Research scientist and photographer, Brandt Ryder, is driven by a love for the creative process and the desire to inspire others in terms of protecting and appreciating our earth's nature. We had the opportunity to interview him below about his transformative experience through his lens of life.
Hi Brandt! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your work? When did your interest and career in landscape/nightscape photography begin to flourish?
I have always been a dreamer. Someone who believed that anything was possible with imagination, determination, and planning. Picking up a camera in 2017 was a transformative experience. I had been in a slump professionally, unhappy with my career trajectory as a scientist. Photography provided the perfect outlet for the analytical left side of my brain- it was a repeatable process with which I could experiment and continually learn through trial and error. Yet as my skill evolved, I began to see this unique dimensionality, this possibility that photography could fill a void in the right side of my brain. I had always had a desire to create but I had never truly created. Photography opened a whole new part of myself. It allowed me to transcend the lateralization of my brain and create balance. As I learn and grow I am always seeking new challenges, always aiming to take my photography to the next level. I have always done this with a singular goal- to produce images that tell compelling stories, inspire people, and create a lasting emotional impact.
Your goal is inspiring to say the least! Can you tell us a story about one of your favorite portraits you’ve taken thus far in your career? What about the work resonated with you most?
To be completely honest, portraits terrify me. Capturing raw emotion is so much more challenging than my normal work with landscapes and nightscapes. That said my favorite portraits are those candid shots I have taken of my 6 year old daughter.
What tools, lens and software do you use? How long does it take you to craft a piece? Do you usually start with a clear vision/goal, or does a piece take shape as you work?
I’m a Sony Alpha shooter and use an A7iii paired with mostly wide angle lenses. My three most used lenses are my 16-35mm 14mm and the 24mm I shot this photo with. Ironically capturing exposures in the field tends to be the easy part. Its once you get home behind the computer that the real work begins. Most of post-processing is done in photoshop and I normally spend 4-8 hours editing a photo. Sands of time I edited twice for nearly 12 hours invested. Although I sometimes have a vision I normally let the creative editing process unfold and shape the image.
How did you find your way into NFTs and crypto? What do you see as the next opportunities for creatives such as yourself in the NFT space?
NFTs are a natural extension of physical art sales. Everything is digital in our lives and it seems only natural that our art should live on the blockchain in that form. I’m still VERY new to the NFT space and really just trying to make a name for myself based on the value of art. I believe that web 3.0 will be the future for artists like myself assuming people are willing to invest in what I have to offer.
We're excited to have you join the NFT space with “Sands of Time” on Portion. Can you please speak on the significance of this piece? What was the creative process like and what was it about this portrait that made it the right fit for Portion’s Photography collection?
Great Sand Dunes is a magical place and one of my favorite places in all of Colorado. From the moment I stepped into the sand the first time I knew I would be drawn back to this place often. This shot was taken early in the Spring when the Milky Way rises early in the morning. I drove most of the night and began hiking up the tallest dune in North America looking for textures to frame the Sangre De Cristo Mountains and the galaxy. When I found this area where the sand had partially frozen and then been naturally eroded by the wind, a hoodoo of sorts, I knew I had something special. I chose it for the portion collection because of its singularity. There isn't nor will there ever be another photograph like this one.
The beauty from the Great Sand Dunes was captured perfectly! As an experienced photographer and Milky Way Photographer of the Year in 2021, do you have any tips and advice for those new to the field?
Practice, practice, and then practice some more. Hone your field techniques, learn to use key tools of the trade that can improve your images (tracking and stacking), and find novel compositions. Those are big things and they take time. Be patient with yourself. Once you have mastered the field technique refine your editing skills and NEVER stop learning and growing as an artist. There is always more to learn.
Lastly, in correlation to our photography collection, what is identity? How do appearances, beliefs, and expressions influence our perceptions of the world?
I refuse to be defined by external identity, by what others believe or by how others perceive me and my work. As I started out, I’m a dreamer and I believe we can be whoever and have whatever identity we choose if we manifest it. It is when we let the world define us that we are truly lost.