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Meet Ryan Jerome

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

Ryan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Singapore and raised in Zurich, Switzerland to a sweet family who had nothing to do with any creative profession. I finished my degree in F+F Schule fur Kunst in Zurich. Before that here is my story. My photography career was an accident which I never imagined myself getting into. In my younger days, I was doing some modeling on the side for extra cash while I was studying my degree and masters in Graphic design. I had a group of creative friends in school who were pursuing film, fashion & photography. One fine day my colleague who was a photography student came out to me to do a shoot and mentioned to bring extra clothes for it. Thinking I was going to be the model, brought a bunch of clothes to the studio. The unexpected twist happened here when she came out to me asking what she should wear and gave me her camera teaching me how to operate it. Till then, I realized I was supposed to be styling and taking her photos. I quickly jumped into action and we did some interesting fashion shoots. My interest grew larger and larger into the world of photography and I wanted to jump onto the photographer’s seat instead of being the model.

In Zurich, the fashion scene was limited and I really was inspired by fashion. To be a proper fashion photographer, I had to be in the major cities like Milan, Paris, London or NYC to be proficient or taken seriously. While I was in school, I moved partially to Milan, Italy. I had some moral support from good friends like Andreas Brun who believed in me and was giving me great advice to get by with both my photography career and school. I got in touch with couple of model agencies to start shooting upcoming models for their book. Not knowing the direction of the business and how to get about I was just randomly clicking images of these models. Getting some advice from local artists who are in the same boat as me as struggling artists, they mentioned to get serious jobs, photographers need an agent. I sent out an email to lots of agencies in Milan and only one agreed to meet me in real.

During that period, we had to manually print portfolio images and have them in nice binders to present it to clients. Being half nervous and excited, I met with a senior agent of this agency. She went through my images in a swift and looked at me and said “Do you want me to be real or not?” Obviously, I said please be as real as you can be. She mentioned if you want to be a serious photographer you will dump this portfolio right here now. Given the shock, I was confused and could not believe this was happening. Given the hierarchy at the moment, I just dumped my portfolio right there which was the biggest step of my career as a fashion photographer. It took me a moment to understand why that scenario happened and came in terms with it, fired with determination. I started from scratch, practicing and practicing as much as I can to develop a style and technique which identifies me as an artist.

Rejections after rejections my career was like a floating mattress which did not move anywhere. Sometimes I wanted to quit so bad and just go back to being a good graphic design student but something in me keeps telling me to keep doing this no matter what or how hard it gets. I was doing more research, made more connections over the years to get my foot in the industry, I was googling magazines in Milan and found an independent fashion magazine called Out of The Box Italy which was around March 2010 and wrote to Ghya, editor of chief on Facebook. We exchanged email conversation after days she gave me my first opportunity to shoot the spring cover. At that moment, I felt overjoyed and grateful that this was my first step into the industry. My first cover shoot was a Spring cover shoot in the middle of Winter and we scouted an abandoned factory in the outskirts of Milan. We had a car filled with model, make up artist and my editor in chief and myself with equipment all cramped in ready to shoot. It was -2 degrees that day and at some point, it was on and off raining. We started with the first look outdoors that did not go as planned my hands were freezing and the model could not even focus for a shot as she was freezing too and said she can’t do this, My editor in chief immediately stepped in and looked for alternative location.

Once we got there we went straight to work and tried to pull this off together, at this situation models pissed everyone got a panic shock and all my creative process in my head has been messed and I kept telling myself my first opportunity and I am going blow it. It was not one of the shoots I am proud of to be honest, we had to somehow use the images for the cover but my editor in chief Ghya, she never gave up on me and said let’s do the next ones. That trust gave me an extra push of confidence and hope. I went straight for another two years producing fresh covers while finding a style which created my identity and was promoted to fashion editor of the magazine. This gave me creative control and exposure to other magazines, talent. I started working for cosmopolitan Italy with my great friend Ylenia Puglia who always had my back and we created some amazing fashion editorial. Meantime I was getting jobs for clients and brands to shoot their collections especially Au Jour Le Jour an Italian streetwear, luxury brand who loved my style and kept hiring me consistently. During this time, I was finishing my degree in Graphic Designing. Things were looking into a great start where I started working for Hearst company where I started working for Elle, Marie Claire, Esquire to name some.

