#California by Dustin Vaughn-Luma in San Jose, California, USA

Ever wonder what life is like in the Bay Area? One look at Dustin Vaughn-Luma’s beautiful Instagram feed will give you an idea. (Hint: It’s a very good idea.) Be sure to follow Dustin here: @dvl

Name:Dustin Vaughn-Luma

Place you live: Splitting hairs between San Jose, CA and Aptos, CA

Place your Instagrams were taken? All over the Bay Area, but most of them were taken in San Jose or in Aptos.

How would you sum up San Jose? Historic, diverse, and beautiful.

What is a perfect day in San Jose? Temperatures in the mid 70’s. Being able to venture out to the local woods or beach with my family, taking many photos along the way.

If San Jose was a person or character, who would it be and why? Tony Stark. He’s smart, driven and full of class.

How long have you been using Instagram? I started on Instagram the day it launched in October 2010.

Do you shoot with your phone or other cameras or both? I generally shoot with my iPhone 5 or HTC devices (the HTC One M8 is my latest tool). My wife and I own various DSLR cameras, but I most often find myself shooting with my mobile devices. They’re usually what I have on me at the time.

What is your editing process? My editing process used to be rather complex, using sometimes as many as four or five apps to edit a shot. Today it’s a bit more simple. I usually just shoot with the native camera app and edit my photos with Faded or VSCOCam.

Do you create images outside of Instagram? Yes. I have accounts on EyeEm and Tadaa, but I don’t use them as much as Instagram. I haven’t had much time recently, but occasionally I’ll get out and shoot with my wife (with our big cameras). I don’t share these images on social networks or across any other platforms.

Has Instagram/phoneography affected how you shoot? Absolutely. Instagram sparked my interest in photography and has helped me to learn the basics. Seeing what other amazing photographers share daily has been a consistent influence on my photo-taking and editing processes.

Can you give a couple of tips to aspiring Instagram photographers? It may be a bit more difficult nowadays with the sheer size of the platform and user base, but I’d obviously recommend following artists that you like and asking them questions. Often it’s difficult for people to respond, but if you are genuine, you may find a few photographers who don’t mind answering questions about their art and process. I’d also recommend picking up a few books or magazines on photography. The same principles apply when using a mobile phone or a DSLR.

I’d also recommend staying away from the popular page. In the early days, the popular page was riddled with amazing photos, but those days are gone. Find a couple of really good artists and see who they follow; and then do that up a few more levels. You should be able to find a handful of great photographers who really inspire you.

Lastly… this goes without saying for anyone serious about using Instagram as a photo platform… please don’t troll or ask for follows / likes. I don’t think there is anything more off-putting than having someone beg for attention when it isn’t warranted.

Who are your three favorite Instagrammers? Damn… this is a tough one. I’ve followed, met, and even worked with so many amazing artists over the past three and a half years. Boiling it down to three, I’d say they are:

  • Hiroaki Fukuda (@hirozzzz) – He has an amazing ability to blend natural and industrial environments.
  • Vutheara Kham (@vutheara) – Paris has never looked better. Vuth has a knack for rich compositions. He pours a ton of emotion into his shots.
  • Scott Rankin (@othellonine) – In my opinion, Scott has the best tone I’ve seen on Instagram. I love seeing his shots pop up in my feed.





Name:Dustin Vaughn-Luma

City:San Jose

Best place to eat:

My kitchen. My wife is the best cook I know.

Best place to drink:

Top Nosh prepares the best cup of coffee (linea caffe) or tea in town.

Best outdoor activity:

Mountain biking in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Must do:

There are so many amazing spots to hit in the Bay Area, and many of them can be done in a day. Take a trip to San Francisco and walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Hit up Half Moon Bay. Drive up to Lick Observatory and watch the sunset, or drive south to Point Lobos (in Carmel) and watch the sunset. And if you’re in the heart of San Jose, stop by Willow Glen and walk our downtown strip. It has a small town vibe and is full of historic California bungalow architecture, great restaurants and shops.

Local tip:

San Jose has some of the greatest Mexican food anywhere. Find an authentic spot and chow down. I recommend El Abuelo on Lincoln Avenue or Talaquepaque on Willow Street. Both are in Willow Glen.