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Meet Ryan Clemens

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Clemens.

Ryan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
From a young age, I’ve always been fascinated with capturing images. On family vacations, I would constantly hold onto my mother’s phone to take photos of everything that we saw. I was obsessed with never letting a memory escape from my grasp as thousands of images filled the phone’s gallery. In high school, I took my first photography class and immediately fell in love with the art. Originally learning with an analog camera, I quickly understood the slow and diligent process of photography. I strived to carry this over to my digital photography work as well. Not long after, I attended my first video production class and was immersed into the world of motion pictures –– a medium that I felt took my world of photography into another dimension.

I attended the University of Iowa my freshman year of college where I met several key photography mentors. They introduced me into the world of fine art photography as a way of creating deliberate emotion. I began working on independent photography work ranging from fine art series to editorial portrait shoots. At the end of my freshman year, I transferred to Chapman University in order to pursue both cinematography and photography. At Chapman, I am grateful to have met such influential professors and students that have helped shape me. As I finish up my senior year, I look back on these past couple of years being an incredible time of growth where I have discovered who I am as an artist and storyteller.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As much as I would like to say it’s been a smooth road, there have been a fair share of obstacles throughout my journey. However, in an interesting way, I am grateful for these bumps just as much as I am of the smooth path. Many of my struggles unearthed my passions and allowed me to discover my personal outlook and values. I’ve always found that art has been my sanctuary, somewhere I can turn to no matter what is going on in life. During my parent’s divorce in high school, I turned to telling stories with my art in order to escape the troubles at home.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a freelance cinematographer and photographer. I am most proud of the relationships I have gained through my experiences in the film and photo industry. They are both such collaborative fields. As a photographer, I am specialized in capturing and portraying emotion through portraiture. I aim to transmit emotion through my art and create thought-provoking work that the viewer is unable to ignore. For example, during my time at the University of Iowa, I began a photo series titled “Women of Influence” where I photographed women (mentors, family members, friends) that had a direct impact on my life. I chose to bring the viewer into our relationship by photographing them in places where we spent time together.

As a cinematographer, I pride myself in being able to elevate the story at hand through motion, lighting, and framing. This past year I had the honor of working on a film with one of my closest friends about the world of drag. The story follows a young vibrant performer desperately seeking to find her community within the world of drag. I love working on narrative films that tell underrepresented intimate stories. Even though photography and cinematography are seen as being within such different industries, I use them similarly. Whether it’s telling a story or conveying a specific emotion, photography and cinematography act hand in hand. I only use one or the other depending on the given situation.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I personally define success as being truly happy in what I create, my day-to-day work, and my personal life. Having a good standing in all of these areas points me to a successful life.

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Ryan Clemens

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