Also some independent magazines which expanded my creative process. Due to the exposure, I was invited to many well-known runway shows in Milan, Paris, Berlin to name some to attend the show and write about it. This expanded my horizon of fashion and I started working in these countries. I realized every place has its unique style, my pictures I created in Paris compared to Milan is completely different, I can’t say which I liked most but I enjoyed seeing the shift of beauty when producing them. Being in Fashion over six years made me questioned what is more to photography especially shooting models over the years, I wanted to push my subjects even further. I needed fresh perspective and another hard struggle in my life. During this time, I was working with an independent magazine Glamoholic where I was shooting fashion editorials for them. Their main focus was celebrity and only celebrity on the cover. Editor in Chief Bashar who is operating from Israel saw potential in my work gave me an opportunity to work with my first celebrity in London. I was pretty excited to do this but also nervous as it was something new. I am not shooting 6 ft models, I am shooting someone with a personality and needed to capture their essence. Planned my shoot in London, went onset and met some interesting other creative artist who made me feel at ease as they have done this before. I met the publicist and talent, her name is Stephanie Leonidas a gorgeous actress and the lead actress of Defiance, tv show. She was super down to earth and very easy to work with, I was trying to understand how it works with talents and publicist. I had to tone down on the fashion aspect and get the commercial part activated.

This got me very intrigued and I wanted to shoot more celebrities and I came to LA for test run for few months trying to do spec shoots with actors and actresses and couple of editorials for magazines with them. First impression of LA, everything seems dreamy, perfect and friendly. I was literally believing everyone’s story of how great their life was. Did couple of shoots enjoyed my time here and got back to Switzerland again. My heart was always calling me back to LA as I have tasted Hollywood and lifestyle. I came back for a second trial stayed here for three months, it intrigued me more and more and got me more curious. I wanted to stay here longer and wanted to work with more celebrities, I managed after a year to get all my documents settled and moved here to LALA land. Once I moved here, I realized it was not all as great as it looks. Everything cost money and a lot of money, I had to start using my savings and try to kick start a career, I had to learn to filter nonsense and start focusing on my journey here. I started working with producing celebrity covers for magazine I mentioned before and was continuing my fashion work here too. I had the support of my producer Erick Stryker who was handling the behind the scenes, video, etc. and taught be all the loops in the industry which made it possible to understand LA.

I was later hired exclusively as a creative director for another independent magazine named INLOVE and I started running it from scratch. I started styling and producing shoots and worked with multiple celebrities and creative talents. It was exhausting producing and styling and photographing 6-7 shoots per issue but again, I loved the challenge. Some shoots were better than the other but I was always trying to create something new and fresh, keeping up with the styles and liking of the fashion industry. After two years, I was grateful for the experience and it was time to part with a new challenge, given the new learned knowledge of how to run a magazine to styling and working with celebrities, I am looking forward to what comes next. My advice to all artists out there; Never compare yourself to anyone and always look forward, eventually we will get there but not sure when but if you believe in it, It will HAPPEN!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My struggles happened every time I wanted to challenge myself and change my environment. Trying to adapt and make the connections and consistently believing in yourself are some struggles which needed solutions and fast.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Ryan Jerome Photography – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I specialize now in Creative Direction, Photography, Styling and I run a boutique Pr and production firm named Eggy Pr and Eggy Production. They were named after my 7 pounds chihuahua Eggy. What sets me apart from others is my journey. Everyone’s journey is different, some get there faster some get there in a slower pace, My journey makes me unique and I am one of a kind.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Due to this coronavirus, like everyone’s life, it has been on hold. I am going to continue working on my set of skills and myself, maintaining a safe distance of course. Having a healthy body and mind helps with my challenges yet to come. It is my defense mechanism I guess. I am hoping for change big or small but not knowing what is to come makes it more interesting.

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