“I draw inspiration from other perspectives. At all times, every single day, I try and view life from the eyes of others. Whether that be my family, my friends, my co-workers, or strangers, I try to open my mind to how they see the world and how that is different from how I see things. I feel like doing this continually gives me fresh perspective and a new sense of understanding of the people around me, which I can then apply to my photography.”
Ryan Hall is a 22 year old Photographer who currently lives Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was born in Virginia but grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. Ryan and his family moved to Clarksville, Tennessee when he was in 8th grade, to help take care of his grandmother. When she passed away in her sleep at the age of 101, his family moved back to Florida. Seeing as Ryan was already two years into college at The University of Chattanooga, he decided to stay. He plans to return to Florida following his graduation this year, where he will pursue a career in Photography. Ryan recently started experimenting with video, and you can see his first one above. Read on to find out more about Ryan and his work.
Tell us about your photography and how you got started.
Though I’m extremely outgoing and social today, I wasn’t always that way. After my first year of high school, I desperately wanted to home-school. My best friend was moving to Seattle and I didn’t care to really meet anyone else. My parents finally agreed and I began a home-school program during my sophomore year. The program was incredibly easy and I would finish my assigned work within three hours every day. My parents would be at work and my brother at school, so with so much free time, I decided I wanted to pick up a hobby. Initially, I tried yo-yoing, but that obviously didn’t work out. I found a camera in the basement downstairs and began learning about photography and applying my free time to that.
Was this always what you wanted to do or did it emerge over time?
My passion for photography definitely emerged over time. At first, it was a hobby that I simply enjoyed learning about and killing free time with. I didn’t realize until much later down the road that photography was a huge creative outlet for me, would become a large part of my identity, and would eventually connect me with the most amazing people and opportunities.
What is it you love about photographing people?
I’ve become an incredibly extroverted and outgoing person, and I love to meet and interact with others all the time. I love style, I love uniqueness, and I love photography. I think the blend of my personality and my passion birthed my love for capturing people’s individuality and translating it into a photo. People are the most interesting and complex beings on the planet in my eyes. We are all the same, but we are all so vastly different. Every face has a set of eyes, a nose, a mouth. But each face bounces light differently, moves in different ways. Each individual brings a different style, perspective, and fluidity to the final image, which excites me, because it’s always something new.
Who has helped you in the process of following your dream?
So many people. More than I could have ever imagined or have expected. My parents were the first to pour into my newfound hobby. They believed in me since the beginning, and still do. For my birthday during my sophomore year, the year I home-schooled, my dad took me to Best Buy and bought me my first DSLR. It was a major improvement from the little blue digital camera I started shooting with. At my church in Clarksville, TN., so many people either helped me learn, encouraged me, or booked me for photo-shoots even though I was a terrible photographer at the time. Looking back, I know it’s because they believed in me and wanted to support me. Most importantly, and very recently, one of my best friends Taylor Dearman, who pushed me to shoot and to practice when I had no motivation to. He helped me persevere through one of the hardest times of my life, and my passion for photography was fully ignited during that time. Lastly, my friend group, who all continually celebrate my accomplishments with me and are always so excited to see all of my new work.
What inspires you?
I draw inspiration from other perspectives. At all times, every single day, I try and view life from the eyes of others. Whether that be my family, my friends, my co-workers, or strangers, I try to open my mind to how they see the world and how that is different from how I see things. I feel like doing this continually gives me fresh perspective and a new sense of understanding of the people around me, which I can then apply to my photography. I also go to Instagram and stalk my favourite photographers, sometimes studying their work for hours as I lay in bed before falling asleep. Lines, lighting, and subject matter are all so interesting to me.
What challenges have you encountered and how have you overcome them?
Last summer was one of the most agonizing times of my life to date. I lost two people that meant the world to me over irreconcilable differences. Though I had always enjoyed photography, it was not yet my passion until I went through everything that I did. Several of my closest friends encouraged me to focus on myself for once, and to pick up my camera and create art. Through the pain, I did a self-portrait series (unreleased) and realized how much I had missed taking photos. From there, I began bringing my camera with me everywhere I went. When I didn’t, my friends would scold me and make me go back and get it so I would continue creating art. My friends and my camera helped me to push through and understand the emotions I was dealing with, and truly helped me to work past them. I would not be where I am and would not have to opportunity I have today without going through what I went through. To you two, if you are reading this, I genuinely want to thank you and wish you both the absolute best. My current challenge is convincing my grandparents and others who care about me that I can do this and support myself by doing this. Answering questions about how I’m going to use my business degree is tough, because hopefully, all it’ll ever be is a nice piece of framed memorabilia at my parent’s place. Some people aren’t too understanding of that.
Have you encountered burnout and if so how did you deal with it?
Sometimes, I experience burnout when I have to shoot things I’m not interested in shooting to make money. I continue to do it though, because doing things we don’t want to do/or being uncomfortable helps us to learn and grow. Doing these shoots allows for the finances to buy more equipment and to work towards what I actually want to do, which is fashion, lifestyle, and celebrity work.
Your photographs are captioned with inspiring and thoughtful notes. Tell us a little bit about the message you are sharing with your work.
As humans, we have all experienced some form of tribulation. I want to be able to use my experiences to help and inspire others. There’s no reason to be unrealistic about life and to pretend that everything is perfect, and that I’m already living the dream. There are a lot of people that look at my work (which is still weird/new to me), and if I can include a message that can help shape and positively influence someone for the better, then I feel fulfilled as an artist. It’s all about understanding yourself so you can better understand others.
How did you learn to deal with criticism?
I’ve never been one to really care what others think. Of course I still deal with insecurity like everyone else, but that’s more attributed to physical aspects, not work that I produce. Any work that I create, I am proud of. Photography is subjective, it is art and it is ever changing. It can be whatever you want it to be, and whatever you make of it. Criticism comes whenever you open your heart, your mind, and your work to others. Alluding back to understanding perspective, criticism can be incredibly beneficial because it allows you to understand how others are viewing your work and why they see it that way.
What is it that you love about living a creative life?
The freedom! I am on a path towards self-employment, which is a beautiful thing. I have met the most amazing and incredible people through creative communities in my city and through Instagram. A creative life is just that –whatever you create it to be. It’s ever evolving and the excitement never dies.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
I would tell them as I tell to many who ask me, that there is no better time than now to pursue a creative dream. This generation is the first in history to have the opportunity that we do. Social media has allowed for artists to reach the masses and connect with others across the world. It allows for real and engaging feedback, and a way to network with others who are living the same dream. For the first time in a history, a photographer can showcase their work to the world. There is no better time than now. Also – YouTube is your best friend for learning!
What have you learned in the process of following your dream?
I’d say that the most important thing I’ve learned since I started pursuing photography full time in September of last year is that there is more opportunity and support out there than I could have ever imagined. I’ve learned that it is possible to make this a reality and to redefine society’s standard of life. The house, the car, the family, the 9-5…they aren’t for me, at least not yet.
What are you most excited for in the future?
I’m excited for open doors and continual opportunity. I’m excited about who I’ll continue to connect with and work with, and I’m excited to see how my work will evolve. I’m excited to live my dream. All glory to God.