Spalding alumnus Tyler Glass is showing with every snap of his camera and every post on his Instagram account that he possesses what just about everyone covets on social media nowadays: influence.
He’s also finding adventure and professional success along the way.
Glass, a former Spalding natural science major and soccer player, has spent the first two years since his graduation traveling to amazing outdoor spaces, learning photography and showcasing dramatic pictures of mountains, waterfalls, glaciers and cliffs on Instagram.
People like his pictures a lot. As in likes and likes by the thousands, and he’s built a following of more than 56,000 on his @tylerwayneglass Instagram account.
“I’m someone who’s gotten extremely lucky,” Glass said. “There’s a lot of hard work with it, too.”
Companies that sell outdoor clothing and equipment have taken notice of his work and hired him as a freelance contractor to take photos that feature their products – the kind of cool nature shots you’d expect to see in a catalog.
The brands he’s worked with include Moosejaw, Naturewise and Kelty Built, plus hotel, car rental and camper van companies.
“Their mission is brand awareness, and I’m a tool to get that done,” said Glass, who has made recent trips to Iceland, Oregon and Colorado. Trips to Canada and Switzerland are planned. … “It’s probably one of those things in a couple years I’m going to look back and think, ‘This was pretty cool.'”
He and a travel/business partner make a list of destinations at the beginning of the year and contact brands that they like to let them know they are going and are available to provide content or to perform Instagram takeovers.
“A lot of it has to do with, you spend so much time on Instagram and follow other Instagram influencers who are going places,” he said. “You see where they’re going, and you say, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty cool shot, but maybe I can do better, get a different shot, get a different angle.'”
Glass, who once thought he’d go to law school after getting his bachelor’s, started photography after his Spalding graduation in 2016. He hoped it would be an activity that might fill the time void left after the completion of his four-year college soccer career.
He and friends took a three-week drive out west after graduation, and he brought along an inexpensive camera and lens.
“From there, it just became a passion,” Glass said. “It definitely wasn’t me thinking, in two years I’ll have over 50,000 followers and getting paid to travel to these places. I kind of thought that (trip) would be me like my last hurrah before entering the workforce, and instead, it jump-started all this stuff.”
During 2017, Glass said, he improved his skills and developed a personal style of photography and editing, and his Instagram pictures were getting shared more and more. He’s worked to keep his Instagram page and Instagram stories fresh and unique, and his pictures made their way onto Instagram Search and Explore pages. He gained more attention when Tamron USA, the lens company, featured a story on its website about Glass proposing to his girlfriend during the trip to Iceland last year and highlighting some of the photos he took.
The increased following has led to increased business.
“I spent a lot of last year reaching out to brands, and the last few months, I’ve had a lot of brands reach out to me,” he said. “It was just finding the best way to put myself out there so that a lot of people could see me. Obviously Instagram has helped me out a lot with that.”
Glass has a pretty sweet gig, and he knows it. He said he tries on his trips to live in the moment and appreciate the cool places he’s getting to see. Instead of concerning himself only on getting the perfect picture of an amazing sunset in Oregon, for instance, Glass said, he tries to make sure to take time and enjoy getting to witness the sunset.
Before he left for a recent trip, his father told him goodbye and reminded him, “Realize what you’re doing right now because you’re doing something that a lot of people your age aren’t getting to do and would die to get to do,” Glass recalled.
Glass also looks back fondly on his time at Spalding.
The graduate of Louisville’s Academy for Individual Excellence had originally planned to attend Georgetown College and play soccer there but changed his mind right before the start of his freshman year and came to play at Spalding instead.
“It’s the best decision I ever made,” he said. “I made the absolute best friends I’ll ever have in my entire life. It’s one of the most important things that’s happened in my life. It’s kind of taught me with these trips and with life in general, that life is not going to go exactly how you planned no matter how hard you try or how well you think you’ve got it planned out. Life is going to change up a little bit, but usually it’s going to be for the better.”