Cymru Culture

Articles / Erthyglau

Ryan Bater interview

(June 01, 2011)

Interview with Ryan Bater


In Cymru Culture's last edition we had the pleasure if featuring some of the work of photographer Ryan Bater. In this edition we feature an in-depth interview with this talented artist, together with images from his body of work entitled, 'Road Kill'.




CC ... When did your interest in photography start?

RB ... My interest in photography began when I was 16. I fell in love with photographing the beauty of specific things that I found interesting, mainly landscape photography. Then I arranged to photograph a female model, of the same age at the time. I really enjoyed the direction of how everything worked, and suddenly became hooked on the genre of fashion photography.

CC ... Black and white photography seems to be a particular favourite of yours. Is that a recent, um, development?

RB ... I've been taking a big interest in black and white photography lately. It really boosts, adds, to the mood and atmosphere. Making it look very raw, in a sense. That’s what I really love about it; if done correctly of course! I love the emotion you can pull off whilst using black and white (or monochrome) and, hopefully, I will be using it in my work a lot more in the future.




CC ... Have you studied photography formally, or are you self-taught?

RB ... I am indeed, 100% self-taught. I’ve been teaching, experimenting, and practicing for just over a year now. It’s very hard, though. Nothing is easy to start with, but you feel a lot better by teaching yourself, and I feel being self-taught allows you to learn, experiment and practice within your own time scale. It allows you to discover what your photographic equipment can do - from basic levels, to the more advanced. Instead of learning the theory behind it from a teacher, you learn by experimentation, through your own investigation, your own personal way of learning, and teaching yourself. I believe that’s the best way to succeed. Realizing if you have a talent within the photographic industry, or not, as it is a very tough industry to break into, and I’ve learnt that.


CC ... Do you have a favourite established photographer, who influences you and your work?

RB ... Many photographers have influenced and inspired me during the past year. The photographer I draw my inspiration from at the moment is Kesler Tran . He has such beautiful work, conveying a high level of emotion. His portfolio shows how confident he is, from  directing to photographing his models, and his team.


CC ... Would you like to have taken a photograph of a particular celebrity, or moment in history? If so, why?

RB ... Out of anything, I would of love to have shot the series of Lara Stone, in Oceans Blue in a Vogue editorial back in June 2009. I’m not entirely sure why, but there is something about that shoot that really draws my eye, I especially love the model, but I’m very sure any photographer dreams of photographing her!




CC ... You work extensively with models. What characteristics do you look for most in a model?

RB ... I personally look for unusual models. Something different, and a model that isn’t stereotypically pretty to the general public’s eye. Although I do love working with pretty faces too! I work with all races, and all kinds of models, and personally want a more diverse portfolio with the models I work with, too! I am planning to start photographing male models later this year.

CC ... What plans do you have for your work in the next couple of years? Do you have any exhibitions or collaborations planned for the future?

RB ... You can expect to see me carrying on working as hard as I possibly can, and being more involved within the fashion industry as a whole. I will be collaborating with a variety of magazines from around the world in the next few months, being published a lot more frequently. Topshop is supplying their new clothing line to a shoot I have very soon, which is also very exciting! I am working to the hardest to my abilities within college, hoping to succeed with a very good number of qualifications. In many years time I expect you to see a large, recognized portfolio of work from me.

I’ve recently taught myself how to sew, knit, and make clothing. It’s seriously interesting to me, why I’ve considered learning these things since taking up fashion photography. It’s even more interesting wondering which direction I'll decide to take; to be both a photographer and a designer would be quite something!

I’m currently exhibited in Swansea Grand Theatre. Photographs of a documentary I did of Port Talbot in late 2010 are on display there, alongside a book I created, which was extremely interesting to do. You can view the documentary on my website, if interested!




CC ... Your landscape images are especially evocative. Is it instinctive to you, when to take a picture in these settings?

RB ... I’m very drawn to landscape photography. I believe it is instinctive to me, yes. I love composing an image, and applying my own taste and style to a photograph of a landscape. I feel landscape photography is beautiful, if done correctly. It’s more of a hobby than anything to me; although I’m hoping to sell my landscape photographs very soon through a photo agent I recently signed a contract with, which is also very exciting!


CC ... You've worked with a friend of Cymru Culture, Kelly Goss, on her 'Rock 'n' Needle' look-book. Seems that Wales has a wealth of artistic talent, doesn't it?

RB ... I worked with Kelly on 'Rock ‘n’ Needle' when I was first starting out in fashion photography, when I was 16 years of age. Overall, the collaborations we had worked very well and we created some positive results from both shoots. She published the photographs in various magazines around the UK, which was also very helpful for me starting out. She has beautiful clothing, and perhaps one day, in the near future, we will have the opportunity to work with each other again.




CC ... What advice would you give to someone interested in photography?

RB ... I would advise aspiring photographers to practice, and to experiment within different genres of photography. Unless, of course, you know which particular genre interests you most. The more you open yourself up to doing and trying, the more diverse you are as a whole. The three key things to do are: practice; experiment; and, if you have internet access, I’d advise you to network! It’s seriously one of the best things you could possibly do in this day and age. And if you want to get into fashion photography, it is one of the key points! Contacts, who you know, is the most important thing within the photographic industry. So I’d advise you to do work experience with more advanced, professional photographers, and to submit your work to many publications, and work your way up into the industry!


CC ... Is expensive equipment needed to take a good photograph?

RB ... Not at all. It’s all about the lighting; the composition; and the subject. Quality and gear comes second. As long as you cover those three important elements, everything else will fall into place. Start by using equipment you can afford. Try not to use the camera flash, by only using natural lighting. Buy a reflector, which are very cheap (if portraiture/fashion is an interest), and you will be able to get fantastic results every time you do a 'shoot'!

Get to know your existing equipment, and don’t purchase any more until you’ve got the best use out of it. So, overall, cost isn’t the case. You just need good visualisation as a photographer, and it’s more about the photographer than the equipment all in all, than anything else. The best of equipment doesn’t necessarily mean the best of pictures. That isn’t true at all.


CC ... Ryan Bater, thank you.



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