Outdoor and lifestyle photographers have always found a friend in the open road, and Dylan Gordon is certainly no exception. At just 23, the photographer has traveled the world to document magical landscapes and professional athletes pushing their boundaries, and has returned home with some legendary tales. With numerous national campaigns, print editorials, and tenure as a staff photographer at the iconic Surfer Magazine already under his belt, it seems as though Dylan is just getting started.
As we enter his Ventura live/work studio, it becomes abundantly clear that Gordon does, indeed, walk the walk. Half a dozen motorcycles line the left side of the warehouse, while a collection of surfboards serves as the studio’s vibrant backdrop. Boxes of loosely organized Polaroids and 35mms line his shelves, and printed books—both of friend’s work and personal shots—are scattered around the bungalow’s pragmatic nucleus: the editing station. Two generous, honey-colored couches anchor the right-hand side of the space, where one can easily imagine Gordon and his travel buddies swapping stories. Altogether, everything is as we imagined it during our initial phone chat with Dylan—a call that ended with us eagerly accepting his invitation to come by and say hello IRL.
Hailing from San Luis Obispo, Gordon grew up on a horse farm and skated professionally during his teenage years before setting his sights on Brooks Institute in Ventura, Ca. Thanks to mentors like professional photographer Scott Soens, who showed him the ropes with regard to both the skate/surf world and photojournalism as a professional craft or friends like Troy Mothershead who have been open sources of inspiration into worlds of alternative surfcraft, he was a quick study. Dylan is equal parts reserved and adventurous, thoughtful and curious; which is why it’s no surprise that he claims narrative to be the secret ingredient behind his widely published and compelling visuals.
“With the content I create…I know it’s capable of having more value outside of simply living online on in one campaign. So, what I really want to focus on is creating projects that have longevity. When you look at books that document trips from the past… it’s something tangible—you can keep it; you can come back to it. It’s on the coffee table, it has a sense of place.”
Perhaps it’s this thirst for context that obliges Dylan Gordon to dive head first into his subjects—each trip, person, community or place—in order to really understand the story behind the image. And it’s that same drive to go deep, coupled with an earnest nostalgia for print, that has compelled Gordon to partner with his own docu-style travel journal, Korduroy.tv, which will feature profiles on far away places and the residents that define them.
“It’s about having that intimacy, having that connection. You can use that connection to support the people you want to support. That’s the direction I want to take Korduroy—I really want to push the community aspect when I’m traveling and documenting a place, or an occasion as opposed to simply showing up and consuming or the a-typical ‘show up and blow-up mentality of most surf trips’”
After a brief hiatus from his paid lifestyle gigs this spring, Gordon’s been kicking back and catching up with Ventura pals, spending his days camping and photo editing. This fall, he’s headed back onto the open road in support of Korduroy. Next stop? Ireland, Panama, Vietnam. And then? We couldn’t tell you, and neither could he.