Location: San Francisco, CA
The son of a commercial photographer and film director, Ryan Heffernan honed his photo-journalistic skills at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Heffernan now specializes in travel, portrait and reportage photography, working with a wide range of editorial, design and corporate clients. His photography has been featured in such well-known magazines as National Geographic, GQ, Time, Runner’s World Magazine and Backpacker Magazine. He has also worked extensively with Outside Magazine, shooting a number of their Buyer’s Guides and travel feature assignments.
Bates College in Maine. I graduated in 2005. My photographic education was a mixture of having a father who works as a commercial still-life photographer, shooting personal projects within the arts program at Bates, working for the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops after college and later working as a freelance assistant for a number of great shooters.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned either from a teacher or mentor?
“Always be shooting” was the mantra with all my instructors during my time working at the Santa Fe Workshops. It has been a valuable reminder to just go out and enjoy making pictures, even when you may be feeling overwhelmed with other aspects of the business.
What was your first photography job?
After a number of portfolio reviews at Outside magazine, I was assigned to shoot a portrait of their editor in chief, Chris Keyes. We had a great shoot in the mountains of Santa Fe, N.M., and that opportunity marked the beginning of a wonderful relationship with Outside>.
What advice would you give to a photographer who is still in school?
Use this time to shoot everything that’s of interest. As you hone those interests, utilize all your resources. Seek out mentors to get constructive feedback that will help your body of work continue to grow.
What inspires you about photography?
It trains me to pay attention and be present in the world around us. This act of seeing makes me appreciate beauty; it’s a cheap date in that sense.
What makes you go out and shoot?
I love the challenge of trying to make graphic sense of the world. It’s always an adventure.
What do you like best about the whole process?
Hands down, shooting.
What kind of camera equipment do you use?
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Leica M6, Hasselblad 503cm, Sinar p2 4×5 with Phase One digital backs, Elinchrom Ranger strobes, Canon Speedlites.
What do you think it takes to be successful in today’s challenging and competitive marketplace?
Relationships and persistence. You need to be firing on all cylinders in terms of making new work, marketing, networking and continuing to grow as an artist.
To see more of Ryan Heffernan’s work, go to www.ryanheffernan.com.