Interview With Tyler Deiter
We took some time to chat with Tyler Deiter. Landscaper. Photowalker. Oldest of thirteen siblings! Tyler's love of nature and big machinery is perfectly captured in his stunning photographs. Read on to learn more about him!
Are you local to this area?
Yup, I live right over in the Applecroft neighborhood on the other side of the square.
And you were born in this area?
I first lived over on Willow Street, so it's not too far away.
So you went to LS?
I was home schooled.
And you have a very large family!
Yup! I’m the oldest of 13.
That is just crazy! What I recently learned about you is that you have your sister working with you and you do landscaping. How long have you been doing that?
I've been doing it since I was twelve. I first started working part-time at a garden center with my grandfather. He is in the greenhouse industry. Then, about four years ago, I really started to get into landscaping and started my own company. It keeps me busy full-time and often I’ve had my brother help me for a couple years, and now my sister. It keeps me busy and it keeps them busy!
It's definitely super ambitious of you to start up your own company. You said your grandfather was in greenhouses, was it following his example that gave you that inspiration?
Yeah, and my dad’s always been real mechanical. He taught me how to do all the workshop sort of stuff. Growing up, my interests were outdoors and heavy equipment. I always have wanted to run heavy equipment, so as I got older, I never really lost that interest. Now, I just combine the two things I enjoy.
Growing up, how did your love for the outdoors show itself?
I used to always like to look at nature books and play in the flower beds. I used to dig in our flower beds at home, and I always enjoyed the flowers and shrubs. As I got older, I got more interested in it, and I read more, and just took it from there.
You said you looked at books...do you think this was a precursor to you developing a photographic eye?
I think so. I used to always be on the lookout for different types of birds. I wanted to see every type of bird that was in the field guides. I just kept my eye out for butterflies, flowers...just different things and trying to find them. It's almost like a treasure hunt! I used to have those Kodak cameras, the disposable ones.
We would get them for Christmas and I would always love playing with them, because you would take a bunch of pictures and have to wait anxiously to see what you got in the mail. Once I started my business and got my iPhone, then I was able to take pictures. I grew a passion for it, because you could take a picture and be able to see it right away. It started from that.
So prior to the iPhone, your camera was a Kodak?
Yeah, just the little disposable ones.
Was this a gift all your siblings got as well?
Often we would get them. It depended on birthdays and holidays. I used to have a photo album, it had different sports pictures on the outside, and I would tuck away all my photos in that. I had some from my grandparents house, and from when we went to the Hershey’s Butterfly House once...different pictures from the Lampeter fair. So I started with that. And, I didn’t really take many pictures afterwards, because they fell out of favor as cellphones went out. My mom did have a digital camera that she let us borrow occasionally, but I only took mainly snow pictures with that.
Why mainly snow pictures?
I've always liked snow plow equipment and snow!
What do you think led to this passion for large equipment?
I think just being a little boy, growing up and have the Matchboxes and stuff.
And now with your career, you're able to kind of stay a kid forever!
Earlier you said you had a book on birds, do you remember who gave that to you?
My mom got it for school. She got a whole bunch of different field guides. I would just take the field guides and read through them, and try to look at all the different birds and stuff.
So you're always a learner this way? You're a very curious person?
Yeah, I don't read quite as much anymore, because of work. But since I always have my phone with me, if I see something I'm not quite sure of, I can just quickly Google it.
Do you remember the last such thing you Googled like that?
Earlier this morning, I looked up Shenk’s Ferry’s history again.
That's right, you'd just put together a photography walk for Shenk's Ferry.
Are you the one behind the Lancaster County Instagramers Facebook page?
Yes, I am!
I’d say you're quietly a behind-the-scenes organizer here. You're also involved with the newly formed Lancaster Top Shots. What's the push behind that?
It started right after the first Lancastergram. I was just getting into Instagram. I got into it because my sisters had Instagram, because a couple of their friends who live out of state had it. They got an account and they were like, “You need to get Instagram!” They kinda talked me into it.
