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Podcast Episode 31: This is David Ryan

An absolute pleasure to talk to David Ryan for the 31st episode of our This is Reportage Podcast! Based in Ireland, and with a total haul of 8 Reportage Awards and 3 Story Awards. Tune it today as David talks about:

  • why lockdown is suiting him,
  • why he classes himself as an introvert and how that works with shooting weddings,
  • the story of why he posted a specific email from a bride,
  • how honesty is core to him and his photography and marketing,
  • why he started his best of 2019 post with the words “my wedding photos are rubbish”,
  • how a single image had a huge impact on him,
  • the story of how he came to be a wedding photographer,
  • why he has turned down business in the past,
  • his favourite food,
  • why he doesn’t like fiction,
  • slow shutter shots and taking risks,
  • why teaching didn’t suit him,
  • why workshops and conferences are not for him,
  • his thoughts on black and white,
  • top tips for better documentary photography,
  • why he tapes over the logos on his cameras,
  • why he’s recently stopped following other wedding photographers,
  • what success means to him,
  • his thoughts on the wedding industry as a whole,
  • why his photographs are his marketing,
  • and much more…

Listen on Spotify, iTunes, Google Podcasts, YouTube, or below in this post with a full transcript too.

Alan Law:

Hey David, how you doing?

David Ryan:

Alan. Good evening. Thank you for calling.

Alan Law:

Thanks for being on here. It’s awesome to talk to you and hear your voice. How’s things with you?

David Ryan:

I’m very nervous. I feel like I’m in a blind date and she’s late and I’m sitting at the bar and yeah, very, very nervous. Even more nervous than before I started a wedding, so that’s pretty bad.

Alan Law:

Oh no. But I get that and I get nervous about these as well and it’s really silly isn’t it? We’re just talking, but I feel nervous. It’s a strange thing.

David Ryan:

Yeah, it’s good to admit it, I think, always. Some people don’t admit it all the time, but yeah, I’m nervous, but as we get into it, I should be okay. We’ll see how it goes anyway.

Alan Law:

Yeah, it’ll be great. Yeah. How’s things with you over there? because are you near Dublin? Do you live near Dublin?

David Ryan:

Yeah, I’m 25 miles Southwest of Dublin living pretty much in the Heartland of horse racing country, so I have three horse racing tracks within 10 miles of me that’ll tell you and surrounded by stud farms here. So it’s a, it’s the Heartland of horse racing in Ireland. This is the car race courses right beside me here. So yeah, smack bang in the middle of horse racing country.

Alan Law:

Oh, cool. Okay. Are you into your horses?

David Ryan:

I won’t ride a horse, but I know loads of people in that world and that’s sort of what got me into wedding photography in a way in that world, but that’s another story. We can touch on it as we go along. But I know a lot of people within that world. Yeah.

Alan Law:

Okay, cool. Do you know I’ve never properly been on a horse? I tried to get on a horse once when I was young and I tried to get up on it and I just fell off the other side so I’ve never tried, I’ve not tried to get back up on the horse as they say. Yeah.

David Ryan:

Yeah. I’ve seen too many bad accidents of horses, so I would never ever get up on one. But yeah, I love that world, but I won’t ride a horse, there you go.

Alan Law:

Okay. I think that’s wise. When my daughter grows up, I just want to put her off horses. I don’t want her to get into horses. This seems too dangerous. Yeah. So how’s things, what’s the Irish scene at the moment in terms of Corona and stuff? How has it been affecting you? What’s the lay of the land?

David Ryan:

Well, we’re pretty locked down here. I think we’re more locked down than you are in the UK. Our government has taken a very strong point of view here and we’re pretty locked down. I’m actually enjoying it. I’m loving it. No, but I’m also hating it too because I’m minding the kids. So Monday to Friday, nine to six, I mind the kids and that is pretty tough. But all the other stuff I quite like at the social distancing, all that sort of stuff I’m enjoying it. I’m a bit of an introvert, I am. So it sort of suits me, suits my personality. Every night when I stop finishing minding the kids, I have a bike and I go for spin, clear the head. So yeah, I’m loving it more than I’m hating it. So there you go. That’s where we are.

Alan Law:

Well that’s good. That’s good. And yeah, I’m enjoying parts of it definitely for sure as well. It’s funny you mentioned there about being an introvert. How is it at weddings then? Because there’s so many people there, you know, how do you find it? I just find it very interesting because I think I am introverted as well. I mean how do you find it?

David Ryan:

Here you are doing an interview, loads of interviews. You call yourself an introvert. I think we probably, I probably could call ourselves introverted extroverts. I like my own space. I like reading. I like doing my own thing. I like being on my own. I love my own company, but I go into a wedding and I can change. I do love people, but I also love being away from them. So a typical wedding for me, I go in I have no problems integrating with people and winning trust with people. I often end up, I suppose in weddings talking to our lads and other ones about the old days and the history and stuff like that. So yeah, I’ve no problems going into a wedding. It does not faze me, but the minute the wedding is over, I love getting back into the car on my own and having a cup of coffee on the way home and I enjoy that space. So it is weird. It’s very, very strange. I suppose it’s like a musician going up to play in front of 10,000 people and they can be introverts too and the minute they get off stage they can go back into their own personal space. So that’s what I like a little bit and I enjoy my own space. Really do.

