professional digital media production.

From waking up early to scout locations and draft a shot list to producing a video interview of a craftsman, these specific projects impacted my creative process of digital media immensely and enlightened me to the overall need for collaboration in a creative task. These journeys through the United States also granted me an appreciation for hard work, handcrafted goods, and the need for unrelenting drive in the pursuit of one's dreams.

Rowland Ricketts of Ricketts Indigo dries fabrics outside his workshop on Indiana University campus 

In my last year of high school I began to slowly market myself as a photographer/videographer and began doing independent work. I shot my first paid senior photos and began dabbling in video work for a local music collective named Splyt. I traveled all around Colorado and to Utah to document road trips and concerts, the largest namely being a concert with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Before my freshman year of college, I was expecting photography to slowly leave my life as I began focusing on Business or Computer Sciences, but I was completely wrong. As I found my own flaws in the secondary American education system, I began to use Photography as an outlet of expression. I felt lost in the masses of humans going to class or the three hundred person lecture halls. I felt like I lost my voice, and I wanted to find it again. 

I found my voice in Social Media, most notably, Instagram. I loved the interactions that I was having with people with a similar interest to me. I began documenting my excursions to the mountains, my backpacking trips, my friends, etc. Through use of specific hashtags and networking via Instagram, I was able to grow my following from about 500 to 6,000 in about 4 months while I was in school at Colorado State University. Instagram slowly became a larger and larger piece of my every day life; I formed objectives for shoots, planned out my "Instagram feed," interacted with high volume accounts, and met amazing photographers and models all around the West. 

A local Fort Collins-based clothing company saw what I was doing and decided to hire me to shoot for them. Since 2014, I have shot two look books for Pine Brand, one magazine spread that was featured in Rooster magazine, and a handful of studio and social media photo assignments for their digital media content.

Garrett Danielson, Creator and Owner of Pine Brand fantasizes about some hotcakes in a diner near Red Feather, Colorado 

As my Instagram grew, so did my dissatisfaction with school. I began traveling to states all around Colorado to cover subjects like national parks and "adventures" with a couple fellow photographers. We were noticed and sponsored by local and national brands like Topo Designs and Boreas gear. We were given product to shoot on excursions and specifically posted to Instagram photos of us using said products.

Freshman year ended, and I decided that I was going to take a year off from school to pursue making a living at and learning more about photography. 

That was one year ago. It has been brutally challenging. Moving out of my parents' home, starting an LLC as a 19 year-old, working construction near full-time and trying to market a business from the grass roots -- all while trying to figure out my path in this universe and my own personal and artistic voice. That's when Spruce came in.

The Face of Spruce May 30th, 2015 

As Spruce utilized my skills for visual media, I was able to see the environment that Taylor and Becca were creating here at 4347 Tennyson St. -- an environment of acceptance, an environment of collaboration, an environment that blends the digital and analog experience. I can see the drive in their minds and their hearts and in every person they have employed throughout the life span of Spruce. So you can imagine that I was absolutely elated when they gave me the opportunity to come on board as the Head of Content Creation.

I'll be playing the role of producer in Language and Visual Arts content that come out of Spruce and into the audience around us (via social media, printed zines, look books, and cinema). I'll be in charge of hosting creative outlet events in the future, and I'll be at every entrepreneurial, philanthropic, and community event that Spruce involves itself in. Today marks a symbol of growth and hope in my journey of storytelling and creation.

Image by Cole Christiansen 

I can't wait to see what we can do as a team and how far we can take this brand and this idea of experiencing life -- in the direct collision of digital and analog interactions. I look forward to taking pictures and videos that you will see, producing stories that you may read, and hopefully turning that digital interaction into a handshake.

Kyle Panis
Head of Content Creation


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1 comment

  • Amazing growth. Amazing potential. I will follow you and keep up with your progress and support you in your amazing endeavors. Like Taylor and Becca at Spruce, I recognize your drive, ambition and talents. Travel to the top Kyle, you are on your way!

    Susan Coady

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