This week’s featured photographer is Kristen Ryan. Kristen is a landscape photographer from Chicago. We love her creative compositions and her use of color. All of her images leave us longing to visit the places she has. Her work is nothing short of inspirational, you can find her on IG here – https://www.instagram.com/kristenryanphotography/
You can find her landscape course here – https://www.clickphotoschool.com/the-world-around-you/
What are you shooting with? Camera, phone…both?: Camera! While I grab my phone for quick snapshots, I shoot with my Nikon D850 the majority of the time. I have a D810 as a backup.
Favorite Lens? My favorite lens is the one that best captures the scene in front of me. My Nikon 16-35mm is my favorite for capturing wide landscape scenes and dramatic skies. I love this lens for shooting long exposures of clouds and seascapes. My Sigma 14mm and Nikon 14-24mm are my favorites for astrophotography. My Nikon 24-70mm and 70-200mm are also always at hand for the scenes that need more reach and when the highlight of the scene is in the details. For the really far off scenes or wildlife, I also love my Sigma 150-600.
How did you get started in photography? I have enjoyed photography since I was young, but it was when my twins (now 8 1/2) were babies that I really began learning to control the camera. In the beginning it was all about capturing my 4 kids, ages 1-6 at the time, but within a couple years my passion for landscape photography developed.
This led to teaching The World Around You for Click Photo School and my ladies’ landscape photography retreats in the Tetons, Banff and Chicago.
What is your favorite image you have taken and why? (include this in your images, label it favorite) Excluding images of my kids, I have two images that are my favorites because of their meaning. The first one is an image I title “Golden Meadow”. It was shot in September 2012, about 9 months into my photography learning when I was out in Jackson Hole for a fall weekend with my mom. The Snake River behind my grandparents home had become too high to cross but the water was low in the fall of 2012. My mom and I were able to cross the river and hike back to the main channel of the Snake, just as my grandfather had done countless days of his life to fly fish. We noticed a storm coming in, so we started the hike back and as I turned around for a final look at the mountains, I saw this scene where the sun was shining through the trees and lighting up the golden grasses. It was magical and I will never forget that day we were able to explore that part of my grandparents land.
The second one is the Milky Way over my grandparents home. This was captured in July 2016, the last summer my family stayed at the house before it was sold. We had a campfire that night and after the kids went to bed, my husband and I sat drinking wine and looking up at the dark sky. I got my camera when I saw the Milky Way shining above. This image epitomizes how I felt about this home. The Milky Way represents the awe I feel about the nature and beauty I experience while in the Tetons and the warmth of the lights in the house represents home and serenity.
What is your favorite photography subject? Nature is my favorite subject. I love to photograph beautiful scenery mixed with dramatic skies and dynamic light. I love to mix my kids into a beautiful landscape as well, but I am most happy capturing the moving clouds and changing light over the mountains, ocean, or both!
What is your favorite trip that you have taken? I do not have ONE favorite trip but my trips to the Tetons are my favorite. My grandparents lived there every summer since before I was born and my heart is in those mountains. I remember trips there as a kid, as a twenty something with my husband when we camped and hiked all the backcountry trails, and with my kids until the house sold a few years back. Recent years have brought me out there leading ladies’ landscape photography retreats and each has been incredible in its own way.
What is the most photogenic place you have been?
This is a tough question. The Tetons have my heart and are my favorite place to photograph. But Moraine Lake in Banff may just be the most photogenic spot I have been. Those blue waters with the peaks rising up from the water are just jaw dropping!
If money were no object where would you travel to and why? New Zealand because it has the ultimate combination of mountains and ocean and I wonder if I would ever leave once I got there! Norway, Iceland and Torres del Paine are especially high on my list as well.
What is your travel itinerary for the next year? For 2019, I leave on the 23rd of September for the second Magic in the Tetons Retreat of 2019 and I travel to Banff in November for the first Enchantment in the Rockies Retreat, which I will host with Gina Yeo. I will be traveling to the Tetons twice in 2020 for the June & September Magic in the Tetons Retreats. Still working on other plans but a family trip to Italy is in the works as well as a couple other retreats.
Share a tip here (photography, photo editing, blogging, social media or travel-related) Capture what speaks to YOU. In any scene you are capturing, there is something or some number of things that are drawing you to that scene. Perhaps it is the overwhelmingly wide expanse of the land, the way the light is hitting the trees, the curve of a wave, or the formation of the clouds at the tip of a mountain. Hone in on the beauty that is speaking to you and use your tools to capture the scene in a way that highlights those details. Listen to your inner voice and follow it. Always shoot for yourself, to satisfy your own inner artistic voice.
When you are not traveling, what can we find you doing? When I’m not traveling, I’m home with my husband and 4 kids. Spending time with them and driving the kids to all of their activities takes most of my time. Photography wise, I spend my non travel time editing and teaching. I love to get outside, run, cook, read and spend time with friends.
Tell me something random about you – Prior to kids and photography, I was a freelance harpist. I played the harp for tea at the Drake Hotel in Chicago for 4 years, taught private lessons and played for weddings and other private events.
Do you have any photography or travel goals? I have many places I’d love to go photograph as life allows. I am always looking to learn more to improve my shooting and editing both for my own work and to add value to my students as a teacher.
Any special projects you are working on (photography or otherwise)? Two years ago I hosted my first ladies landscape photography retreat, Magic in the Tetons. This was a labor of love a few years in the making. This September I will host my 4th Magic in the Tetons retreat and 5th ladies retreat overall. Creating this opportunity for women to come together to feed their creative souls and connect with like minded women is my passion project and I look forward to expanding these retreats. This year I added Chicago and Banff and hope to add other locations in the future.
Favorite travel or photography accessory? My favorite photography accessories are my filters. My Neutral Density filters are essential to my work as I use them all the time for creative exposures of water and clouds or even vertical panning of trees. I have 6 stop, 10 stop, and 15 stop ND filters that I always have in my bag at home or traveling. My favorite filters are Breakthrough Photography filters. https://breakthrough.
If you were shipwrecked on an island but had all your human needs (food, water, clothing) what two items would you take with you? Assuming it is required I am there alone, my camera and my tripod. If I was on an island I have no doubt there would be gorgeous scenery and night skies to capture!
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Kristen Ryan is a fine art landscape and nature photographer and educator from outside Chicago. Inspired by changing light and dramatic skies, she loves to travel with her Nikon D850 close at hand. Day to night she captures the beauty of the world as she sees it through her lens. She’s best known for her love of Grand Teton National Park and the Ladies Retreat she hosts there. Kristen offers fine art prints, online and in-person education, including Ladies’ Landscape Photography Retreats.