Alan Law:

That’s cool. That’s a good analogy, I think, of a musician as well, actually. Yeah. I’m like you, I mean I enjoy getting into the car as well and having a cappuccino and then McDonald’s and the drive home. Do you have a McDonald’s and the drive home?

David Ryan:

No, no, no, no, no, no. I think you mentioned that one day, one of your podcasts. How does he eat that stuff?

Alan Law:

Oh, man it’s so good. It’s so good.

David Ryan:

What did I do on the way home? Sometimes I listen to your podcast on the way home cause I rarely get time to listen to when am I’m minding kids and stuff like that. So yeah, often on the way home from a wedding, I could listen to one of your podcasts. I’ve done a lot of them on the way home for wedding. Yeah, I do.

Alan Law:

Oh that’s cool. Good. I don’t put you to sleep then and that’s good.

David Ryan:

The only free time I get is when driving the car.

Alan Law:

That’s cool. I’m guessing with home-schooling. How old are your kids?

David Ryan:

Two under five. So there’s no home-schooling. It’s more managing. Managing the madness is what I call it. I had a mad day today with them but anyway. Part of it is my problem too. I’d probably be crap at doing the father stuff. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. So hopefully tomorrow will be a good day. It’s more of an entertainment and just managing the madness. That’s all. That’s the hardest part. It’s the hardest part of this COVID thing.

Alan Law:

Two under five is tough man as it is, you know, that’s tough.

David Ryan:

And daddy’s 50, so I started late. That might not be playing against me at the moment as well. I might be too old for all this, but we’ll see.

Alan Law:

That’s funny. Cool. I mean I’ve got to talk about there’s a quote that you put on your Facebook, your business Facebook page a while ago. It was a quote from a bride.

David Ryan:

Oh, I knew you were going to touch on this.

Alan Law:

Yeah but I have to because it’s so cool. I just want to say. It was a quote from a bride who didn’t book you and you posted it on your Facebook business page and the quote was: “so we love your style and the idea of the documentary and we wanted this for our wedding. But the more we looked at your photos, the more John started to not like the way people looked in them. He said that people look ugly, he thinks people should look beautiful on their wedding day.” Well firstly, man, that’s such a great quote. It’s also so brave posting it, I think, and just so interesting. A lot of photographers wouldn’t but yeah can you talk to us about that?

David Ryan:

Wouldn’t be brave for me to post this. I have no problems posting stuff like that. It’s one thing I always do. Maybe if you ask me how do I market myself, well I market myself in a very honest way. And that was a real email and I thought it was fantastic. The minute I saw it, I was just going to save this for a week and I posted it in a weeks’ time and I changed the names obviously, but it got great response and I wasn’t looking for a response. I don’t chase likes and that sort of stuff. But I think it shows people I’m human. I could laugh at myself – I can laugh at myself all the time – and it also proves that not everyone gets what I do and not everyone is my client. And that’s not a bad thing because if you book somebody like that, it’s not going to work out. You know that and I know that.

Alan Law:

Oh Yeah. So true. Definitely. What I find so interesting though, and I just think it’s awesome. It is honest and just a lot of photographers would want to post something like that, but they’d be so nervous and scared. I mean, yeah, have you always been like that in your marketing then? Just putting out exactly who you are? Yeah.

David Ryan:

Yeah. I’ve always been like that Alan. I wouldn’t call myself a sheep. I’ve always done my own thing since I was a kid. I would always been even in school quite vocal, even though I call myself an introvert. I would have been academic, but I would have been quite vocal as well in school and I would never be afraid to talk up for myself, never afraid to express my own opinions. And I’m never afraid to laugh at myself. And that’s why I posted. I think it’s great. I loved it. It’s gold, it’s gold. And yeah, most people would never post that. Definitely they wouldn’t.

Alan Law:

But it’s cool as well. It is laughing at yourself, but it’s also there’s an element of, you know, so a lot of people do think, look at documentary wedding photography in that people don’t always look their best, do they? But people when we’re capturing real emotions, you know, naturally people don’t look great. It’s just part of capturing the real realness of the day.

David Ryan:

Yeah, I suppose I look at my work and I hate it most of the times, but I do know that I go into a wedding and yeah, I do take, I do get where she’s coming from when she sent that email, I take loads of pictures of people smoking and stuff like that I chase down really gritty images that a wedding photographer sometimes wouldn’t ordinarily put on a blog. I’m not afraid to do that. That’s who I am. I often call myself a street photographer that shoots weddings. That’s really what I am. And I’m definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. I know that.

Alan Law:

It’s good. It’s good though, isn’t it? Not to be everyone’s cup of tea. I think that’s a good thing.

David Ryan:

Yeah, it’s just me. I like being me. I don’t want to be anyone else, Alan. I just want to be me and I’ve always wanted to be me and not in an arrogant way. That’s who I am.

