Ryan Wilson: Lifestyle Portraiture and Evoking Emotion


All images by Ryan Wilson. Used with permission.

Photographer Ryan Wilson lives in the east bay of California. “I’ve been taking photos now for a little over a year and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.” he tells the Phoblographer. “I also love to golf, which seems totally opposite to my creative side.”

For a man photographing for such a short amount of time, the quality of work that he produces is truly incredible. You see, Ryan’s images tend to convey some sort of emotion and therefore also make the viewer feel it. It’s one of the most important things that every photographer needs to need.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.


Ryan: I wasn’t always into photography, I actually started off doing digital film editing. I attended the Academy of Art for two years for editing and I loved it, but eventually I realized that this wasn’t something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I decided to stop going there and then I had no idea what I wanted to do. I started taking classes at my community college and took a digital photography class there, and ever since then I haven’t put the camera down.

Phoblographer: What made you want to get into portraiture?


Ryan: I attended my first instameet in Sacramento and it was more of a lifestyle walk around the city kind of meet. A lot of the people there were portrait photographers and they brought some models to join. I was pretty nervous to start taking photos of people because I was pretty shy but I actually befriended one of the models there and walked around with her the whole time and started shooting portraits of her. And I just haven’t been able to stop since.

Phoblographer: Your sense of composition and using space is mostly around centering your subjects and using depth of field and few colors to really bring an emphasis to your subject. Where did you learn to compose like this and where do you typically draw your inspiration from?


Ryan: I believe I learned that kind of composition from the Academy and my OCD makes me want to put everything in the center with a vanishing point in the center if I can. And I get a lot of my inspiration from other photographers I follow on Instagram; such as Jay Lorenzo, Bryan Castillo, and Jaquory Lunsford.

Phoblographer: You tend to work with a lot of natural light, how do you feel it helps you convey your specific creative vision?


Ryan: I just feel that natural lights conveys more of a sense of reality. I will keep bumping the iso up just so I don’t have to use artificial light. Natural light sets the tone of the image for me for that day, and it can be different day in and day out. It really allows me to be creative making me think about where the light is coming from and how I can light the subject with what that day has given me.

Phoblographer: Run us through a typical shoot with you. Is there storyboarding involved? How do you and the model collaborate to create the images that you want?

Ryan: No, not really any story boarding at all, sometimes I’ll use Pinterest to get a sense of what I want to the shoot to look like, and if I want to do a certain idea say use a mirror in the shot, we will try and do everything with it to see what the possibilities are. Staying on the mirror idea, I just did a shoot with one and I was wanting the subject to hold the mirror in front of them while holding onto it and sitting on the floor. Pointing the mirror back at me while shooting was what we planned to do at the beginning and we took a couple shots like that and it looked good, however, it was missing something. So I showed the subject the photo and they looked around and saw another mirror hanging on the wall and said to hold it in front of me pointing back at them while I was shooting. And that was what that photo needed.


It wasn’t what I was thinking going in, but it ended up being better than what I wanted. We just go back and forth changing little things if needed to get a desired result and use both of our creative talents.

Phoblographer: How do you go about finding the locations that you want to shoot at and finding models to work with?


Ryan: I used to photograph only landscapes, which I would go out with friends and other photographers who would know of cool locations. A lot of the time my locations are based around the ones I’ve been to to shoot landscapes. And also just depends on what kind of shoot we are going for, if it’s something crazy or silly, I’ve done shoots in grocery stores, and Home Depot for example. Finding models for me is pretty easy. I follow many photographers and most are portrait and so I see a lot of models being photographed which I sometimes reach out to them and email/dm to see if they would like to shoot. And then there are people who see my work and get in contact with me wanting to shoot as well.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use.


Ryan: I use a Canon 6D with a Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art. And that is all I use. Equipment is expensive, however, ever since I got that combo, I haven’t been able to put it down. The lens is too sharp and the colors are too good for me to not use it all the time.

Phoblographer: Where do you want your photography career to be in the next year?


Ryan: I would love to be more established, and possibly shooting and working with different brands. Also id like to get my feet more wet in the wedding business. I would like to be shooting some here and there, just get more experience in the field.