Photographer Kyle Jenkins on Chasing Foliage, Moose, and More Park City Classics

Once upon a time, Kyle Jenkins was a photographer at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty. But after half a decade of photographing real estate, his camera was drawn to subjects other than the finest homes in the Park City area. The wildlife, the desert, and the river otters (for real) called.

Since I’m featuring one of Kyle’s psychedelic panoramas on my homepage this season, I thought I’d see what he’s been up to and also get his tips on how to capture your own epic foliage photographs this fall. Here’s the latest on the talented Kyle Jenkins.

Post-Sotheby’s photographic pursuits: Over the past year, I have been expanding my career further into commercial photography for ad campaigns and have increased my contributions to the Outdoor Project, an online resource for people searching for nearby adventures. Along with countless adventures in Utah, they have also sent me to Sun Valley, Idaho and Jackson Hole. It’s just a part-time gig, but for someone like me, it doesn’t get much better than that.


All-time favorite subject: Without a doubt, wild animals. There is nothing that makes me more hyper-aware than when I come across a bear or a large moose along the trail. Getting my technical settings correct and composing the shot while staying safe is the most exciting aspect of my career. My favorite recent encounter involved a family of river otters in Grand Teton National Park. While a little skittish, they seemed just as interested in me as I was in them.

Tips for photographing foliage: Most of us only have smart phones to use, so make sure to under-expose or darken your photos before taking them. You can do that on an iPhone by dragging your finger downwards on the yellow line next to the yellow focusing box. Most people don’t know about this feature, but it comes in handy here because the colors often look washed out. The same concept applies even if you have a large camera—don’t make it too bright, otherwise the colors will lose their drama.

park city foliage

Favorite Park City fall destinations: Iron Canyon in Park City isn’t normally very crowded and has blankets of stunning yellow aspens along the trail—not to mention the view from the top. Mill D North in Big Cottonwood Canyon sits right across from Donut Falls, but doesn’t get nearly the number of people. Pine Hollow Loop has very little traffic in American Fork Canyon and has stunning views.

Best way to take autumn glamour shots: I love getting people surrounded by color when shooting family photos in autumn. Look for pockets of hanging maple branches covered in red, or hunt down a grove of aspen that are extra tight and colorful. While pointing up towards the trees is a great idea for landscape photos, it’s not very flattering for portraits. If you want to mix it up, get higher than your subjects and show off the all the colors that have fallen onto the ground.

nighttime arch

Top mud-season getaway: Once the fall colors are gone and the trails get muddy in northern Utah, I always head down to the deserts in the southern part of the state. The colors start to make their way down to the Cottonwood trees along the Virgin River that runs though Zion. My wife and I love the lesser known Yant Flat just north of St. George, and it’s also the perfect temperature to go stand-up paddling at Sand Hollow Reservoir just outside of town.

Dream photography trip: I have always wanted to spend a week at Ankgor Wat in Cambodia. I am not really interested in spending too much time at the main buildings and temples because of the large crowds, but I would love to explore the overgrown jungles. It would be an amazing journey back in time to see the un-restored structures and how the jungle has covered them up over time.

You can check out more of Kyle’s work on his website.

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