Alan Law:

That’s great. It is who you are. And a lot of people aspire to that. You know, people want to be themselves, but a lot of them, people just don’t have confidence to be themselves. Really.

David Ryan:

Yeah. Yeah. I think that comes with age. I turned 50 last year, but as I said, I’ve always been like this, but I think with age I’ve really just said, I don’t care anymore. Yeah, there’s a great email, I’ll put that up on my Facebook page. And so what? You know, what’s the worst going to happen? Nothing.

Alan Law:

That’s so true. Yeah. That’s so true. And you had messages in the comments there from your past couples as well saying how amazing that you’ve captured that day and captured the real emotions of it. So yeah, it’s awesome man. Cool.

David Ryan:

Yeah, all my couples felt it was a little bit quirky anyway, so they’ll get what I was up to, they’ll smile at that and they’ll enjoy it too along with me.

Alan Law:

That’s cool. I was going to say, you mentioned just though there that you, I think you just said that you don’t like, or you hate quite a lot of your images, and you start your best of 2019 post with the phrase “my wedding photos are rubbish”. Do you really not like your photos?

David Ryan:

Yes, yes, yes, yes. I’ll tell you a funny story. I’m useless at technology and the other day on Saturday I had some time on my own and I created a new catalogue on Lightroom. Hadn’t a clue how to do it because I’m useless. And I put in all my favourite photographs, which were all sort of starred and marked and whatever from all the time I started since I started doing wedding photography. And I looked at them, I went, Oh God, they’re rubbish. I just saw them together and I just hated them. And I just said, I’ll sack this and go out the bike for a spin. I can’t look at them anymore. And yeah, I do feel like that a lot. Yeah.

Alan Law:

Even your kind of best ofs. Because I know when I’m calling a wedding, I think, oh man, I’m the worst photographer in the world. But then, you know, once I put my preset on and they’re into light room, I think it’s okay. I can kind of do. Yeah. But yeah, even like your best of images, you’re not happy with?

David Ryan:

No, not really, cause I go and then every year I look back sometimes to the best of the year before the year before. I do see that I evolve. I’m definitely evolving. I change every year and that’s a good thing in my head. I’m happy with that. But for example, say I did a wedding and I edited it, then I blogged it on my site site, I go, oh yeah, I’m happy with that. That’s grand. And two hours later I go, no, I hate that. And that’s just me. But maybe that’s what keeps me going. I do enjoy what I do. I love what I do and don’t get me wrong, but there’s a lot of low self-esteem, always questioning myself and what am I doing? And it happens during weddings too. The graph, the emotional graph is all over the place during a wedding. No one knows it, only me, just me.

Alan Law:

It seems funny me hearing, and I’ve never met you or spoke to you before, but it feels funny for me hearing you say you’re kind of questioning yourself but then on the other hand, you’re so confident in kind of who you are and your approach and everything.

David Ryan:

Oh, I did tell you earlier on I’m a bit of an oddball and I know I’m a bit of an oddball and maybe that’s why I take the pictures I take and look, I’m a very pure documentary photographer that loves what he does, a bit of an odd ball and I lack confidence. That’s me. Right.

Alan Law:

You don’t sound it though. Honestly. You don’t. That’s cool. Well, thank you for coming on and talking to me for this. I know. It’s awesome.

David Ryan:

You’re lucky to have me here, the nerves…. We’re doing okay at the moment.

Alan Law:

It’s just great. Really great, really great. So I read that to be interesting to just hear about your backstory a bit. I read that you came from an artistic family. Can you tell us a bit about the young David growing up? You know, how you got into this photography lark?

David Ryan:

Yeah, I came from an artistic family. All three siblings. We all went to Art College. Dad’s a civil engineer, which is totally different from art, but he has an artistic, he’s artistic blood within him. He’s good at art, but he nurtured that as we were growing up. So yeah, it must have been in the DNA cause all three of us went to Art College. Dad loved cameras. I was surrounded by cameras when we were kids growing up, but he still has many still cameras, Pentax super eight movie cameras every now and again. And he had loads and loads of books on photography around the house. So, you know, if you ask me, are you surprised you’re a photographer? No, I’m not. Not in the slightest. It’s no accident I’m here and doing what I’m doing and doing it the way I do it. And my love of photo journalism is no surprise to me. A little backstory. Dad had a load of books in his library. There was a whole series of books, I think Time-Life magazine or something. He bought them from them and there was about 20 in the series of all photography, I think it’s 1972 we’re going back to, and there was one book I always kept taking out of the book of 20. It was the book of photo journalism. As a child I remember opening this book continually and one picture in particular always always caught my eye and I don’t know if you’re aware of the picture, familiar with it. It’s called ‘The Despondent Divorcee’; a photograph taken at the Genesee Hotel of a lady called Mary Miller committing suicide.

Alan Law:

No, I don’t know.

David Ryan:

And it was caught by a photographer called Russel Sorgi in 1942.

Alan Law:

Wow, literally killing herself?

