Interview with Caleb Kimbrough from Lost and Taken

This week I had the opportunity to interview Caleb Kimbrough from Lost and Taken.  If you aren’t familiar with Lost and Taken, you should really check it out.  Lost and Taken is a blog dedicated towards free high resolution textures.  Caleb really does a great job with the site and always seems to find new ways to surprise us with new and creative textures.  I hope that you enjoy this interview and when you’re done, feel free to visit Caleb’s website and to connect with him via Twitter.

Caleb, thanks so much for participating in this interview.  Can you begin by explaining a bit about your background?  Where are you from?  How did you get your start as a designer and photographer?

Firstly, I just wanted to say thank you for the chance to be interviewed, I really appreciate it!

A little about me: I grew up in a tiny town in Kansas, which has it’s advantages and disadvantages. For one, the stars shine really bright around here, I mean… the Milky Way literally pours out of the sky at night, which can serve as a great source of inspiration. On the other hand… the closest Chipolte is 45 minutes away.

I have a background in traditional art, as a child and teen I spent a lot of my time sketching, sculpting, and painting with acrylics. In high school I attempted to paint a replica of the Mona Lisa for my murals class, the outcome was less than stellar though…but at least I tried, right?

My pursuit of photography began when I was 18. My brother had given me an old Sony 2.1 megapixel camera which served as my first photographic vessel for experimentation. I gradually purchased nicer and nicer equipment as my skill level and interest grew…and I guess the rest is history. Nowadays I mostly shoot weddings and portraits on a freelance basis. My interest in design started around a year and a half ago and, although I’ve learned a lot, I still have a long way to go before I can call myself a designer.

My readers are likely to know you from your blog Lost and Taken; can you explain a little about your site?  How did the idea for your site come about?  How did you initially envision it?  Has its direction changed over time?  Have you made any mistakes along the way?  If so, what would you have done differently?

Simply put: Lost and Taken is a blog solely dedicated to giving away free high-res textures to photographers and designers. I started the site in July of last year because I saw a need in the design community for good, quality textures that are free, plus… since I have a background in photography it’s a subject I knew I would be confortable with.

Initially, Lost and Taken was just a gallery of textures that barely resembled a blog. As time progressed the blogging platform started to grow on me and I realized I could turn it into a part time hobby (and one that brings in money to boot!).

I really wish I had started the website out as a blog, like it’s current state….but other than that, everything has progressed steadily upward in terms of popularity and quality.

Can you explain why textures are so important in design?  What uses do they have?  How can textures save us time?

Like I previously said, I’m still a learning designer, but in my opinion textures help create websites that offer a more visceral experience to the visitor by incorporating surfaces that we are all familiar with: wood, paper, fabrics, etc.

High quality, high resolution textures are hard to find.  If you wanted to, you could charge a lot of money for your images.  Why do you choose to give these items away for free?

As Mr. Einstein once said: “It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”

Capturing good textures can be a challenging task.  Can you explain a bit about how your photography background has helped you to improve the quality of your work?  What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to create their own textures?

Having a photography background definitely has its advantages when creating textures, I can implement my knowledge of exposure and composition when I’m out shooting.

I currently have a full-fledged texture creation tutorial in the works, but to sum it up here are a couple things to watch for when you are shooting textures:

  1. Make sure that the whole image is in focus by keeping your camera parallel with the surface you are shooting, this may be the single most important thing I can suggest.
  2. Try to expose the image correctly, make sure the whites aren’t “blown out” and the darks aren’t under-exposed. If your camera has a manual mode, try to play around with it for the most optimal results.
  3. Experiment with editing the textures in Photoshop. I almost always end up increasing the contrast in the textures I create, which makes them pop off the screen more (don’t over-do it though).

What kind of camera would you recommend to anyone looking to create their own textures?  Is there any special equipment that you believe is essential?

Really, any camera with decently high resolution will work. I use an old busted up 8MP Canon Powershot to make most of my textures. One thing I will suggest: when shooting macro textures or in low light situations it really pays to have a tripod with you.

What is the best way to light a texture in your opinion?  Do you use studio lights or do you rely on some other method of illuminating your scene?

I’d say 90% of the time I use sunlight to light my textures, it’s just the easiest and most readily available form of lighting. For indoor textures or places where there isn’t ample sunlight I have a Nikon SB-28 bounce flash to help illuminate the scene. One thing I will say: try to avoid using the on-camera flash whenever possible, it only serves to “flatten” the details of the texture.

Do you use any software to help improve your photos and productivity?  If so, can you recommend any to my readers?

I’m a big advocate of open source software, so I use Gimp to edit my textures and Inkscape to create brushes and vectors.

Finally, do you own a mobile device?  If so, which one?  How do you use it to improve your productivity?

My wife got me an iPod Touch for Christmas and I have been addicted to it ever since. I like how I can wake up in the morning and check my email, twitter, analytics, news, and weather…all without leaving my bed! Since I have it with me all the time it also serves as a great note taking device, I have a giant list of texture ideas that I’m constantly adding to.


Lost and Taken:
Personal Website:



Grant Friedman

Grant Friedman is a graphic design, blogger, and author. In addition to being the founder of this website, Grant is also the editor of Psdtuts, one of the world's most popular tutorial websites.

  • Reading this interview makes me want to go out and buy a very expensive camera and read Caleb’s blog daily. Inpsiring!

  • I LOVE Caleb’s textures, awesome interview!

  • Great interview guys! Caleb takes some of the best texture shots I’ve seen and it was really nice to hear his process.