Contender: Ryan Brown

Photographer: Ryan Brown

In 2003, I graduated college with a Bachelor of Science in Photography with a Minor in Business Administration. I have been a portrait photographer ever since graduation. In 2005, I opened a portrait and wedding studio in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. Since 2005, I have spent time photographing and traveling while always working on special projects. I addition to my BS in Photography, I also hold certifications as Certified Professional Photographer, Master of Photography, Master Artist, and Photographic Craftsmen.

Story behind the shot: I am always working on special projects. This image was created as part of a special project that I call "Character Portraits." These images are all black-and-white environmental portrait images that are meant to tell the story of real people through their environment and their eyes. In January 2014, I stopped in Hackberry Arizona while driving from Las Vegas to Phoenix. When I walked into this old west-looking shop, I was drawn to the look of the owner. He had such a real look of the old west meets Route 66 Americana about himself that he needed to be a part of this project. I loved not only the fact that he was the focus, but also that the western eclectic background helped enhance the feel of the portrait.

Favorite moment during the shoot: I always feel that part of this project is connecting with the subject without the camera. Talking to the person being photographed and hearing their story is the best part of creating a meaningful image.

Biggest challenge: The biggest challenge was the lighting. The lighting is all ambient and coming from the right side of the image. This kept the bulk of his face in shadow. The shadows were brought out through editing the camera raw file. The other big challenge was keeping his attention while customers were coming through!

How do you define your style? I define my style as classic, elegant and real. It is important to me that the image stands on its own. I don’t believe in digital manipulation. I believe in creating a real image in the camera and using Photoshop as a refinement tool, not a creation tool. My idols are the greats such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliott Erwitt.

Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 lens, ambient light.
Twitter: @rtbphoto

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