David Ryan:

Yeah. He was taking a walk home. He worked for the Buffalo Express. He was walking home from work, took a different route home, and he came across this commotion of this lady sitting up the top floor of a hotel and he had his camera with him and he caught her in free fall. And as a child and a very young child at that, I remember six or seven, I remember that image standing out. And that book in particular and photojournalism really caught me. And it was the only book I kept revisiting as a child. So yeah, that one photograph had a huge impact on me. But as I said, it’s no surprise I do what I do and I’m a very, very big lover of photo journalism proper, good photographs so that image had a huge impact on me.

Alan Law:

Wow. Yeah. I guess quite. That’s a strong, strong image to witness as a six, seven year old as well really.

David Ryan:

Yeah, I got it. I got it. But it’s the book in general too. The book is just fantastic. Famous photographs from famous photographers of just real stories, real images. But that one has always stood out for me. You should Google it. It’s quite an amazing image. The backstory is bizarre. The funny thing is she wasn’t a divorcee. She wasn’t married, but that’s the image is called the despondent divorcee. That’s what it’s sort of known as.

Alan Law:

Yeah. Cool. Okay, I’ll do that. So then how did you go from kind of like Art College, sorry, was it art school or Art College? Is that? Yeah. Yeah. How did you go from there to photographing weddings then?

David Ryan:

I did loads of other jobs in between. The problem was I was academic too and I sort of went through a whole sort of process of what am I going to do with my life because I always thought you couldn’t make money from art, but money never drove me. But to cut a long story short, I used to go out, I had a girlfriend, an ex-girlfriend, it must have been 10, 15 years ago. And she used to hunt, which is very controversial pursuit in the UK. And I used to follow her, she’d be out hunting and I’d be out following on foot and I used to.

Alan Law:

You must be pretty quick. Are you a pretty quick runner?

David Ryan:

Yeah, I’m fit. I’m fit. I would be very fit for an hour. And I remember I bought a, I think was it a Canon? No, no. I forgot the camera but it was even older back further. But I bought my first digital camera and I started following the hunt with the camera. And that’s when I revisited photography. I always thought about it when I was a child, but that’s when this journey, this journey in life, going into weddings started. So I did an awful lot of hunt photography and I got a lot of my work published in Horse and Hound in England and stuff like that. Very, very controversial pursuit and they don’t like cameras. They hated cameras which made it even more special for me because you were getting into a world that didn’t like cameras and there was a trust I built up with them. And I really enjoyed it. But that’s where I got my first wedding, believe it or not.

Alan Law:

Oh okay, cool. Someone from the hunt, yeah,

David Ryan:

Yeah, guy came up to me on horseback in the middle of a field and says will you shoot my wedding? I says, no way. Not in a million years. I’m never going to do that. I’m never going to do that. And he kept at me and kept at me and here I am.

Alan Law:

That’s so cool. I love that. Someone on horseback came up and said, can you shoot my wedding? I think this is a great story to get into.

David Ryan:

It happened in a field, me in a pair of wellies. And I just didn’t want to do it. I never wanted to go into that world, but here I am.

Alan Law:

Oh yeah. So what was that first wedding like? Did you know when you just turned up to the wedding then you were just going to shoot it the way you wanted to? You didn’t go through the motions of kind of like traditional wedding photography?

David Ryan:

No, that was never going to be me as we touched on it earlier, David’s going to be David and he’s going to do it his way or that’s it. But I’ve always been inspired by photo journalism and I remember the night before the wedding, I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep a wink. And that’s the only thing I remember from it. Other than that I got into it. It was fine. I look back at the photographs and yeah, they’re rubbish

Alan Law:

But you’d say that if you just photographed the wedding last week by the sounds of it, you’d say that anyway.

David Ryan:

They wouldn’t be as rubbish. Those were particularly rubbish. But you know, we have to start somewhere and I went in and did it solo and the neck I had to do it. When you think back at doing your first wedding ever on your own and not knowing what’s happening, it was crazy.

Alan Law:

That is scary. And did the guy, the person who you know, asked you to shoot their wedding, did he know that you were going to shoot it? I guess he wanted you to shoot it in your way?

David Ryan:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. He knew the way I photograph hunting and horse racing and stuff like that. He knew what he was buying into it. He was buying into crazy Dave and doing it his own way. And all my clients are like that. They all sort of get me. A lot of my clients would see the world the same way I do. I don’t get the bridezillas, they just don’t even come near me. They wouldn’t even ring me or email me. It doesn’t happen.

Alan Law:

I guess that. And that’s cool. And I guess a lot of that is because the images that you show, and same with me to a certain extent as well. I show kind of lots of unflattering images of the couple. So people who want that picture perfect day are not going to come to me either.

David Ryan:

Oh no. Your website is a filter. It’s a very good filter. And people that do book you and the organic bookings which is my main type of booking which is not from a referral, they are usually the best. They’re booking you because of your photographs, nothing else. And that’s wonderful. And yeah, an organic booking will give you a great couple and you know, you’ll shoot good photographs in that day. You’ll be happy. And that’s very important.

