Q&A with Carter DeVries aka @vinyl66 on Instagram
And then there are the Instagrammers like Carter DeVries aka @vinyl66, who takes seriously good-looking pictures of a curated selection of quality menswear.
I’ve been following his feed for a while, so I reached out to learn the story behind it, and how he takes those drool-worthy pictures. Let’s start with Carter’s story.
What’s your story?
Name: Carter DeVries
Birth year: 1966
Location: Louisville, Kentucky USA
Profession: Self-employed graphic designer, marketing, sales
I’m a father of two girls ages 18 and 21. We, along with my beautiful and amazing partner Kirsten, live in a Brownstone-style townhouse just outside of the city.
Besides the passion for heritage and workwear style that I feature on my Instagram page, I’m into vinyl record collecting, photography and turning wrenches on my old BMW 5-series.
Being a BMW fan myself, I asked Carter about his car history. Turns out he’s owned more than a dozen BMWs, including three M3s (two of the E46 and an E90)! I couldn’t be more jealous!
His current daily driver is a 2003 E39 540i M-Sport. That’s a naturally aspirated V8! He’s also owned an E60 (2005 545i V8) and F10 (2011 550i V8), but he prefers the more analogue experience of the E39.
But I digress. I promise the rest of blog post is about denim! ?
Carter’s Instagram Feed and How He Runs It
Thomas: How did it all start with your Instagram feed?
Carter: I initially created an Instagram account to follow my daughters’ accounts. While doing a Google search for Red Wing boots, links to a few Instagram pages popped up and I discovered this entire sub-culture of amazing people sharing a love of heritage-based style.
My first posts were just snapshots of a pair of Red Wing 8111 Iron Rangers. The community embraced me and made me feel immediately welcome and at home. Once I discovered how much I didn’t know about boots and denim, I was hooked.
T: Why Instagram? What are your goals?
C: I really love the sense of community combined with the visual and creative aspect of Instagram. I’ve met a ton of great people, all of whom are extremely gracious and generous.
We share new clothing finds, fit advice and fashion ideas in a way that allows us to improve our look and therefore how we present ourselves to the world. Wearing the style that I do and looking my best gives me confidence and just makes me feel great. It trickles into every aspect of my life in a positive way.
I engage mostly for pleasure, but there has become a business component to it via influencer programs.
T: How much time do you spend on Instagram on a daily basis?
C: I spend about an hour a day creating content and another couple of hours a day surfing feeds and engaging with folks in the community.
T: How do you take your photos?
C: I fly solo on the photos. I use a Fujifilm X-T2 with a tripod and a remote phone app that allows me to dial in camera settings, focus, etc. while in front of the lens.
T: Which tools do you use?
C: Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8 lens on a Gitzo tripod with RRS ball head for hardware. I import and do rough editing with Adobe Lightroom and do final editing in Photoshop.
T: How do you come up with new ideas, and what’s your planning like?
C: I start with an idea for an interesting shot, which usually comes from an outfit I think works really well.
The setup for the photo might be somewhat unique or may be influenced by a photo I’ve seen on Instagram that I thought was really good. I bookmark great images that hit my feed and refer back to them when my own creative juices are being stubborn. That really helps.
I use natural light, so I pick the best time of day for where I intend to shoot, set up the shot and start snappin’ pics.
My flat lays are almost always just the items I’m planning on wearing the next day while my hi-key outfit shots are what I’m wearing that day.
98% of my photos are indoor shots. I have great light in my townhouse and since I shoot solo I find it far easier to just shoot at home. It’s a bit limiting but seems to be working.
Once an image is fully edited, I send an email to myself with my caption, brand listings and hashtags along with the image attachment. I copy and paste all text into a new Instagram post and then save that as a draft for posting at the time that seem to create the most engagement for a given day. That way when I’m ready to post I can just click “share” on the draft and be good-to-go.
T: Do you make it a priority to post on a regular schedule? And how do you remind yourself of it?
C: My goal is to post one image each day!
If I have a specific time I plan on posting, I’ll set an alarm on my phone. But I like to check the “following” section of Instagram to get a sense of how many of my people are currently active right before I post. If it’s a ghost town, I’ll regroup and post later.
T: What are your favourite locations to take photos?
