Badlands by Ryan Lowry
Whether he’s shooting on location for TIME magazine, portraying a creative mind – while discussing the difficulties of working in the field – for The Great Discontent or documenting a day in the life of a young Chicago rapper/gang member (which seems to be almost synonymous these days), the talented Chicago-based photographer Ryan Lowry finds the right frames in all situations. Next to his work on commissions, out of which the TGD cover shoot was our introduction to his work, Lowry also created several series of free work. We are particularly drawn to his series named ‘Badlands’ which reveals the diversity of his photographic eye. In his portrait photography Lowry uses a lot of light, exposing as many details of the subject as possible, yet within ‘Badlands’ the photographer leaves a lot of room for imagination. The moody black and white images portray the dessert from a very mysterious perspective – creating an almost moon-like appearance – in which light and dark are strongly juxtaposed, both in the landscapes as the few male figures dressed in white and dark in some of the photographs. The mystique of these images continue to fascinate us thoroughly and we look out to more work by the talented photographer.
I like being in the world and observing and reacting to how I personally feel in a situation, and then figuring out how to make that into an interesting photo.
After graduating from Columbia College, Ryan Lowry landed his first assignment for the local newspaper the Chicago Reader through a friend. His portrait of a punk musician led to a cover assignment for the same paper to photograph a group of Chicago rappers, which was followed by other assignments on the booming Chicago rap scene, most consistently from The FADER. He says working in Chicago’s less-saturated market has benefitted his nascent career, but more and more, people call him because they feel he’s right for a job – rather than because of his homebase. He has worked for the mentioned magazines; TIME Magazine, The Great Discontent and The FADER, next to Runners World and Esquire. His work also has ben exhibited in different galleries throughout the United States from the Front Room Gallery; Working Title; I Hate The Blues; Chaos/Control to the Albert P. Weisman Award Exhibition, and in China at the Pingyao International Photo Festival.
In an interesting interview with Urban Outfitters Lowry states on his early beginnings in photography:
I got into photography via skateboarding—when I was like 12. I would buy Thrasher magazine and there would be these contact sheets of guys hitting huge rails—something about seeing the film strips got me interested. So I begged my parents for a camera. They got me a 35mm film camera and signed me up for these intro to photo classes at this local art center.
And on his current way of working:
All my personal stuff is about the everyday and taking mundane experiences and reevaluating them; it’s personal and about me, but I want to make it available for other people. I shoot every day, so it interweaves between my professional and personal life. The good thing about getting an assignment is that it’s always a different challenge. If I’m shooting a guy in a suit it becomes; How do I make shooting someone in a suit interesting for myself again?
Order Ryan Lowry’s book ‘Two Years’ – which he released himself in an edition of 250 last year – here.
For more work and information on Ryan Lowry see here.