When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?
My undergraduate degree was in business. By the time I finished college in 2001, photography had become enough of a passion for me that I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied pursing the type of job my degree was setting me up for. There was never a definitive time when I set out to make photography my life, I just started shooting photos and the nature of what I was shooting sort of decided what was gonna happen from there. I know that’s a real vague and simplified way of putting it but the process has been pretty organic from the start. Even now I see each photo I choose to make still shaping the future in a direction I may not have expected.
With your commissioned work, do you have ideas in mind that you present to editors/buyers/directors or do you usually get the ideas from them and go from there? How much control and how much collaboration do you like to have?
It seems to be a complete collaboration starting with a client’s objective and ending with everyone coming together to figure out how best to accomplish that. I only control as much of the work as they want or need me to based on each project’s goals. Ideally, the individual style they hire you for in the first place is going to be infused no matter what, so the process is simply a matter of understanding what they want and how you can contribute to exceeding those expectations.
I really enjoyed the videos on your site. Is motion something you are interested in doing more of? How do you see video fitting in with your still photography work?
I am definitely interested in doing more motion pictures. They fit with my still photography in that they both strive to tell stories. The method of getting there is a bit different but in the end of the day, the idea is that the viewer is using a combination of their imagination and your devices to exist in a fictional world, same as with books, music, performance, etc. The fun thing about photography and motion pictures is how thin the line becomes between what people perceive to be real or not. Even if we are experiencing a photo or movie in a venue that acknowledges itself to be a fiction, we get so wrapped up in the reality of the images portrayed that we can suspend that disbelief and enjoy the visit into another world for the time being.
If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?
Oh wow, good question, hmm, OK, here goes: “hey, loudmouth, yeah you, shut the fuck up for one second and listen. you don’t know shit, you’ll never know shit but you might have a chance at making one or two cool things before you die if you start waking up earlier and get to work. Smile a little bit more, be a little bit nicer, laugh a little louder, not that loud, just enough. be interested, not like you are bullshitting but genuinely interested in what others have to say, they know more than you. don’t worry too much, it isn’t gonna solve anything. Make more work with no purpose at all. Don’t stop writing, even if it sucks and no one reads it. Read more. Don’t be afraid of fucking up, everyone does it, It’s OK. Don’t take yourself so seriously. But also take yourself very seriously or no one else will. I know, it doesn’t need to make sense. embrace the weird. we still aren’t sure if it’s gonna pan out in the long run, but there will be a point when you get to make exactly the type of work you want to and almost nothing else so take full advantage of that time and never take it for granted, because it’s a great time. Oh yeah, and go to Australia, you said you were gonna go and never did, I bet it’s fun down there.”
(Ryan is based in Los Angeles. See more of his work, here)