With me working all the time, one of my sisters needed to see the pictures that I take at job sites. Since I get back late, and she wouldn't be able to see them, she told me that with that app, I could post while at work and she would be able to see my pictures. I said "sure" and I got into it. I learned how the hashtags worked, and I found out right afterwards, that if you click on them you can see all the pictures. I found #lancastergram right as the contest was ending. So, I got to following a lot of the local people. I think you were one of the first, you and Seth.
From there, I went and started to get to know everyone a bit more. I thought it was cool! With this app, you can meet local people. We did a couple photowalks, and one day last summer...it was kind of hot and I was in between jobs...I had two hours before I had to be at my next appointment. So, I thought, “You know what? A Facebook group might help to organize us a bit better.” Organizing a photowalk was always hard, because not everyone can see the posts. And, you can only direct send the event to fifteen people. I just went ahead and created the group. Yesterday we passed 200 members!
Did you anticipate how successful it would become?
I had no idea how it was going to turn out. I didn’t even know if people would join when I first started it.
Where did you take people on the photowalks that you organized?
I didn’t organize them, Seth Dochter organized the first ones. I just thought they were really neat, and I got to learn so much about taking pictures and stuff. The way I learn is by seeing what people do and copying them. I watch a lot of You Tube videos and tutorials for different things. I got to learn a lot from the photo walks, and it's just lots of fun to go out with people that you've just met and take pictures. Since we all have a passion for photography, it's like we became instant friends. It's just a really cool way to meet new people.
So, I just recently noticed your sister's account on Instagram. Have any of your other siblings picked up this art?
A couple of them did. My one sister, Jenna, has really enjoyed coming along on photowalk. And, my brother kind of got into it a little bit. He likes doing the editing. My other sisters @alisondeiter and @alyssadeiter will often take pictures too.
I should note that your sisters are the ones that got you involved, but I think what I'm noticing is maybe the focus on Lancastergram. They are starting to post on that now.
I've kind of convinced them to join the photography group and local group. Just something for them to do and share their works. I think they take really good pictures, so that way they can learn and get better.
You're still shooting with an iPhone, do you plant to continue that way, or are you starting to get an itch to take your art to a different level?
I keep kicking around the idea of getting a camera, then every time I think about getting one, they come out with a newer and better iPhone camera. I think eventually, I will get a camera. I'm also making a bunch of YouTube videos, so I have a GoPro for that. I'm thinking about getting a second GoPro. I even thought about getting a drone, but they've made so many rules! I'm unsure of what I'm going to do moving forward. I like the iPhone, because I have it in a pouch and it's always by my side. I can have it out in a split second like quick draw!
They say the best camera is the one you have.
I’m also afraid that a camera might get dusty and dirty one day staying in a landscape truck. That's why I've stuck to the iPhone. If I can keep getting better on the iPhone, then I think it's better to get the shot than miss the shot. The one thing I wish an iPhone could do was take pictures of birds, and the moon. Unless the bird is really close, then it just turns out grainy.
You have attachment for you iPhone, correct? Different lenses and such?
Yeah, different lenses. They work quite well, but with the zoom lens, you need to have the phone on a tripod, because if it moves too much, you get a lot blurriness. I have a fisheye and macro lens that clip on, and someone gave me one that has a magnet attached. Those work really well to get some interesting shots, but normally I just shoot with the standard iPhone lens.
It allows you to envision you art quicker almost anywhere.
The one thing that really helps is using the Snapseed app. You can use the different artistic filters that they have.
Tell us more about your workflow process. You take a picture, and then where do you go next?
Normally, if I'm going on a photowalk, or even just in everyday life, I'll take a bunch of pictures, and then I upload them to my computer. I'm one of those people who doesn't like to delete photos, so I'll go through and upload them to my computer, so I know I have them saved.
Then, I'll start to delete the ones that were blurry. I’ll clear them out, and then I'll take my favorite ones, take them to Snapseed, and go through HDR if they need it. Sometimes, a raw shot's just better, but sometimes I’ll use it to make it look a bit more like it was with a professional camera, or to give it an artsy flair. I’ll do that, and then my most favorite ones, I'll post on Instagram. Then I’ll take the favorite and the general ones and post them to Facebook, almost as a backup, and just to share my photos. I just do it for the fun of it and to put smiles on people’s faces when they see my pictures.
