This week’s StandardVision artist takeover on the SVLA1 screen at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles features work by photographer Ryan Staley. Staley is the latest artist to be invited to take over the two week-long recurring 15-second spot to showcase their work to the public, and her work will be on view through September 10, 2017.
We had a chance to talk with the somewhat elusive DTLA street photographer about his method, the city, and iPhones.
I’ve read that you’re an attorney by day and a photographer in your free time. When did you discover your passion for photography?
Yes, I’m a secured finance attorney in downtown LA. In 2013, my firm issued iPhones, and I suddenly had a decent camera with me at all times. Initially drawn to making colorful abstracts, things became more obsessive when I focused on shooting people in 2014. I don’t typically use an iPhone anymore, but it remains a solid Plan B.
What about DTLA compels you to photograph it?
Like I said, I work in DTLA, so accessibility is a big factor. But, more importantly, DTLA is chock-full of compelling characters and deteriorating structures that make for dramatic backgrounds.
You capture such unique perspectives of your subjects, do you talk and interact with each person when you capture their image?
There is plenty of staged work I dig a whole lot, but at this point, I’m only interested in candid captures for myself. Having said that, it’s impossible to attempt the proximity and angles I do without getting caught fairly frequently. In those instances, part of the day of shooting is calming folks down and explaining my intentions. More often than not, the subjects walk away approvingly. If not, I offer to delete the photo at issue.
In terms of perspective, I hope to manipulate context with severe angles. My photos seem to be categorized as “street”, but that isn’t my aim. While the bulk of street photographers (in my view) tend to capture special moments of “actual reality”, I hope to create a visceral and ambiguous alternate reality. If a friend reacts to a photo of mine with any iteration of “WTF”, it’s a satisfying feeling.
You can see more of Ryan’s work on his Instagram.