C: I have a beautiful walnut dining room table that my father built for me about 15 years ago. There is a large bay window beside it, which gives very nice light so that’s where I do all of my flat lays. I actually stand on the table and use my camera’s tilt screen to compose the shot from directly overhead.
My hi-key shots are done in my kitchen against a large blank wall which also is flooded with light for most of the day. And, I shoot in my garage. An open garage door is essentially a gigantic softbox and concrete is always cool so, yeah, that works okay as well.
T: Do you repost?
C: My page is just for content that I’ve created. I follow and enjoy quite a few repost pages, it’s just not what I do.
Carter’s Denim and Style
T: What is your favourite feature on jeans?
C: The individualized way in which each pair fades unique to its wearer is the ultimate feature when it comes to quality denim. I also like the individual branding when it’s done right. A few of my favorite examples would be the small indigofera leaf of @pure_blue_japan and the subtle red “W” on @ironheartdenim. I also really dig the patch on my @flathead1996 3002.
T: How do you wash your denim?
C: Tub soak and hand agitate with a small amount of Woolite Dark. Temperature depends on whether or not I’m looking to create some shrinkage. Wring out by lying flat on a bath towel and rolling. Hang dry.
Like most denimheads, I go as long as possible between washes, but when they start getting funky they gotta have a bath.
T: What’s your favourite fit? And what’s your least favourite fit?
C: Man, that’s a tough one. If I had to pick just one fave fit it would be the 3002 from @flathead1996.
Never really thought about a least favorite fit before, but I don’t like the look of skinny jeans on guys, or jeans with a really high 80s-style rise, which most guys my age seem to think looks good on them.
T: Which boots and leather goods do you wear with your denim?
T: Which sneakers do you wear?
C: I rarely wear anything other than boots, but I do have a pair of Nike Killshot 2 that I’m very fond of. Amazing how many compliments I get on them. and from all age groups.
I remember getting my very first pair of Nikes in 1976, and the Killshots are really reminiscent of those early “hi-tech” sneaks in the best possible sense.
T: Favourite item that’s not denim or leather?
C: That’s easy, my silver @lhnjewelry Pantheon bracelet. Not only is it a beautiful piece, Kirsten gave it to me as a birthday gift, which adds special meaning.
T: Where do you buy your gear?
C: I shop online quite a few places, but I’m happy to give a shout out to two of my faves:
Richard Linn of @witheredfig is extremely helpful with fit questions and has an excellent sense of style, which is represented by the brands his shop carries. He’s also a key member of and very engaged with the IG community and posts great, inspirational images on his personal feed (@doppki).
@divisionroadinc is another fantastic shop with an equally responsive, helpful and extremely knowledgeable owner and staff. Those folks come up with some killer collaborations. Both of these shops are super selective in the brands they carry which means they’ve done a lot of the homework for you.
T: What styling tips would you give your followers if they wanted your style?
C: Once you’ve educated yourself on the style in general via my page and others in the community, just start by choosing well-regarded brands of denim, boots, etc. It may seem like an expensive style at first, but you can get by with one pair of quality, raw, selvedge denim jeans, one pair of mid-to-higher-end, heritage-style workboots, and a few properly fitting shirts. Then, gradually add pieces as your budget allows.
Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in an area with shops that specialize in this style, learn how to get your fits right without necessarily being able to try everything on. Measure the properly fitting pieces you currently own, compare those measurements to items that you’re looking at online, ask questions of those who are more experienced via direct message about boot lasts and how they fit. That sort of thing.
Really, figuring out which brands to buy is the easiest part because you can quickly get a sense of who makes the good stuff by observing what people, who have been around for a while and who have their look dialed-in, are wearing.
Getting the fits right without the hassle of returning items is where education can be of enormous value. Instagram is full of folks with a wealth of knowledge and who enjoy sharing their experience with like-minded people so make use of them/us.
Ultimately though, you have to jump in at some point and figure out what cuts, fits and lasts work for your body and feet. And that requires making some purchases, some of which will work out better than others. Have fun with your wardrobe, wear what you like, tweak your style to make it your own and then ‘own’ that style.
… Stay Tuned for More Blue Bloods!
That’s it for the third instalment in the series of interviews with blue blood! Don’t forget to follow Carter on Instagram!
Next blue blood to share his story is Alexander Ohlson aka @indigovein.