Ryan Schude on The Diner
It seems like all the characters of a movie are waiting to deliver their story. Who is the man standing outside the diner holding a bouquet of pink flowers? What are the kids doing on the floor outside the diner? What is happening inside? If we where in a movie theater we would know the answer as soon as the film would start rolling. But in Ryan Schude pictures we are left with our imagination. Many small details are however there , maybe they are the clues to discover the stories of each character of this imaginary world that seem to be a fragment of a David Lynch movie. Ryan Schude imagination is contagious and his master of lighting, color and control of small details are just some of the reason why if you love photography and movies you can’t miss this photographer work.
Can you introduce yourself and how/when you started photography?
I went to school for Business Administration in Northern California before figuring out I wanted to pursue photography. After getting my degree I took a year of classes at the San Francisco Art Institute before starting to shoot freelance for a magazine in San Diego. After a year or so, I moved down to San Diego to work full time for the same magazine as photo editor and staff photographer. After 3 years there, the magazine went out of business and I had to move to L.A. to start over as an assistant to other photographers while I could build my book up to enter a new editorial and commercial world. After two years of that I am now just being able to shoot freelance full time again.
What is that interest you in photography?
Well, I never had the talent to paint or draw, so photography is my way of bringing imaginary situations to life.
How would you describe your work and how do you choose the subjects you work on?
The subjects I choose for my personal work tend to be old or young for the most part, they generally are less self conscious than the in between years and so produce more interesting expressions. The work is ambiguous, hoping to suggest a story that isn’t quite clear but may hint at several different scenarios. I like the lighting dramatic and the situation to be offbeat.
The works DINER, BAGO and The Saturn are beautifull composition featuring many people. How do you direct them? Do you have many assistants? And how long does it take you for this kind of shot?
Directing those photos is a giant task. The preparation can be up to several weeks, then we shoot for a full day, and then the post is usually a week long process. Since I made all of those photos on my own budget, the team consists of whoever is willing and able to help. I basically did the Saturn photo all by myself, whereas the Diner photo had up to 8 people helping art direct, prop and wardrobe style, lighting techs, talent wranglers, etc. My roommates at the Forge, Dan Busta and Collins Schude always come through huge for me.
What material do you use?
These days I always shoot digital but definitely went through the trenches with film and a darkroom in the past.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. Just walking around seeing crazy locations, watching films, reading books, listening to music and of course other photographers. Living in L.A. now definitely gives me motivation to push for bigger productions but I still appreciate and love to make simpler photos when the opportunity is right.
How did you started to work for magazines?
Submitting to competitions has done good for me as far as getting editorial work. Also, just cold emailing photo editors and getting the portfolio in front of them in person.
For editorial work how do you prepare yourself? Do you meet the people first or read about them? How much time do you have for each picture?
A lot of editorial work doesn’t allow for much prep time. If you get an hour you are lucky but sometimes it’s more like, “You have 3 minutes.” The times I have been able to actually prepare and think out a good shot are always dependent on the subject. If they are willing to work with you then the photo will always turn out a million times better. I don’t usually do much research on the person because what is going to make the strongest impression in the photo is the visual. That said, location is almost always gonna determine the photo for me since that is the style of photo I am trying to make.
What are the main difficulties in portraiture for editorials?
Mostly what I mentioned above, being limited by location, how much the subject is willing to work with you and how much time you have.
What does make a “good portrait” for you?
I had a teacher who insisted that the content of your photo doesn’t determine it’s quality. To some extent, I understand what he meant and agree with him. At the end of the day though, If I have to shoot a photo an emo band in Hot Topic and have 10 minutes to do it, I am simply not going to be happy with the photo regardless of how well I execute it.
What do you look for in other photographers work?
Consistency of style.
If you could invite 3 photographers or artist at a dinner who would it be and why?
Eddie Murphy, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray, all from the ’80’s because that would be funny as hell.
Any young photographers or Flickr member which work you really like and that you would like us to discover?
What advice would you give to a young portrait photographer?
Don’t be afraid or lazy
Thank you Ryan.
Interview by Frankie
Visit alos Ryan Shude Website