Alan Law:

That is. That’s so. That’s the most important thing, I think. It’s the most important thing in life and so important in business as well. I think that’s so true about them loving your images. I mean, that was, I think for me, another reason why I never, you know, I’ve never done a wedding fair because I don’t want to be chosen just because I’m at their venue and I shot at their venue, you know, doing a wedding fair. I want people to look at everyone’s images and find mine and just prefer mine, you know. I think that’s the way I’ve always wanted to do it.

David Ryan:

I think it’s more successful that way. I think I did a wedding fair once or twice before. The last wedding for I did was I think about two years ago. I don’t know why I did it. And I paid a lot of money to do it. And on the second day I felt like going home, this is oh god. And I actually picked up one wedding out of it.

Alan Law:

Well that’s not all that bad?

David Ryan:

It paid for itself, so it’s not too bad and it was a good wedding. They were cringing. The two girls that booked me, they were cringing at being the wedding fair and I was cringing being behind the table at the wedding.

Alan Law:

Perfect fit.

David Ryan:

All perfect fit. We were all lost that day. But anyway, we found each other. Thank God.

Alan Law:

That’s cool. Yeah, because that’s another thing about wedding fairs. You know, I’d be really nervous about having to stand there and just talk to people all day. Weren’t you really scared? No?

David Ryan:

I was fed up. Alan I was really fed up because I think wedding fairs, they just attract a certain type of client and they’re not my clients. You will get the bridezillers coming in, you’ll get the bride with her other sisters and her mother coming. That’s not my type of bride. My type of bride thinks for herself, does her own thing, doesn’t get steered by the family and she doesn’t go to wedding fairs. But it’s good to go because it gives you an insight into the other side of the wedding industry, and it’s a part of the wedding world I don’t want to be part of, you know, so you learn. You learn. Everything you do, you learn from. So that’s fine.

Alan Law:

That’s so true. You mentioned just earlier and I was going to ask you about it as well. You know there’s a real realness to your images. Realness. I should be able to come up with a better word than realness, but you know what I mean. It’s real authentic documentary, your work and, and just as an example of it, and you mentioned it yourself, is that you do capture quite a lot of people smoking which I think is really cool, you know, but it’s just to say my experience and I would want to capture that as well, but a lot of my brides literally tell me, you know, they don’t want photos of them smoking. So do you never kind of get that?

David Ryan:

It’s funny. I always have a chat. I never meet people anymore before a wedding, which I never really did. And I sort of have a chat with a bride maybe on a phone before she books me and we’ll go over a few things. I’ll say a few things just to sort of test the water. And if she reacts badly to it, she’s probably not my client. So they’re well, the way I used to. I make sure they know what they’re buying themselves, getting themselves into before they book me. I’m very honest Alan. I that’s what I said to you at the start the podcast. Honesty all the time. A hundred percent. Why lie to somebody before they book you just to get the booking? Tell them the truth. And I do, I get brides I love your smoking shots. Well, fantastic. And it’s on those phone calls. I never ever push the booking. I never do the hard sell. I let them go away and let them book me for themselves. Let them make a decision. It’s their decision, not mine. So yeah.

Alan Law:

That’s pretty cool. Have you ever turned away any kind of potential business, you know, because you thought they’re not a good fit?

David Ryan:

Yeah, of course I have. You knew I’d say that, didn’t you? There was one in particular, I remember. He actually got through the net a little bit. It was a groom couple of years ago and he actually paid his deposits and he came back to me. Oh man. He was like a brideziller, the questions he was asking. And he got a shock. I just said, look, I’ll just send you the deposit back. We’re not a good fit and there’s no point Alan, in going down that road with somebody. I just knew it wasn’t a good fit. His questions were unbelievable.

Alan Law:

What kind of thing?

David Ryan:

I can’t remember. I just remember he was like the worst bridezilla ever. And he was the groom and I said it. This is not going to work. And I think he was on about loads of posed pictures here, there and everywhere. And it just wasn’t me, but he nearly fell over when I said I was going to give you a deposit back because you’ve got to remember this one thing which is really important to me. If I shot that wedding and sort of did what he wanted to do and say he wasn’t happy after it was over and there’s no turning back once a wedding is shot. I’m a big believer that bad news travels fast. So if I went ahead and booked that and he didn’t like his pictures, will he badmouth me? So what’s the point of doing it? I want people to say good things about me afterwards and by giving you a deposit back like that, it was a good move.

Alan Law:

Yeah, yeah. I’m sure. I’m sure cause a lot of people, they get warning signs beforehand but they still always, you know, go through with the booking because they want the money and then they regret it afterwards. They do. So I think it’s, yeah, it’s a good approach.

David Ryan:

It’s not about the money Alan. It never was. It’s a bonus to be paid for doing something I absolutely adore. No, it’s not about the money. And that’s why I’m not afraid. I know it’s funny when I gave him back his deposit, I felt great. That’s absolutely wonderful. And that’s good. If that feeling is good and if you do get the heebie jeebies about somebody and you know, yeah, you’re better off walking away.

