DPP Home Profiles Ryan Schude: A Novel In Every Frame

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ryan Schude: A Novel In Every Frame

As his career takes off, Ryan Schude exemplifies the youth movement in photography as a visual storyteller using all of the digital tools at his disposal


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If you want to get rich and famous as a photographer, you’d better get started, ASAP. That’s the do-it-yourself mentality that Ryan Schude put into practice in order to kick-start his young career. Next thing you know, he has a portfolio full of quirkily complex photographic tableaus, and he takes home a fine-art prize in DPP’s 2007 Emerging Pro competition. Sounds like the start of a success story.


If most pictures are worth a thousand words, the portfolio of photographer Ryan Schude is worth a library. Each image is meticulously planned and stylistically executed, combining wit, mood and humor into visually complex stories. Schude is only in his late 20s, skipping from a business major to art school to auspicious beginnings as a pro shooter. His impressive portfolio was built quickly and at little cost, thanks to a year and a half spent working for a rental house. At so young an age, he also boasts a variety of awards and exhibitions, including DPP’s own selection as an Emerging Pro in 2007 (published in the March/April 2008 issue). It looks like we were on the mark with this one.
Schude was a fresh-faced business- school graduate when it hit him: He didn’t want to wear a suit and tie and work in the corporate world. So he figured out a way to do what makes him happy.

“Photography saved me from the cubicle,” he says. “I realized I must have been nuts to keep suppressing what I really wanted to do.”

What he really wanted to do was take pictures. So he tried art school for a year (since his previous photography experience was, naturally, self-taught) before setting out on his own. He worked for four years shooting action and documentary images for editorial uses. He was the photo editor at a small San Diego publication, and when it failed he needed to completely start over in order to learn how the rest of the photo world worked. That’s when his big break came—but he didn’t realize it at the time.

“I spent the next year and a half working as a clerk in a rental house,” Schude explains, “using my privileges to take out ridiculous amounts of gear and building a whole new portfolio of personal work.”

From business school, Schude transitioned to taking pictures, and from there he turned to making them. An equally giant transformation, it may seem, from documentary photographer to one who constructs worlds of fiction, but Schude insists that the two processes aren’t very different at all. In fact, he says, both kinds of photography are all about telling stories.

“There’s a growing separation between photographers who represent worlds versus those who create them,” Schude says, “but there doesn’t seem to be a reason for this. As soon as you take a picture, you no longer have the reality—just an image. It doesn’t matter to the viewer whether what they see in a photo ever actually happened because they’re seeing a 2-D representation of it and the reality is gone. The effect of the photographer on his or her subject is just as present in Soth’s work as it is in Crewdson’s. At the end of the day, the image communicates by itself, and the photographer’s effect on it becomes irrelevant.”

 
From business school, Schude transitioned to taking pictures, and from there he turned to making them. An equally giant transformation, it may seem, from documentary photographer to one who constructs worlds of fiction, but Schude insists that the two processes aren’t very different at all. In fact, he says, both kinds of photography are all about telling stories.
 


 

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