Steven Bearden has always been interested in seeing the world from above, so when the pandemic hit in 2020 and he lost his job, he decided to invest in his interest in photography and buy a drone.
“I thought maybe this could become a back-up income for me, that maybe I could reach out to realtors who needed aerial photography,” he says. “I looked around Knoxville and saw there weren’t a lot of aerial photographers. I thought there was a good opportunity for me to get some good photos, and yeah, it flourished.”
By the fall of 2020, Steven established an Instagram account to showcase his work, and more than two years and five thousand followers later, he’s captured some of the most iconic images that define both downtown Knoxville but also the beauty of the surrounding area.
“The UT videos did it. I’d gone downtown with my daughter in July, and the light was hitting just right, and they’d just put the VOLS signs up, so I took photos and posted them. It was perfect timing,” he says. “That’s where my following grew, thanks to UT fans.”
One video in particular had an incredible effect on his online traction.
“I took a video of the stadium and set it to the song ‘Vols For Life’ by local songwriter Matt Stillwell. I posted it two days before the Alabama game,” says Steven. We all know what happened next.
While there is plenty of love for downtown Knoxville, Steven enjoys catching sunrises and sunsets on Fort Loudoun Lake, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Tennessee River.