The Story in the Frame
Artist Interview with Kristen Ryan
Kristen Ryan with Lensbaby Burnside 35
Q: When did you start taking photographs and why did you continue?
A: I started taking photographs as a kid. The walls in my room were always lined with photos of friends and family. In high school, I took a few intros to photography classes and a couple in college before life took over. Eventually, when I had children, I wanted to both capture them growing, and I honestly needed something for me. I needed to have an identity again, and photography ended up being that way for me to find it again. I have never been great with words, and photography gave me a way to express myself without needing those words. I started a 365 project to grow my skills and push my creative self, and then my photography journey really took off. Eight years later, I am still working my way through 365's, learning new things along the way and teaching to anyone willing to listen. :)
Q: Which is your favorite Lensbaby lens and why?
Q: How do you bring the best out of your models?
A: Since I don't use many models, but I do photograph my children. My best advice there is to let them forget you have your camera. The less I bother them for a photo, the more willing they are to be in them. They know I capture our activities, and they are totally fine with it as long as it doesn't keep them from doing what they are doing.
Kristen Ryan with Lensbaby Sol 45
Q: What tips do you have for beginners just learning how to use the OMNI Filters?
A: Omni filters are an easy learning curve. They do best, holding them right up to your lens. Longer focal lengths are probably the best to start with bc they will blur them the most when next to your lens; however, I have used them with all kinds of lenses, so don't be afraid to play. Once you hold them up and find the spot you like, be sure to twist it around and find the kind of light you are looking for. Many of them will give you completely different looks just by a simple twist.
Q: How would you describe your photography style?
A: Bright and colorful. Full of light and joy.
Q: What professional photographers have influenced your work, and how do you incorporate their techniques into your photographs?
A: Oh, I have so many photographers that I admire and find inspiration from. But I think it changes regularly; because of my 365, I am constantly pushing myself in new ways, and I find new inspirations frequently because of it. Some weeks I find those work who focuses on still life and admire their use of light and how they make an inanimate object come to life. Then other weeks, I may find inspiration in portrait photography and those who can make a dreamy, painterly photo out of the most simple scenes. Other times I will find inspiration from those who create their own scenes out of composites and bring these magical creations to life. I love seeing how vast creativity can be and how others interpret their own surroundings or those that bring a dream to life. So I am always looking and observing, watching for new inspiration to come my way.
Q: Give us a BTS of your work!
A: All of my photos are developed out of searching for a picture each day for my 365 projects. Some days it is a documentary-style; this is what we did today, kind of photo. Then other days, I have to push myself to see my day in a new way. I love to grab my Lensbaby's because it helps me see it that much easier in a new way with different eyes.
Q: What is the most difficult part of being a photographer?
A: Not getting caught up in what others are doing. We are all here in our own journeys working our way through on our own time. But when you start looking around at what others are doing, you can quickly get lost in your journey. I try to stay focused on myself and what I am learning, proudly knowing that I am surrounded by others who are much better than me—looking up with inspiration vs. jealousy. Learning from them rather than trying to be like them. I love where I have been along this photography journey, and I am excited to see where I will go -enjoying every step along the way.
Q: What details do you believe make the best photographs? How do you go about focusing on them in your work?
A: I believe that it is all in the details. Each photograph is a story in a frame. You want your viewer to feel what you are feeling or come to some conclusion about the scene you put in front of them. For me, it is almost like a diary. I put into my photographs my feelings of a scene. The light, the colors, the movement all play a part in what I am feeling in that particular moment.
Q: What was your journey into photography like?
A: I took a few basic intros into photography courses in school; however, I didn't really start learning how my camera worked or how to use manual mode until after I had kids and picked up my camera again. I had read somewhere that the best thing you could do to learn photography was to start a 365 project. So I did because I had no idea how to use manual mode or how to see light, and I wanted to learn quickly. Well, it was the most challenging project, and yet it did everything it said, and here I am 8 years later, way further into this journey than I could have ever imagined!
Q: What inspires you most?
A: My every day inspires me. I am constantly looking for new ways to see the mundane. I think each day is a blessing, and we shouldn't just be on the go all the time, getting from point A to point B without looking at the in-between. It is the in-between moments that slip between our fingers, and the next thing we know, it is five years later, and we feel like we just blinked.
Q: Tell us your favorite quote!
A: "Let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out."-Theodore Roosevelt
Q: What is your favorite subject to photograph?
A: Hands down, my family. This is why I pick up my camera, it is my story in photos and it will always be at the center of my photographs.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer?
A: Expressing myself in a way that I never could before.