Name: Cole Rise.
Current City: San Francisco, CA
Pets: A piano named Eleanor. I feed her and she makes music.
Dream vehicle: Piper Super Cub with Tundra tires (it’s a bush plane)
ISO50: Tell me about your first memory?
Cole: The first thing I remember is an insect in my bed. Maybe it was a millipede? It’s not like the house was gross or anything… we were in a wooded area so i think it was just lost. We moved out of that house when i turned 2, so I must have been about one and half years old, as crazy early as that sounds. I remember waking up and being rather startled by it, but not having the words to express it. I wasn’t the most verbose one and a half year old. I probably just stared, wide-eyed. I vaguely remember mom coming in a few minutes later, but by then it had crawled out of sight. I hope it found it’s way.
ISO50: I see that you’re a pilot, do you ever let go of the wheel and get a photo off like some of the instagram car drivers I see sometimes on the road?
Cole: Oh sure… but within reason. It’s not as dangerous as you might think. When you’re learning to fly, they teach you to scan your horizon every few minutes, so you’re always aware of where you are, who and what’s around, and what’s ahead. Plus most planes have auto-pilot, which is basically 3-dimensional cruise control. With little air traffic, it’s reasonably safe to snap a photo or two. On the other hand, I recently tried it while hang gliding and almost dropped the phone from 800 feet. I’d say that was more dangerous.
ISO50: Can you list off a 4 song playlist of what you listen to while you’re tinkering with a photo?
Cole: In no particular order, i give you…
“Aegina Airlines” by The Dead Texan
“Indian Summer” by Jónsi & Alex
“Don’t Worry” by Zoe Keating
“Foreground” by Grizzly Bear (Note: this song works in all regions of a photo.)
Tycho, of course, goes without saying.
ISO50: If there could be a new filter added on instagram describe it the best you can:
Cole: If you combine Inkwell (the current b&w filter) with say, the soft tones of Sierra, it produces some lovely results. I think there may be something to that.
ISO50: Do you find there being pressure of getting a certain kind of shot to post on instagram? Do you ever hesitate to post?
Cole: Sure i’d say there’s an incentive to keep it interesting and meaningful, so you tend to become more selective with what you post. I definitely feel some pressure to keep traveling, to keep it consistent with the landscapes that i usually post. Twist my arm. As for hesitation, once in a while i’ll think twice about posting some the crazy experimental stuff. I have fun trying to push the medium in new & weird ways, and then sharing the process so everyone take part and push it further. Take for instance, shooting through a sweater stretched over the lens. Sometimes you have to look at the photo, turn your head to one side and ask yourself “… really?” So, you share what works, and you bury the rest. Like an iceberg, most people only see the little bit that’s above water.
ISO50: I’m moving to SF next week, can you list your favorite bar, venue, restaurant, and a place to relax at?
Cole: On a Thursday night when it’s not too crowded, grab a couple of friends for drinks in an old pirate ship themed bar called Smuggler’s Cove in Hayes Valley. There’s even a flaming skull drink! Nuff said. Then, when you’re good and toasty, mozy on down the block to Absinthe for one of the best burgers in the city. While you’re there, have them bring over the St. George absinthe, the only variety any sane person should bother to try. You’ll be feeling pretty good at this point, and maybe a bit full, but i promise you won’t care. When it’s time, sign your check and stroll a few blocks further to the more relaxed appeal of Hotel Biron, for a glass of wine you’ll in the short term love & then soon regret as you wait for your Uber cab before crawling into bed.
ISO50: What do you think about the popular page on instagram? What would you change about it to make it something you’d visit more frequent?
Cole: It’s very honest and very human. Algorithmically, it’s doing some really smart things to bring you photos that are getting a lot of attention. Attention, however doesn’t guarantee that every photo will be amazing, so that’s where i think the honesty comes in. Right now, the popular page is a perfect snapshot of what’s on people’s minds at a given point in time. It’s Freud meets Ansel Adams, with some teenage angst and a few cute puppies thrown in. I love it for what it is, but as with anything, it’ll evolve. Down the line I would love to see it become more curated, or influenced by more tastemakers on Instagram. Imagine giving more weight to a photo if it’s liked by other influential users who have had a few of their own photos featured on the popular page. An “artists supporting upcoming artists” metric.
ISO50: If you weren’t working on photography or being a pilot what would you be doing for a living?
Cole: Well, I have a web company called Particle that pays the bills, but that aside, i’d probably sell tripods or hang gliders online and travel. Build a water well for a community that needs it. Maybe grow some rice.
ISO50: What are your feelings on Facebook buying Instagram? Any updates that what would make you sad to see added?
Cole: I think from the beginning it was obvious that the app was going to be huge. Even before they launched, the hundred or so beta testers were using the app all day everyday. It was exactly what was missing, and i’m damn thrilled to see it make its mark in history. Their team and inner culture is incredible, so i have faith in the people and the smarts they bring behind scenes. I can’t really imagine them adding a feature that wasn’t great or without the user in mind. I’m actually looking forward to the much needed updates to Facebook that Instagram will bring.