Kyle Petersen has always had a camera — in some form — in his hands.
“If it was with my iPod or whatever, just making videos,” the La Salle Peru Township High School senior said. “I was always the kid if we had a school project I’d go all out with it.”
It was when his friend and neighbor, Matthew Klein, got a drone in 2017 when his hobby really came into focus.
“I thought it was so cool, so I had to get one and next thing you know we’re actually using the camera on it and that’s when we started to post stuff and then when it really took off,” he said.
The first video Petersen remembers gaining attention on social media was a video of aerial views of Peru. With the large number of views the video received and interest from other cities wanting to promoting their towns, Petersen and Klein realized this could be a job for them.
“Everything nowadays is coming to video and we understand social media,” Petersen said. “Business and cities are reaching out to us for that reason.”
Since then, they’ve kept busy working for cities and businesses shooting promotional videos.
“I love the connections and experiences that come along with doing this,” he said.
He said he recently visited a city to shoot video for an event he had never heard of. He enjoyed the experience of learning about a new event and that, in a way, shooting videos is like having a backstage pass. He goes behind the scenes to get his shots.
“If I wasn’t doing any of this I’d probably just be sitting in my room playing video games or something,” he said. “I get to learn things. I think the whole process of bettering my skills and learning new things is invaluable.”
He’s also seen his footage used on national television. A few months ago the History Channel aired an episode of “American Pickers” filmed at the shuttered Herrcke’s Hardware in La Salle. He was watching the episode from his home the night it aired and saw footage of a city of La Salle sign that looked familiar, like a shot he had taken.
“I was watching it and that’s the same angle, the same colors, spoke length, everything,” he said.
He called Klein and they watched it again and both agreed it looked like same.
“Turns out (Klein) had it on the stock video website we sell clips on,” he said.
The network had purchased the footage, but the payment hadn’t gone through. Petersen had no idea the clip was going to be used.
“The fact that my equipment and skills were good enough to be on national television is pretty cool,” he said.
The L-P senior also gives his talents to his school by live-streaming sporting events and editing a podcast earlier in the year. He also shot a hype video for the football team in the fall.
After high school, he plans to attend a four-year college or Illinois Valley Community College with a transfer later. He plans to focus his studies on video production.
He recently started his own business, Kyle Petersen Visuals, offering video and photo production.
Matthew Klein said he is excited everyone gets to see more of his talent now that he’s branched out.
“I think it’s something he’s really excited about and it’s something I think a lot of people have been wanting him to do for awhile,” Klein said of Petersen’s new venture.
“It’s nice to see it online. Normally, we would just share stuff on my Facebook page, but now it’s nice where he has a place to share his content,” he said, noting a video Petersen posted the night before already has more than 5,000 views on Facebook.
Klein appreciates the perspective Petersen brings to projects. Sometimes Klein said he would shoot something and wouldn’t be satisfied.
“But then Kyle will say, ‘All right, maybe you should switch up this a little or you should switch it to this.’ Then it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a great idea,’” Klein said.
Klein is attending IVCC and appreciates how Petersen’s high school schedule doesn’t hold him back. Klein said Petersen sometimes gets up before school to do homework, meets him after school and works late with him on projects.
“So he’s up from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. in some cases, so he’s very determined, very hardworking.”