The gorgeous photos in Rusty Wiles’s Instagram are minimalism at its best—symmetrical, simple, and orderly. Never mind that he only recently learned what that means. “People were like, ‘Oh, great minimalism!,’” he says, “and I was like, ‘What the hell is that?’”
Wiles isn’t a photographer. He’s a firefighter and part-time bails bondsman in Fort Pierce, Florida. Four years ago, he saw a fellow firefighter’s Instagram and loved it. “I thought, ‘Man, that’s really cool,’” he says. “That’s something I could probably do.” He started snapping photos after his 24-hour shifts at a firehouse on Merrit Island, taking advantage of the early morning light. Wiles cruised up the highways along the beach, stopping to point his iPhone out of the truck window when something caught his eye. Later, he’d add a filter or adjust the contrast and post it.
To his astonishment, people loved it. He quickly amassed 40,000 followers after Instagram featured him as a recommended artist in 2014. It encouraged him to keep at it, even if he occasionally drives his family crazy by pulling off the road for a great shot. “It aggravates my wife—she’s kind of used to it now—but I’ll tell her, ‘Oh honey we’ve gotta spin around cause I just saw something cool,” he says.
His photos brim with bright colors and architecture, plus the occasional firefighter action shot. For Wiles, it comes naturally. “I’ve just always seen planes and lines and angles in my head,” he says.
You know, minimalism or whatever.