Alan Law:

Yeah, definitely. And you mentioned about how he wanted like maybe some more pose photos and things. Do you, I know your approach does seem to be, you know, really documentary. Do you still do some couple shots or group photos or do you not at all? Are you, you know, totally pure?

David Ryan:

I’m very, very pure. At the same time, the one thing about me, if I was getting married tomorrow, will I want my family shot taken? Of course I would. I’ve pretty much value family history. Family history is really, really important. Who is there on the day because in 30 years’ time, they may not be with us? So I always do three group shots. I do bridal party and the two immediate families. I haven’t done pretty much in five minutes flat. We don’t go anywhere. I’m just there to record who was there on the day because you can’t tell it was guaranteed to get everyone in a documentary setting. So that’s why I do that. And then I do about five minutes with the couple, but we don’t go anywhere either. You know, I could end up in a underground car park where it’s nice light or something, but we don’t go anywhere. I’m not into this where are you going for photographs? We’re going nowhere. It’s a wedding. Photography is never going to dominate it as long as I’m shooting the wedding.

Alan Law:

Definitely. I totally agree with that and that’s awesome. Yeah. Cool. Okay Dave. Let’s change tack slightly and let’s change tack. What would be your last meal on death row? And I’m guessing it wouldn’t be a McDonald’s.

David Ryan:

No, it wouldn’t. It’d be a Curry from some Curry house in Birmingham.

Alan Law:

I’m from Birmingham originally.

David Ryan:

I have a friend over Birmingham and every time I go over, there used to be some place we used to go to and it looks really grimy, but it was great. It was called Cushy. I don’t know where it is but anyway, yeah, that was the easiest question ever. I thought I’d have to think about that. No listen, me and curries, my God. For an Irish man to love really hot and spicy curries, it’s really strange. But anyway, yeah, easy question. That’s a new question in your repertoire. I was getting ready for all the old faithfuls that are coming through. No, that’s a new one.

Alan Law:

There’ll be some old faithfuls as well. What Curry would it be? Do you have a favourite Curry?

David Ryan:

No, don’t care.

Alan Law:

Oh really? That’s funny.

David Ryan:

You can hand me anything and I’d eat it. I don’t care. I really don’t care.

Alan Law:

That’s good. I see my parents like every Wednesday, well before lockdown. I can’t now, but my mom makes me a chicken and mushroom vindaloo every Wednesday. Absolutely love it. It’s awesome.

David Ryan:

And is that vindaloo as hot as the vindaloo on the streets of Birmingham.

Alan Law:

Well, probably not. No, probably not. But it’s still hot. It’s still hot.

David Ryan:

‘Cause vindaloo In Ireland is not hot. It’s not hot at all.

Alan Law:

Oh is it not really? No.

David Ryan:

No. They have to be careful here not to run the customers away.

Alan Law:

Do you know? I’ve only been to Ireland a few times and I’ve only ever been to Dublin. I need to visit more of Ireland. I really want to, I do really want to.

David Ryan:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You should.

Alan Law:

Do you know that? Oh, but before we go on to that, do you know that Dublin is like the biggest city in Europe now? Isn’t it? Cause it keeps doubling, doubling and doubling.

David Ryan:

Go again.

Alan Law:

It keeps doubling and doubling!

David Ryan:

God, I feel stupid now. Is there a joke I missed?

Alan Law:

Oh, I just love that one, man. It’s a good one. It’s a good one. Right. Okay. Has there been a book that you’ve read that’s had a lasting impact on you in some way? Could be fiction or nonfiction.

David Ryan:

Oh yes. One recently. Oh my God. Ben Macintyre. I’m big into the cold war history at the moment, cold war politics. And God, I’m getting goose bumps even telling you about it. Ben Macintyre wrote a book on a spy; Russian spy that defected to England and his name is Oleg Gordievsky. And it was a fantastic story about him spying for the English in Russia, in the Soviet union, sorry and his escape out of the Soviet union when they rumbled him as a spy and how he was brought back to England and he’s still alive and living in England today. Out of 10, the book, I’ll rate it 10. It blew me away. I read a lot. I read an awful lot. It has to be fact. I won’t read fiction. I tried fiction just for the sake of it about a year ago and I had to throw the book away. I said, I can’t do this. So I do an awful lot of reading politics, Northern Ireland troubles. But at the moment a complete addiction of the cold war.

Alan Law:

That’s interesting you don’t like fiction then. I wonder If that kind of ties into the, you know, how documentary you are at weddings as well.

David Ryan:

I think that’s a good point. Yeah. I like everything to be real and yeah, Fiction to me just doesn’t work. Even movies and stuff like that doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for me. Never has. I have tried. Don’t worry. I have tried, but yeah. And the book I’m reading at the moment again is by Ben Macintyre and it’s on Kim Philby, another spy except he defected to Russia.

Alan Law:

Right. Wow. Okay, cool. Yeah. Yeah. Quite a few of your captures show, you know, a real sense of movement, you know, maybe with a slower shutter speed. I don’t know. I mean, you know, a lot of photographers don’t show them. Can you any, any tips on those, you know, or you know why you show quite a lot of those?

David Ryan:

Why do I take them?

