A number of photographers have gained credentials and attention from their pictures of rocket blast-offs. These photographers started with photography as a hobby and posted their pictures online, leading to attention from leading figures like Elon Musk and various followers. Their success has come within the past couple of years.
The photographers have gained popularity on Twitter, Instagram and Reddit. Because of their photographs, they now attend launches as official, credentialed, respected media.
Four of these young photographers are Trevor Mahlmann, Vander Galien, John Kraus and Brady Kenniston.
Roughly 5 years ago, Mahlmann took an interest in rockets when he went to watch the launch of a rocket that was set to arrive at the International Space Station from Florida. He attended the launch with a NASA social group, and he was a student at Purdue University. Around the time that Mahlmann joined the NASA social group, he borrowed a camera.
Around the time that Mahlmann borrowed his camera, Galien found his camera in his garage. He started to shoot pictures just for the fun of it. Galien was also keeping abreast of news concerning the space industry.
Kenniston started his photography hobby when he worked as a photographer for his high school’s yearbook. Kraus also started his hobby when he was in high school. He lived on Florida’s Space Coast, and this inspired him to take pictures of launches.
All four photographers brings a lot of camera gear to each launch. It is not abnormal to bring more than a dozen lenses and 6 cameras.
When it comes to who is an inspiration, the photographers have different answers. Elon Musk was Kenniston’s inspiration. He also said that the seeing young people at launches was inspiring. Mahlmann chose Scott Tingle, a graduate of Purdue who is now an astronaut. Galien chose Gwynne Shotwell, one of SpaceX’s leaders.