Photographer and designer Ryan Szepan loves blurring the line between portrait photography and visual storytelling by creating pieces that contain a balance of emotion, grit and inspiration.
“My Wacom tablet allows me to easily build layers of contrast to give my images that extra pop, just as if I were drawing on a sketchpad with a pencil,” Ryan says. “Having the ability to quickly change brush sizes, pressure sensitivity and zoom has made me work more efficiently and puts me in total control of my workflow.”
Ever since he was a kid, Ryan has always been drawn to visual art. Growing up, he drew on just about everything he could get his hands on: paper, napkins, shopping bags, sidewalks....“When I left my sketchbook and pencils behind and started my journey into the digital design world, I quickly found that I missed that feeling of artistic control that my pencil gave me. Instead, I was met with the ‘clunkiness’ and less-than-perfect precision of a mouse to create my digital composites.”
Since so much of Ryan’s work is based around subtle details and building tonal values, he had to find a different workflow that allowed him to be in better control of his work on-screen. Ryan received his first tablet as a gift from his wife three years ago and hasn’t looked back since. “The minute I gripped the Wacom pen I felt right at home, and had the ability to take back control over my medium.”
Every photographer attempts to create a story with their photos. For Ryan, storytelling relies on creating an exaggerated sense of place and emotion around his subjects. “I like to push the boundaries of my photographs, give each one a little bit of an edge to complement each person’s story,” he says.
“Much of my work is based on working with athletes who have a passion for the sport they compete in. My imagery focuses on their emotion and creating a setting for that to take place against. While many artists may not like the idea of having to photograph a subject and location separately and then composite the images together to tell a story, I embrace it. I look to keep challenging myself, to push past my comfort zone and create a different experience each time.”