Adobe Lightroom Ambassador Kane Andrade on finding beauty in pain through photography

Photograph of Pride parade.

Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

Looking at the photography of Kane Andrade, the first thing that strikes most viewers is his stunning use of light and color. Whether Andrade is focusing his lens on an intimate solo portrait or capturing fog rolling over the Golden Gate Bridge, light is used to bring out a rich depth of color that makes the images feel almost otherworldly.

Andrade’s passion for art bleeds through the screen, but it’s his vision and commitment to community that inspired Adobe to make him an Adobe Lightroom Ambassador. Through Andrade’s company, Trans Stache, he works with brands such as Toyota, Reebok, and Square to create remarkable content that draws in audiences. Beyond commercial work, Andrade uses his photography as a medium for expressing himself as an artist, coping with life experiences, and becoming an advocate for the queer community.

“I’ve gone through a lot of pain in my life: as a veteran, a trans person, and just as a queer person of color,” explains Andrade. “I think that’s the reason why I’m drawn to images that make things look beautiful, magical, and colorful. I’m trying to find the light in the world and capture that feeling forever.”

Image of Kane Andrade.

Kane C. Andrade — image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

Finding himself through photography

Andrade has always been a creative person. Photography stood out as a medium that encouraged Andrade to explore the world around him. “I had a little Kodak camera as a kid, and I remember constantly asking my dad to develop the pictures at CVS,” recalls Andrade.

After spending five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Andrade struggled with his transition back to civilian life. His time in the military taught him the importance of teamwork, leadership, and communication, and the loss of structure wasn’t easy.

“Photography saved my life. I needed something to help me process my experiences and it was there for me. I feed those emotions into my work to make everything I create more meaningful.”

Kane Andrade

View overlooking a canyon, Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

While completing a degree in 3D Animation and Visual Effects at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Andrade slowly became aware of another identity he needed to embrace: that of a trans man.

“Even when I was young, I always felt like a boy,” says Andrade. “I hated being perceived as a girl. But it wasn’t until I started seeing more representations of trans people in the media that I began to realize what I was feeling. I resonated with the stories of people who had come out as trans before me, and it gave me the courage to come out as a trans man.”

With support from a close-knit group of friends, Andrade came out to his family in 2021. “My friends were supportive right away,” says Andrade. “It took a little longer for my dad. His partner was helpful getting him on board since she saw me for who I am.”

For friends and family of a trans person, Andrade gives this advice, “If there’s someone trans in your life, do some research on your own first. It’s exhausting and not a trans person’s job to have to educate everyone around them.”

Andrade adds, “The most important thing is to support the trans person with love and compassion. Even if you don’t understand their struggle, as long as you have open arms and are willing to learn, you can’t go wrong.”

Giving back to the community through art

Andrade credits community with helping him deal with his transition to civilian life and his life as a trans man. “For me, photography was really the way that I found my community,” says Andrade. “I started posting more queer content and trans content on places like Instagram using hashtags. I started getting comments and inspiring content on my feed. I met so many people who I could talk to about creativity, but also our shared experiences and pain.”

Image of model Rose Montoya, Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade — image model: Rose Montoya.

Through photography, Andrade uses his talent to give back. As co-founder of Rosen Creative House, a trans-owned creative agency, which aims to provide opportunities to queer and trans creatives, Andrade took part in a Drag Photoshoot at San Francisco’s Hotel Zetta. The event, which took place at the end of May, provided an opportunity for local drag kings and queens to get high-quality headshots for use in flyers and events throughout Pride month.

Image of Luke Modelo and Helixir Jynder Byntwell, Image taken by Kane Andrade.

Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade — image models: Luke Modelo and Helixir Jynder Byntwell.

Andrade also uses his art to advocate for fellow trans veterans. As a part of the Adobe Lightroom Ambassador program, Andrade plans to work on a passion project where he tells the stories of five trans veterans through photography.

“I’ve experienced the struggles of being a trans veteran firsthand, from grappling with identity to trying to navigate VA healthcare,” says Andrade. “I want to shine a light on the stories of other trans veterans and advocate for the need for trans human rights.”

Adobe chose Andrade to become a Lightroom Ambassador for his ability to bring subjects to vivid life through photography with Adobe Lightroom. Andrade also uses other Adobe Creative Cloud apps, such as Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing or Adobe Photoshop for replacing the sky to create perfect scenes. But Lightroom is the app that he uses every day to achieve his signature photography style.

View of skyscrapers, image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

Masking tools such as Radial Filters and Graduated Filters allow Andrade to control where he adjusts exposure, contrast, saturation, and other effects to better highlight his subjects or scene. He also relies heavily on the tone curve to bring out the light in his images.

Image of a hiker in the forest, Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

“I’m always thinking about what emotion I’m trying to inspire in people through my photographs,” explains Andrade. “It starts with the camera. I love shooting in the morning before everyone wakes up. There’s something about the light, quiet, and stillness that’s so beautiful. Lightroom helps me emphasize the light to make things look big and bright.”

Image of a bridge in the distance, Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

Andrade is also excited about new Lightroom features such as Remix coming to mobile and web, as well as the ability to edit videos. With video becoming an increasingly standard way of sharing art, particularly through social media, Andrade thinks it’s important to maintain a distinct visual style across still and moving images. The new video editing feature will allow him to use familiar Lightroom presets when editing his Instagram reels.

Image of a bridge in the distance, Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

Image courtesy of Kane C. Andrade.

“Being part of the Adobe Lightroom Ambassador program has been so validating,” says Andrade. “It gives me such confidence and makes me feel that people see the value in my art. Plus meeting with other artists is so amazing. It’s only been a few months, but it’s like we’re family.”

Celebrating the struggle and beauty of Pride

For Andrade, Pride is a time of happiness, but also melancholy. “I have mixed feelings about Pride because it’s a time that comes from hurt,” says Andrade. “If the world were a perfect place, we wouldn’t need Pride. Instead, we live in a world where I have to tell other trans people that if they’re not in a safe place, they shouldn’t come out. Pride is a painful but beautiful celebration where those of us who have struggled and are struggling can come together and find fellowship, support, and greater acceptance of themselves.”

Andrade plans to continue his creative work from his new home city of Los Angeles, opening the doors for more creative opportunities in a vibrant, diverse environment. Follow Andrade’s journey on social media, including Twitter and Instagram.

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