At only 25 years of age, Ryan Michael Kelly is making a big stir in the realm of fashion photography. Already, the young photographer has snapped pics for clients inlcuding Men's Vogue, Vanity Fair Italia, Bloomingdales, Theory, Ann Taylor and more. Look for big things from Ryan as his career progresses. We chatted with Ryan about his career and some of his favorite things.
How did you end up becoming a photographer?
I wanted to be a painter, but my patience got the best of me and a teacher in early high school recommended that I take some photo classes instead. I could shoot, develop, print, all in one day and that is when I knew it was for me! So coming from the must-go-to-college parent generation, I decided to study it in school. I would say by 16 or 17 I knew I wanted to shoot fashion.
The same thing happened to me. I took a clay class and put the duck’s head on backwards on my duck soap dish so I switched to photography. Except I never became a photographer. Who do you prefer to shoot, models or celebs? Men or women?
I like shooting everyone, at the moment I am starting to work on a portrait series which will involve friends so that should be different as most of the time I don't shoot people I know. I just like working with people in general!
What photographers do you look up to? Are there any up-and-coming photographers you want to give a shout out to?
Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Annie Leibowitz. There are too many to name. A great image is a great image. I guess I really look up to Irving Penn, Newton, and Avedon, as they worked and loved their work until death. You can only get better with time.
So how does a guy inform himself when it comes to shooting women and high fashion?
Style.com, hahahaha. I mean I look through all of the shows and see what pieces would be a dream to shoot. In doing so I look through the collections and have a good idea of trends and concepts. But the stylist really makes all of that great stuff come together.
Ah the stylist. That’s key. I wish I had my own personal stylist living in my closet. What motivates you or inspires you? For me, it’s a cute pair of high heels. Stella McCartney in particular.
Music is huge, but I collect a lot of books, magazines; it’s kind of a disease. I have multiple scrap books and files of images, thousands of magazines. I tend to over saturate myself with visuals all the time. But inspiration can really come from anywhere. Movies, the news, a conversation, a memory and best of all collaborations of the like minded!
I love music too. What’s on your iPod right now? I just downloaded the Bronx.
I always say I like everything from Pantera to Pure Moods. I change music pretty quick – hip hop, rock, alt, punk, I like it all. My most favorite of all time though is Nine Inch Nails.
Hmm I don’t know about Pure Moods, but Pantera is pretty bad ass. What do you do when you’re not shooting?
I work on post production, archiving, personal project shoots, beer, billing, concerts, bookstores, bars, bowling, painting, and friends.
What is the craziest thing that ever happened on a shoot?
Hmmmm that's a tough one... Ummm too many things to say and I don't want to get anyone in trouble, but a shoot that gets creative I always find gets crazy.
Way to spill the dirt! Okay fine, we can talk about it off the record later. More importantly, what's your last meal?
Isopure Low Carb Protein Shake with frozen blueberries, kind of a protein smoothie.
What?! That’s your last meal? I was thinking bacon and donuts or something. Mine would definitely be a plate of Krispy Kremes.
Oh haha, I thought you meant what was the last meal I ate! For my last meal, I would definitely go with the entire McDonald’s breakfast menu!
Phew! I thought you were kookoo for a sec. What do you want to shoot for that you haven’t already?
Again there is so much, I feel like I have just started my career as I hope to shoot until I die, but there are a ton of clients and magazines and models that I have my goals set on! Italian, French, and American Vogue is where I have my sights set, but there are a lot of things before that I hope to do.
You can do it! You just need to use the “Secret.” I once used the Secret to manifest a tall blond Dutchman. Last question, artsy films or bro movies?
Artsy films, can't lie about that. Bro movies are boring.
--Interview by Rachel Khona