There's something tremendously refreshing about Ryan Liebe's photography.
Unpretentious in both composition and presentation, the artist's work emits a sincerity and wisdom that proves altogether timeless. To the viewer, Ryan's goal becomes immediately evident: to capture life in its realest state, telling a story through the delicate juxtaposition of light and texture. As unique as it is beautiful, his work allows for an unmistakably rare documentation of the avenues of food, travel, interior, and lifestyle photography.
The newest artist to join the JMI roster, Ryan sits down with JMI's Jenn to discuss the ins and outs of his profession, work-life approach, and unique creative point-of-view.
JMI REPS: How did you first get started as a photographer? Was it something you'd always seen in your future, or did you more "fall into" the profession?
Ryan Liebe: It started early. When I was about six or seven, I got my first camera for Christmas. It was a Fisher-Price 110-cartridge camera; I thought it was awesome. I'd walk around taking photos of anything and everything, and even when I would run out of film, I'd keep snapping away, making imaginary pictures on imaginary film. In high school, I was a yearbook photographer...one thing led to another, and I ended up... at Brooks Institute of Photography, hoping to turn a passion into a career.
JMI: What inspires your work?
RL: Food is always inspiring me; trying new things, and enjoying simple timeless recipes. Texture and light [also] inspire me, and the way that light and textures play together to create beautiful shapes.
JMI: Do you try to achieve anything particular when you shoot?
RL: Capturing a slice of life that's simple, with a certain realness about it.
JMI: What's the key to achieving that feeling of realness and believability?
RL: I try to create a narrative in every image by attempting to give the viewer a feeling that there is a real person interacting with the subject...just out of view, outside the frame. I try to shape the light in a way that falls naturally across the frame, playing with shadows and highlights, giving the image a tactile feeling, like you can just reach in and pick something out of the image.
JMI: Has your work or shooting style been influenced by any particular events in your life?
RL: Assisting and learning from so many wonderfully talented people opened my eyes and allowed me to see things I'd been missing before.
JMI: Who, specifically? Are there any photographers or artists who have inspired you, or influence your work at all?
RL: I tend to find inspiration in films and everyday situations where the light is doing something unique and interesting. Irving Penn was always an inspiration, as well as a few of the iconic fashion guys like Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton. I [also] appreciate the cinematic lighting of Gregory Crewdson, and the beautifully graphic industrial landscapes by Edward Burtynsky.
JMI: Do you think your work has, in any way, evolved since you first started out?
RL: It's constantly evolving... [I'm] always reflecting on and learning from the last shoot, understanding new likes and dislikes, [and] trying to push the boundaries to find something new and unexpected.
JMI: When someone closes your portfolio, what perception of you and your work do you want that person to walk away with?
RL: Down to earth, unfussy, and an appreciation for simplicity and light.
JMI: What's the most difficult part of your profession? Or, when you walk into a shoot, what's the biggest challenge you find yourself facing?
RL: I think mostly it's just staying true to my vision and not second-guessing my gut instinct. Also, giving the client what they want, what they expect from me... but keeping it fresh at the same time. And lastly, as a daylight shooter: walking into a studio or a shooting space that has no windows (laughs).