LA-based photographer Ryan Schude is a great talent—his work is something that one has to see in person to truly appreciate his ability to create scenes that seem to bring Americana to the realm beyond imagination. His photographs are works of art that the viewer comes back to time and again, discovering new elements hidden within the image. Schude captures scenes with many moving parts— it is in the details, where the magic of his work lies.
Schude recently exhibited his latest project at bG Gallery in Santa Monica. Give Us the Wind, his second solo exhibit included his recent works, mostly portraits of Los Angelinos in their environments. Karen Silbert in “Den” in her home in Silverlake and Jamie Nelson in “Northridge” are just two of the many works on display.
A native of Chicago, Schude has lived in LA since 2006 and has spent most of his time capturing on camera fascinating local personalities. LA architecture and design serve as inspiration for his images, and its unique aesthetic is traceable in his work.
Fine Art Globe spoke with the photographer about his creative process and most recent projects.
FA: Your imagery is very intricate, detail-based, and obviously, has lots of moving parts. How long does a typical production take you from conceptualization to the finished product?
RS: Usually, there are a few months of pre-production involved, but that can be condensed into a week or two if necessary. Each one is so unique in its approach and if we are working with a full crew and clients, or through an agency, the process varies. The personal shoots are much simpler, as there is less discussion needed for decisions to be made. Collaborating with large teams has numerous benefits both creatively and logistically, not to mention it can be a ton of fun along the way. That said, there is equal love for being able to do a whole shoot by myself and cut out all the intricacies involved with a larger production.
FA: What has been your most difficult shoot to pull off?
RS: One of the largest casts involved 70 people spread out at Coney Island for Motorola. The client stipulated that we needed to shoot it on their camera phone and get it in 1 take as opposed to compositing. All of my shoots are lit and directed to achieve the end result in 1 take, but I usually end up grabbing the best actions from a handful of different frames stitched together. I was confident I could do what they were asking, but it was beyond nerve-racking to prove it with so much on the line. There is a myriad of variables that went into making that shoot so difficult. You can read about the project in more detail here.
FA: Do you have one piece that you think most defines you as an artist?
RS: The Saturn was one of my first experiences casting actors and staging a production of that scale. Working with no assistants or collaborators and doing so with such little knowledge of what I was doing and what it was going to lead to, will forever be what I think of when I look at all of the work as a whole. At the time, I recently moved to Los Angeles after the magazine I worked at in San Diego went out of business. Even though I had plenty of experience around the hyper-specific work I was doing down there, I knew I had to start over from scratch and move in a new direction. I started assisting commercial photographers and working at a camera rental shop, which allowed me to use as much equipment as I wanted. This changed everything. I realized I could manage to create high production value images with little to no money or crew, and that was the catalyst that put everything else into motion.
FA: Tell me about any upcoming projects you are working on currently.
RS: With the world shut down for the foreseeable future, amassing large groups of people at the same time doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now. That said, I would love to start reaching out to organizations interested in collaborating on a tableau as soon as we can safely return to working in the same locations together again. The last one of note took place at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I am hoping to continue looking for art organizations and groups of any size for that matter, which could benefit from this process. In the meantime, my wife and I are in discussions about a narrative series we can accomplish on our property.
FA: Do you have a concept you would like to work on in the future?
RS: I have made a couple of fabric installation images, which I am looking to get back into as well.