This week’s Welcome to the Insta-hood is on @ryanfromdreamland !
- Tell me a little about yourself:
“From age 0-11 I felt like I was a pretty normal kid–happy, ate pizza.
From 12-20 things got complicated… found it extremely difficult to relate to people.
From 21-28 I retreated into creative projects alone–music, photos, films.
At 29 I came back from the crossroads, suddenly good at taking photos.
From 30-34 I was tremendously frustrated and sad due to my lack of success. Just going bald at my low-paying job.
From 35-present I took responsibility and prioritized changing myself, self improvement, doing things I feared or had avoided. Went through much embarrassment and pain, but learned a lot. Seems to be going better now.”
2. What made you interested in photography?
“I used to go to estate sales with my dad, and at one there was all this 35mm slide stuff–slides, projector, screen. There was a little document that went with it that was typed on a typewriter. “Ethel took me and Janet to the airport at 7:30 in the morning. Wore a sweater and a skirt.” There were all these cool old slide pictures of these ladies in front of glaciers with crazy glasses on, and I liked it. While I was looking at it, a relative of the family told me that they got laid off from their jobs, so they just went on cool trips and took photos the whole time.
I bought all the equipment and made slideshows of all their best photos and showed them to my friends. There was one pink slide where she’d written “That’s all. Good night.” I always used that as the last picture in the show. Slides were the best because it was like making a movie out of still pictures… but a pure one, meaning the pictures weren’t scans or anything… nothing digital happened to them. They just showed up really big on the wall, four feet wide or more, with the real colors exactly right. The whites white and the blacks black and all showing up the correct and natural way, instead of a scan which has to make choices and compromises.
For several years all I took were slide photos, before I learned how to scan my own negatives. At the same time, I was really inspired by the excellent quality of color photography in Playboy magazines of the ’60s which I collected. From them I learned to work on the background as much or more than the subject.”
3. What are your favorite places or people to photograph and why?
“Here’s what I look for in a place to take photos.
A) Are there multiple potential backgrounds in this place? Or just one? I always try to pick places which have the potential for the highest number of different backgrounds in one day or shooting session. Such as if you pick a park with big trees, you will get big trees or grass as your background for every photo. But if you pick the Madonna Inn, say, which you know has a lot of different areas inside and outside that you can easily go to that are all old and cool, you know you might get ten or more different backgrounds.
B) The second thing I look for in a location is shade. If it’s not at golden hour, daylight-balanced film photos need to be in shade to look good. So you might plan to do some in shade first and then others out in the open as the sun begins to set.
As for people, I have found that the best photo subjects are those who are loose. Meaning it’s not so much that the person is attractive or stylish, but rather that your relationship with the person is such that both you the photographer and they the subject are having fun and not worried. It makes your photos seem spontaneous and fun even if they were extensively planned. It’s still possible to get good photos with people you are uncomfortable around, but I would say it increases the chances to get a higher number of “hit” photos in a day.
Also, though, it does help if the person looks interesting. Like, everything is going into your photo frame, so don’t make anyone look at something which isn’t that great. Imagine the image you are making was a painting instead of a photograph. In a painting, a person’s shirt could take up maybe 40% of the canvas. That’s a lot. Make sure the color or pattern of the shirt makes sense with the other elements.
If I named specific people who I have enjoyed photographing the most, I would say @thunderpuss and @marisolmuro.
They both naturally wear interesting outfits with good colors and things, so it saved me having to do the work of making some of those choices.”
4. Are there any movies you have seen this year that has inspired your work?
“I wouldn’t say especially this year, but overall movies have inspired my stuff more than anything else. I was a cinema major in college and I didn’t have any friends ’cause I was shy and scared of people, so I would just watch movies in the library there by myself all the time. They had everything on laserdisc and you could just have them put it on for you for free and you would watch it on a little TV in a cubicle with old brown rubber headphones on.
I have always seen movies as, like, the most complete and meaningful art form… where everything I’ve already done–music, photos–has just been unconnected fragments of the big show, a feature film. So the things that have inspired me are…
The overall writing and focus on the realistic interaction of people (or lack thereof) from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate, Rushmore, The Trouble With Angels, La Strada, and Le Souffle Au Coeur. Also most of these all have tragic, weighty endings.
The apparent spontaneity and lack of “rules” from Godard, as well as the 4×3 aspect ratio and framing of women’s faces, namely Bande a Part, Masculine Feminin, Vivre sa Vie, A Woman Is A Woman. Also Funeral Parade of Roses and Hausu are super unpredictable like that, but they’re not Godard.
The numerous memorable, iconic color images of Kubrick, namely 2001, Clockwork Orange, and The Shining.
The dialogue and American editing of Scorsese–where it’s not super fast crazy French stuff, but you still see it in an in-your-face way, where all those scenes become famous just from slow motion and music–When De Niro walks in the bar without his pants to the Rolling Stones in Mean Streets, when he warms up in slow motion at the beginning of Raging Bull to classical and also later in the knockout/marriage montage, when he smokes the cigarette to Sunshine of your Love in Goodfellas.”
5. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?
” I started an email list in December where every Sunday I send out a link to a free movie you can watch at home, a cool lesser-known visual place you can go, or a practical tactic I’ve tested that you can use, such as systems to be more productive or get better creative ideas. I was really surprised that everybody kept writing back to every email and thanking me. I call it the “inner circle” and we’re almost at 1,000 people. It’s all free and here if anybody wants to join:
Besides that, I’ve finally got my website going to sell big photos, and I’m trying to finish the third draft of my first feature. (And quit my normal job haha.)The site is SometimesFilms.com.
Thank you so much for the interview Ryan!
Until next time!