When I tell people I am a "Landscape Photographer," the first thing most people imagine is that I run around with my camera and shoot mountains. This is the stereotype, and they would be partially correct. However, I am a Landscape Photographer in two very different senses of the word.
My family owns a plant nursery in Rowlett, Texas, called COVINGTON’S NURSERY and throughout my career, I have consistently photographed residential landscapes. There are no mountains or beaches in Dallas, so here we are talking about the kind of landscapes that occur because a bunch of guys in a truck showed up to your house with shovels and plants and labored that landscape into existence.
With equal enthusiasm, but often much farther from home, I also photograph naturally occurring landscapes around the world, as well as the people and animals that live there. This is a very different task from shooting in the relatively controlled environment of a residential yard, and each of these two types of Landscape Photography comes with their own unique set of challenges and rewards.
Let's Talk PHOTOGRAPHY, Shall We?
My primary stylistic influences as a photographer should come as no surprise, because like so many kids of my generation, photography entered our home in basically just two main ways: our subscriptions to National Geographic and to Better Homes & Gardens.
These two publications have more in common than you might think, as they both show you possibilities. They are little peeks into how other people live their lives. Sure, one featured lifestyles that were foreign and exotic, and the other showcased idealized versions of domestic American bliss, but they both succeeded in sparking my imagination, and each greatly shaped my aesthetic sensibilities as a photographer.
I think what resulted is an unlikely amalgamation of the two styles. I wage a constant battle between candid versus staged portraits of life, but at the very core, aren't both still offering a sense of voyeuristic pleasure into the way other people live their lives? The people and lifestyles in these photographs... how strange or how similar are they to your own? Do you want what they have?
Maybe they have home decor or a yard design you'd like to incorporate into your own? Maybe a glimpse into their exotic life was all it took -- now you simply must visit that locale and experience it for yourself!
Or maybe what you are seeing is destitution, and you are in a position to help clothe and feed an underprivileged population? So much of the photography I remember seeing as a kid in National Geographic was of wildly undeveloped and impoverished civilizations, or animal species that desperately needed our help.
Conversely, Better Homes mostly showcased how the other, wealthier, "better" half lived; these people didn't need our help, these photographs were intended to help us lead prettier lives.
And yet, these two disparate publications did speak to each other if you were willing to pay close attention to the details in the photographs. Albeit tangential, patterns would begin to emerge. I'd see the textile designs and handicrafts of a certain tribe show up a year later as accent pieces in a home decor photoshoot. Cultural heritage items of a village ravished by war or famine were suddenly objets d'art in a featured living room. In tandem, this unlikely dialogue between the two magazines became my education about the tell-tale design elements that are indicative of different cultures around the world.
Later, as an adult, I found myself still under this strange, conflicted spell: I wanted to buy the exotic wares of indigenous peoples to enjoy in my home; I wanted to feed their hungry children and save their endangered animals; I wanted to experience their foreign worlds and understand their lifestyles. In short, I did -- and still do -- want to visit and learn as much about all the cultures of the world as humanly possible.
I want to then share my knowledge and photographs with a new generation of travelers, designers, and artists, or anyone simply curious about the possibilities that exist both outside of, and within, our very own backyards.
Like it Down and Dirty? Try This Bio!
I truly believe in the old adage that sometimes there's no better camera than the one you happen to have with you, and I have probably shot with every type of camera imaginable; but these days, I mostly shoot on a mirrorless Canon and edit in Adobe Lightroom and (sparingly) in Photoshop. I know some photography purists hate on Photoshop -- saying it’s not natural -- but I do wonder how many pure, all-natural, dog turds they have to pick up by hand each day on "set," like I do, before they can begin shooting?
Ya miss one. Ya always miss one.
Prefer a Third Person Bio? No Problem! Ryan's On It!
Ryan is a Landscape Photographer in every sense of the word. He travels the world, and the metroplex, photographing lifestyles and landscapes both large and small. From the wilds of Africa to the unexplored possibilities of our own backyards, he finds beauty and inspiration in all that Mother Nature has to offer. Ryan combines his bachelor’s degree in Cinema/Television from SMU and his Graduate Studies at USC, with a lifelong education in horticulture from his family’s homegrown nursery and landscaping business in Rowlett, Texas.
Some Places I Have Feelings About
- Cape Town
- Chiang Mai
- The Himalayas
- Machu Picchu
- Mae Taeng
- Mont Blanc
- Mount Everest
- The Sahara Desert
- Ten Sleep
- Vatican City
- Vestmannaeyjar Island
- The Wadi Rum Desert