Q&A: Sharing the Desert's Beauty on Instagram

Jake DeBruyckere was born and raised in Phoenix. When he was younger, he would hike in the desert with his dad and grandpa, and he says the desert is a landscape he’s always been drawn to. Flash-forward to the age of Instagram, and DeBruyckere is using that connection to share the beauty of the desert with his more than 20,000 followers. DeBruyckere is the man behind the hashtag #thedesertisbeautifultoo, which others in the Instagram community have begun using to share the beauty of our state. We talked to DeBruyckere about his photos and where that hashtag idea came from.

What made you want to start posting desert photos?
I think there’s kind of a stereotype with people outside of Arizona that think it’s just brown, dusty and bland and there’s not much going on, but there’s such a diverse landscape. I think the desert specifically can be underrepresented. When I first started looking for landscape photographers on Instagram to follow, a lot of the photos were taken in the Pacific Northwest with huge mountains, fog, big trees, and I feel like at the time the desert was kind of lacking. I wanted to showcase our big, amazing, beautiful desert.

What’s your history with photography?
I got my first DSLR in high school, but it wasn’t until Instagram came around that I really took myself into photography, and ever since then, all of my photos are taken with my IPhone that I post to Instagram. I do have some film cameras and a DSLR, but those are reserved for my Tumblr. It’s minimal gear; it’s just me and my phone and some hiking stuff.

So you’re #iphoneonly. Why did you decide to ditch the DSLR for Instagram?
I use the native camera app on the IPhone. I find that it’s super easy to shoot with, you know, you just point to focus and do your exposure and that’s all you really have to do. And it’s light; you don’t have to lug around a big DSLR everywhere. There’s something so satisfying with being able to take a photo in the moment and edit it super quick and be able to post it to social media; I find that really cool.

When and why did you create the hashtag #thedesertisbeautifultoo?
I believe it was a year and a half ago. I created the hashtag as a way to get other photographers to be able to see the beautiful desert landscape and see and follow other people that were around Phoenix. I think creating this tag has kind of instilled a sense of community in Phoenix. A lot of other Instagrammers love the tag. It’s cool.

Do you have a favorite spot in Arizona to shoot?
One of my favorites is the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction. That area is just beautiful. I love the shape of the mountains, and it’s close enough to the city where it’s accessible but far enough it seems you’re remote in the desert. I specifically love that spot for golden hour. Right when the sun is about to set, it just gets this warm glow over the mountain and all of the cactuses; it’s crazy, and I love it. It’s just so peaceful out there, it’s magical.

See more of DeBruyckere’s photos on Instagram at @jaquib or at www.jakedebruyckere.com.

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