Peter Yan is an Australian photographer with an abundant love for color. In particular, he is obsessed with blood orange and turquoise, a combination which accents all of his aerial landscape photography. This distinctive style has become his livelihood. Yan recently quit his job at Apple to focus on travel, adventure, and photography. He supports himself through marketing work for global brands and by selling photography prints. He also offers customized Lightroom pre-sets that allow other creators to utilize his trademark looks in their own work. You can find more of his creations on Instagram and at his website.
When did you first get into film/photography? Do you remember getting your first camera?
My dad was a photography enthusiast when I was a kid. I remember playing with my dad’s vintage cameras and getting yelled at for accidentally breaking one. My dad used to talk about the darkroom in his company all the time. I begged him to show me and one day he finally agreed to take me there, I still remember how amazed I was seeing all the films and prints being developed. That is one of my earliest childhood memories.
To be honest I didn’t get into photography until a few years ago. I was more of a geek and was into stuff like technology, YouTube, and gaming. I remember the first camera I bought was a cheap Kodak compact. It took AA batteries. The only reason I got it was because I was going overseas to study and needed a camera so I can share my life in Australia with my family. This was back in 2004, a few years before the iPhone came out.
In 2008 I bought my first iPhone and a Nikon. That’s when I started to figure out how to take photos properly. I only realised that I might have an interest in photography after 2011 when I went to the United States for the first time. I grew up in China and had always dreamed of visiting the United States. I got a lot of great feedback when I shared my images from that trip, in fact that was maybe the first time I got compliments on my photography.
What was the first drone you saw? When did you get your first drone?
I believe it was around September 2016. I was just browsing YouTube, as usual, and I came across this incredible aerial footage of a beautiful lake, I thought it was shot on a helicopter but it turned out to be shot on a Phantom 3. I had no knowledge of drones at that point. I ended up watching hours of drone videos on YouTube that night, and the next day I woke up and went and bought myself a Phantom 3 standard. My life’s changed from that moment on, it was the beginning of my new hobby.
How did you learn to fly? Had any close calls or fun adventures with your drone?
I learn pretty much everything on YouTube. As a tech enthusiast, I was a pretty quick learner when it came to flying a drone. I’m always super careful when flying, the only time I crashed my Mavic Pro was when I decided to turn on sports mode and I accidentally flew it into a small branch. The drone fell about 10 meters but fortunately it survived with just one broken propeller. Another time in Tasmania a curious bird was checking it out midair, luckily it didn’t attack the drone.
I am very particular though. Sometimes I will drive for hours to get to a certain spot, and then take off with my drone, find my framing, and if I don't like the composition, I'll just pack up and head home.
How would you describe your Instagram style? Who do you follow these days that inspires you?
My instagram feed has a unique theme when it comes to colour. People call me the orange and teal guy. I mean my favourite colours are blood orange and turquoise. I think they compliment each other so well. I love landscape photography, especially with a drone, because it allows me to see things differently. I love that it can provide an entirely new perspective on nature.
Color has always been really important to me, ever since I was a child. I was just very drawn to certain hues. My mother used to take me shopping with her and I would pick out the best combinations. Even when I was four or five years old she took me along for my advice. When I'm looking at the live video feed on my drone, I can already see in my head what the scene will look like after I apply my color scheme.
There are many content creators that inspire me every day. I’ve always been a huge fan of Chris Burkard, he really got me into nature and landscape photography. Peter McKinnon has inspired me not to be afraid of showing my passion and to explore what seems impossible. Sam Kolder inspired me to live my life to the fullest. Ben Brown’s Greenland video inspired me to go to Iceland, and that trip really changed my perspective on life. In July I decided to quit my job at Apple of 9 years to chase my dreams and pursue my passion in travel and photography.