Alan Law:

A lot of photographers don’t even take those or don’t show them. And I think it’s, it’s, again, it’s very different and something that’s quite unique to your work, and I think it’s really cool. So, yeah, I just wondered what your thoughts are.

David Ryan:

Yeah, they’re risky shots Alan and there’s one thing I always find myself doing at a wedding. Sometimes I could find myself about to click the shutter and I sort of go with my head and I do this quite a lot. I really do. And I ask myself, hang on, Dave, stop. This picture is going to look like everybody else’s wedding photo. Will another wedding photographer take this shot? And I go in my head, ‘yeah.’ And I walk away. I love slow shutter. You don’t do too much of it. It’s really risky. But I love taking risks and yeah, bride and groom mightn’t get it, but I love it. I absolutely love it. Keeps me happy. It’s sort of creative and it’s what I do. A lot of my images would be gritty and grainy and stuff like that, but it’s just who I am. Maybe it’s just the influence of street photography. It’s as I said, the street photographer becomes a wedding photographer for a day and that’s why I do it. But I do it because I love it and because I think it’s different, but I don’t set out to be different. It’s just me at the end of the day. It’s just me. It’s what I love.

Alan Law:

Yeah. I think that’s great. And it’s something that you enjoy as you say, it’s you and so many wedding photographers are just doing it, you know, as a business and you know, it comes across in your work. If you’re not enjoying it, I think.

David Ryan:

Yeah, it definitely would. Yeah. It’s part of the evolution of who I am as a person, as a photographer. I’m not happy unless I evolve. I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year. I’ll be out to practice next year. That’s just going to happen. That’s what I’m fearful of. How to work a camera. I take pictures because that’s who I am and I take pictures the way I want to because that’s what makes me happy. And at the end of the day, Alan, I take pictures for fun and I take wedding photos for fun and that’s it. If people like what I do, happy days.

Alan Law:

That’s cool. So if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be doing? Would you still be doing something with photography or would it be totally different?

David Ryan:

I could have been a teacher. I could have been a teacher. I have a degree in classical studies and geography so it could have gone that route. I tried that for a little bit. I couldn’t stand the staff room politics. Typically me. It’s like, Oh God almighty. I was a bit of a dead poet’s society, Robin Williams type of teacher. I didn’t like being called sir, stuff like that. So I’d like kids to call me by my Christian name. But, you know, I didn’t fit into that world. It definitely wasn’t me, but you probably can tell that from talking to me. I’m a bit of a Free spirit. I have been a free spirit. I subbed for a while and then I was an art teacher for a while because I came out of college as well. It just, nah, it just didn’t rock my boat. It just felt that you’re under the watchful eye of other teachers, headmasters, stuff like that. And that’s not me. I like to do things my own way.

Alan Law:

What about teaching photography? You ever done that?

David Ryan:

No. No, not a chance. Not a chance. I see everyone’s getting into these. What are these things they’re all doing? They’re all doing this online course and stuff and Oh, workshops. That’s the word I’m looking for. You’ll never see me do a workshop.

Alan Law:

No? Do one or attend one or both?

David Ryan:

No, no. I have no interest in attending them because you have to meet in a group and I hate that whole situation. I’d run. Oh God. Fifty photographers in one room, I’d be gone.

Alan Law:

Oh Man. Yeah, because I know I went to Doc Day last. It was always this year in Dublin and I thought maybe I’ll meet you there, but you weren’t there, were you? No?

David Ryan:

I think Kevin tried to get me there. I told him the same thing. Not a chance. It’s just I’d be uncomfortable Alan. It’s just me. It’s me. If I have to go to a wedding, I’ve got to go to a wedding. It’s booked in. You know, you have to commit to that, but going to something like a conference or a workshop. Oh God. Oh no. That’s no insult to anybody doing a workshop or anything. It’s just not me. I’m not wired that way. And I think I’d prefer to be at home, reading a book with a cup of coffee all day long going hoo, thank God I missed that.

Alan Law:

I get that feeling. I get it as well. I get it.

David Ryan:

Why do you go then? Why do you go if you feel uncomfortable?

Alan Law:

I mean, I do so many things where I feel uncomfortable. I don’t know. I mean, there are obviously good sides to it. I get nervous about it, even if I’m not speaking, I get really nervous. But then I do end up enjoying it, you know, as well. So I don’t know.

David Ryan:

Okay. It well then, the end result is enjoyment. Yeah. I suppose I never do anything I really don’t want to do, I’m stubborn that way because what’s the point of putting yourself into an uncomfortable situation when you can actually avoid it. So yeah, I guess, yeah. There’s a fear of people sometimes with me, but that’s just me.

Alan Law:

I just think it’s so interesting, especially when each Saturday you’re going, you’ve been surrounded by like a hundred, hundred and fifty people. You’re constantly putting yourself through it. So you’re being brave though as well, each weekend.

