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Ryan Lowry Shows Impulse and Intrigue in Two Years

Chicago-based photographer Ryan Lowry has an eye for intensity. Whether it’s capturing people and places in heightened moments or bringing out the quiet intricacies of a personality with his portraiture (like the beautiful shots he did of Nick Cave for the WILD’s ANIMAL Issue), Lowry follows his impulses with refreshing ease. In his new photo book, Two Years, images of late night connections, early morning hangovers and dangerous endeavors are presented like fragmented memories, maintaining an excitement for each moment as if it were our own.

We speak with Lowry about the intensity, infatuation and intrigue of his images, and find out some bizarre stories behind the pictures from the book.

When did you begin photographing? Do you have a first memory of using a camera?

I got a camera when I was 12 for Christmas, started photographing my friends skateboarding and took a darkroom class at a local art center. A year later I made a darkroom in my parents basement out of equipment my teacher gave me.

Most of your photographs seem to document a person or place in an impulsive moment, like the photograph would be completely different if taken a second before or after. When shooting, what influences you in the moment?

Well first off, the language used here forces me to give a shout out to Henri Cartier-Bresson. I think really my work is about experiences and moments that kind of reflect on a larger personal narrative. Which is kind of what photography is about. Well, to me?

How did you choose the work to show in your new book, Two Years?

Months and months of sequencing prints and proofs until I felt like the book read as I intended it.

Many of your pictures document an element of danger. Do you have any good stories behind some of the images in the book?

I guess I kind of feed off of those moments of intensity. I grew up completely infatuated with the punk scene and playing in punk bands so I guess that intensity finds its way into my work.

The deer image in my book as a good story. So – I was on assignment in Southern Indiana – my buddy Lyndon and I are driving on this back road and I see this baby deer hanging from a fence. So we turn the car around to see what was going on – when we walked up we could tell that it was still alive because it was following us with it’s eyes but laid completely still. So I started photographing it. It was totally surreal, like it was patiently waiting there for us – and we were meant to discover it. I was terrified of hurting it and was being a total baby – so Lyndon pulled the fence apart and it laid there still – seemed frightened of us – so I tried to hop the fence to photograph some more and it ran into the fence trying to get away – it was then we realized we should just walk away and hope it would run off…. when we looped back around it was gone.

You live in Chicago, does the city influence your work at all?

I am sure it does but in ways I am totally unaware of. When you see the same things everyday and have similar experiences day to day it works its way into everything.

Do you have a favorite place to shoot?

Earth is pretty sick.

Any upcoming projects?

Currently working through what to do next. Getting stuck all the time. Hah.

What is your WILD Wish?

Eat some lemon pepper wings with Gucci Mane on a tropical island.

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text by: Kate Messinger

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