Travis Shinn – Rebel with a Camera

Our founder, Chris Salgardo, sat with LA-based photographer and director Travis Shinn for our inaugural Grooming Confidential interview. Travis approaches photography the way he approaches life, “he’s all in, all the time.”

Chris and Travis have known each other for over ten years. During that time, they’ve participated in multiple charity motorcycle rides to support amfAR for HIV/AIDS, Brem Foundation for Breast Cancer, and OCRFA for Ovarian Cancer.

Chris Salgardo: What is your favorite thing about photography and being a photographer?

Travis Shinn: I think it’s the connection to people and collaboration. I’m kind of socially awkward until I get into the space, allowing me to communicate and connect with people.

CS: You’ve done a lot of philanthropic work. And we’ve partnered on a lot, going way back. Why is that important to you?

TS: It’s a way to actually give back. There’s no motive behind giving. It’s a pure gift. 


There’s no motive behind giving. It’s kind of a pure gift.

Travis Shinn, photographer & director

CS: Yeah. When we did our first LifeRide for HIV/AIDS, and we’ve done countless rides together, how did that evolve for you? How did you feel about it the first time – and did it surprise you? 

TS: Hah, well, that first ride! It was tough. I learned a lot about myself. By the last ride, it was like a family affair, the one thing that I looked forward to all year. It fed the soul. Getting messages out that needed to get out, my job shifted. It became quite an honor.

CS: What’s your favorite place you’ve been on a motorcycle? 

TS: Oh, there’s so many. But there’s something about Upstate New York that’s kind of stuck with me. It just sort of spoke to me; it just spoke my language a little bit. Parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains were that way, too, once we started getting towards DC. That little corridor. 

CS: What does handsome mean to you?

TS: Handsome? Phew. That comes with a lot. There has to be some brains behind the beauty. It’s a well-rounded thing.

CS: What did you want to be when you grew up? 

TS: I ended up being what I’ve always known I wanted to do. I wanted to be a visual creator. It kind of saved my life at a young age, finding what I was good at. I was a painter; I went to school to paint. Toward the end of college, I kind of fell into photography, and it just stuck. So yeah, I wanted to be a visual person, a visual creator. 


I’ve always known what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a visual creator. It kind of saved my life at a young age, finding what I was good at.

Travis Shinn, photographer & director

CS: Who has inspired your journey the most?

TS: That’s a community, really. My wife, my kid, my father, my stepmom, my mom. My sponsor. It’s a collective community. Because everyone has their little part, you know. It’s a community thing.

CS: What’s the first thing you do when you walk in the door at night?

TS: I take my shoes off. I like to be connected to the ground. Oh, fuck that. No, no, sorry. I kiss my kid and my wife! But my shoes do come off.

CS: Everything in moderation. Agree or disagree?

TS: Hah. You’re asking the wrong person that one. I’m a true man of excess. And I’ve had to learn to do things in moderation.

CS: What would you tell your kid about physically and mentally caring for yourself?

TS: I think if you’re mentally stout, you know everything just kind of matches and falls in line.

CS: What does caring about your appearance mean to you?

TS: I have to have a clean, black shirt! I’m very simple. It’s a pride in presentation.

CS: Are there any products you steal from your significant other?

TS: Yeah, her deodorant. I don’t know why I love the smell of it. But it’s some coconut something. I just love the fucking smell of it.

CS: Do you consider yourself low maintenance?

TS: Yeah, very. No. Oh shit. I think I’m very low maintenance with a few complications.


I think I’m very low maintenance with a few complications.

Travis Shinn, photographer & director

CS: What’s in your shower?

TS: Umm, what’s in my shower? There’s actually a lot of Kiehl’s stuff. A loofah thing. But my favorite thing? My wife, Robyn, has a stick that’s like a massager, but not – because it hurts. That thing is awesome! It’s like you’re supposed to rub out your cellulite or something. I actually really like it. It just feels great.

CS: What’s in your medicine cabinet?

TS: On my side of the medicine cabinet? I have three things, really. I have my Bird’s hair stuff. We need to talk about this. You need to make this thing cuz it’s not always available. I have a classic pomade. I have a comb in there. And I have whatever this black skincare packaged product is. It actually works. I can tell when I don’t use it.

CS: What does grooming mean to you?

TS: Tidying. I’m not a big groomer. I’m a little rough around the edges. I just tidy up a little bit.


I just tidy up a little bit. I’m a little rough around the edges.

Travis Shinn, Photographer & Director

CS: What’s your secret to sticking to your wellness routine?

TS: Trying to just stay out of my own way. That’s where that meditation thing comes from. Just being able to pause and stay present. The best I can. That’s something I have to work on every day.

CS: Any grooming tricks for travel you want to share?

TS: Yeah, anything works in your hair when you’re in a bind. Really, anything works in your hair! Sunscreen. Whatever you forgot, it will work itself out.

CS: What scents evoke specific memories for you?

TS: Oh, I think scent is my biggest memory trigger. I can still smell my dad, and he’s been dead for 16 years. I associate joy, loss, everything with scents.

CS: What does your haircut or style say about you?

TS: Umm, clean, a little punky.

CS: What products do you keep in your gym bag?

TS: Hair stuff. My hair is quite curly. If I’m showering and stuff, all I really need is my hair products.

Photos © Travis Shinn. Used with permission.

CS: Is your routine the same all year long, or do you switch it up?

TS: Yeah, no, it’s the same thing.

CS: What makes you feel sexy? 

TS: Hmm…sexy, I think when you have that, when you’re mentally kind of stout. There’s a conquering thing there, a confidence thing. I won’t dwell too much on the physical stuff. It’s a mental astuteness.

CS: What’s your method for prepping for a trip? 

TS: I have to travel with so much gear that I like to keep everything to a minimum. Personal stuff I try to keep in a small duffle bag. Generally one pair of jeans for a week, a T-shirt for every day, and one dress shirt. And 2 layers. Sweatshirt and an outer layer. Grooming. Toothbrush, comb, pomade, vitamins, and a few aspirin.

CS: COVID changed our lives. How was it for you having your own business?

TS: COVID was scary. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to work again. Once I overcame the initial fear, I could channel things into creativity again. We were doing so many zoom meetings that I started taking macro photos of people on my screen and became very inspired. I started reaching out to people I always wanted to take portraits of and do them remotely. Taking a painterly approach and pushing the medium and textures. I actually feel in love with my medium even more. 

CS: I was honored to have you create the first campaign for ATWATER. What was your inspiration for the shoot? What did you want to capture?

TS: I think I just wanted to be able to tap into what we already had. We’ve become great friends. Not to do something so standard. I know you. Yeah, the beauty thing just looks so fucking sterile. I wanted to put some substance to it. I think our journey out to the desert and stuff allowed that.

CS: Anything else you want us to know about?

TS: I need a minute on that one. Get over yourself, and life will be just fine.


Get over yourself, and life will be just fine.

Travis Shinn, photographer & director

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Travis Shinn is a photographer who specializes in music and entertainment. His music photography has been featured on multiple covers of Rolling Stone, Classic Rock, XXL, in numerous publications, including GQ and Interview, and on album packaging from Morrissey to Diddy to Tool, earning a Grammy recognition for 2006 for “Best Recording Package.” Travis lives and loves in Northeast Los Angeles with his wife, Robyn, and their daughter, Scout.

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