I would say one of your most recent successes is your rainbow picture. I’d say you put a smile on about three and a half thousand people's faces!
How does that make you feel?
I’m so overwhelmed with how big that picture got!
How did that come to be? Were you driving for photos?
I was at a job site. We were cleaning up a peach and apple orchard for a customer who just had all their trees trimmed. The storm just came rolling in, it was almost like a summertime storm, so it was cool. My sister and I, we just hopped in the dump truck and it started getting sunny. It was still raining, so I thought that it might be late enough in the day for a rainbow, and that if there was one, it was going to be a really low arch.
We hopped out and it was still raining, but the bright sun was shining, and there was this beautiful rainbow. My sister, myself, and the customer went out the the end of the farm lane, and as we were walking out, it was so cool. I've never see a rainbow where you could see where it ends, because they are optical illusions, but you could see the end went the whole way down to the ground on the one field. It was just really cool, and I couldn't quite get a picture of that, but it's just neat that rainbows can have really low arches like that.
So you were with someone else shooting the rainbow too? What were they shooting with?
Yeah, my customer. She didn’t have a camera on her, so she just asked me to take some pictures for her, and I said "sure"! I went and took a whole bunch of pictures of it, and then we were driving and I took some pictures of a barn with the rainbow. It was all just really neat. It was one of the first times working at a job site with my sister.
You just recognizing that a rainbow was going to be there...that's just from years of experience working outside?
Yeah, I can tell when a storm is rolling in and when it's going to rain. After a while, from being outside, you can just read the small signs. It's almost like second nature. You don’t really think about it, and you just know.
How is that different for you now that you've developed this passion for photography? When you see a weather pattern, what's going through your head?
Normally, if I can tell it's going to be a cool sunset, then I'll keep checking the windows if I'm inside. I just keep making sure I'm near where I can take pictures. It's really hard if you're at a meeting or something, and you know there's a really cool sunset or whatever that you're going to miss.
Have you ever been visibly distracted where someone was like, “Tyler, wake up and pay attention!”
Kind of. One of the first times I started volunteering at the fire company, there was a storm that rolled through, and there was this gorgeous sunset afterwards. They were doing stuff inside, but I kept darting outside to take pictures!
So tell me more about your volunteering at the fire company. What led you to do that?
Pretty much the love of large equipment, and I thought it would be a way to meet people and learn some new skills, because I am a very hands-on person.
How long have you been volunteering?
I've been doing it since July. Not very long.
Have you met new people and learned new skills?
Yeah! I've met a lot of great local people, and I learned a lot more about fires, and how fire works. I've just always liked seeing how fire engines roll by. It's just neat to be able to help out with it, and ride in the fire engines.
I figured it's also a good way for me to give back to the community since I love the local town and Lampeter. It's a good way to help people, especially in my spare time during the winter, when I'm not busy landscaping, and there's no snow.
Not only are you helping them with your man power, but also with your exposure, by putting pictures up of their equipment. You're giving them more attention, right?
I always have my iPhone with me, so that way, I can take a couple of pictures, and also help kind of spread the word a bit if our photographer isn't there.
You have a lot of followers that might not see this otherwise.
Before I joined, I didn’t understand quite how it worked, and a lot of people don't really realize that the volunteer fire departments exist until they're needed. In that way, it raises a little awareness to go out and support before they're needed.
We're going to go on a little walk after this. Where are we going, and what are we going to see?
It's just going to be down some back roads, and the main road down through Lampeter. It's a trail that I'll often walk.
This is something you do often?
I try to do it often, especially if I'm off, or I had a stressful day at work. I'll go and walk, and I know there will be cool sunsets. It's just some nice quiet back roads.
What can we expect from Tyler Deiter in the coming months?
Just more pictures and more photowalks. I’ll be busy with landscaping during the next coming months, so there will be a lot of flowers, and hopefully soon, butterflies, and trees leafing out.
Should your customers be concerned that you're taking more photos than getting your work done?
(Laughs) I’ve had a couple people say that. Most of the time I’ll just be walking by, take my phone out, and take quick pictures.
I’m sure they appreciate your passion for nature and a good artistic image of their lawn!
If you want to know more about Tyler and the photography community he's a part of, join Lancaster County Instagramers.