David Ryan:

Yeah, but I could hide behind the camera, can’t I? Ask me to go to a wedding as a guest. Oh my God. Even before I was a wedding photographer, I couldn’t even do that. Oh no, no, no, no, no. I’ve done the odd one and the last five years I go, Oh no, this is not for me. I suppose being a wedding photographer, it’s not something I want to do anymore, but it was never for me. No. So yeah, I’d rather miss it. I think I was invited to a wedding once and I was booked for another wedding another day and I was so happy.

Alan Law:

I just find it so interesting because talking to, you know, we’ve spoken and you’re speaking so naturally to me now, and you know, you, you speak so eloquently as well. And I don’t get why you’re not like a social hound and partying each weekend. You just seem really good at it.

David Ryan:

Yeah. It’s funny. We were watching TV the other night. There was something on that was so mad. Oh yeah. I think you’ve got to get over in England too. Is it called ordinary people or something? It’s some racy Irish drama.

Alan Law:

Oh yeah. I started to read the novel actually a few months ago. So I’ve read half of it but I’ve not watched the program yet. No. Is it good?

David Ryan:

Yeah, it’s good. It’s good. But there was a scene on it. And there was some house party on. They were all in Trinity College in Dublin University, a house party. And I went, I never went to house parties when I was in college. I couldn’t stand them. So, you know, that’s just me again. It’s just me. But when I do go into a wedding I do often end up talking. I always end up talking to the older generation. I gravitate to them. I think there’s less bullshit with them and they tell you all the stories. So yeah, just give me a wedding to work at, but don’t send me to a wedding as a guest.

Alan Law:

Okay, that’s cool. And a lot of your work is black and whites, you know, obviously a lot of colour as well, but you do show a lot of black and white images. How do you personally decide which image you, you know, you like in black and white? Do you have a methodology for that or is it just a feeling or?

David Ryan:

It’s called mood Alan. What mood is Dave in today? It’s totally mood. I tell you what I did recently and it’s unusual for me to do is to mix black and white and colour in the odd blog. I don’t like doing that. I don’t like seeing the two beside each other. It’s like wearing a really good suit with really bad shoes.

Alan Law:

Normally when you blog then, is it normally just pure black and white or it will be pure colour? Yeah.

David Ryan:

Yeah. It’s more black and white and the blog, they’re my selection. That’s it. That’s the way I saw the wedding. It’s nothing to do with the bride and groom. It’s just my mood and winter weddings particularly I think sometimes end up in black and white, but yeah, it’s just my mood. How am I feeling today? What does this look like? Or I get a feel for a wedding if it’s, I just I don’t know. I just love black and white. I see in black and white, I actually see in black and white at the wedding. Always do. Yeah. It’s just the way I see the world.

Alan Law:

Cool, man, I guess for the clients who come to you as well, they must black and white as well with you showing so much, it’s kind of a win, win again.

David Ryan:

Yeah. I do a good few albums go fully black and white, which is great. It’s fantastic to know that some people just, yeah, go ahead, Dave, and do that and designed it for us. And I had a full input into the wedding out from the start and more times than not, they might change one or two pictures, but it’s a great process, but you have black and white and a client that loves it, happy days.

Alan Law:

Yeah. Cool. Cool. What would be your top, and here’s a classic. And I’ve asked this before so it’s very interesting but yeah, what would be your top tips to help someone get better at the documentary side of wedding photography?

David Ryan:

Well, I touched on it already. Take pictures for fun. Do that for starters, definitely. I think that’s one of the most important things that anyone could do. This trying to meet the demands of the wedding industry or the expectations of the wedding industry and what’s perceived as a wedding photograph or what you think the couples might want. I go into a wedding and I have my own voice and it may not be commercially popular, but that’s what I do and I think being very single minded is really important. Another thing that I would do is I do a lot of practice on the street. I practice street photography all the time. It is a fantastic place to operate.

Alan Law:

I’ve never done it. I’ve never done it.

David Ryan:

I adore it.

Alan Law:

Do you do that all over in cities? And I guess it has to be in the cities. What a silly question. You don’t do street photography in the fields, do you?

David Ryan:

Oh no, no, but you can. I just adore it. I adore the whole thing of, you don’t know what’s around the next corner and stuff like that. So I practice a lot on the streets. I don’t show a lot of my street photography work, but it’s a great place to practice to be a documentary wedding photographer.

Alan Law:

Again, I just find that slightly strange again in that I would be so scared to do street photography. And yet, you know, we’ve talked about, you’re kind of, you’re a bit of, you know, the fears that you have and whatnot, and yet you’re doing the street photography, which is like, you know, it’s really brave again.

David Ryan:

Yeah, yeah. There’s a bit of a Bruce Gilden in me, believe it or not. There’s a little bit of it in me. I’m not fearful of the streets. I could walk down a really, really dangerous street that wouldn’t phase me at all. I’m going to talk my way out of trouble. I’m good at dissipating anger. It’s something I’ve always been good at. I can win people over. If they’re angry, I can win them over very, very quickly in a very nice way. But I adore street photography. It’s a great place to practice. Documentary photography, how to be good at it? Travel light, definitely travel light. I bring all gear with me. I really have a light so I don’t have.

Alan Law:

What’s your go to kind of set up? What do you?

David Ryan:

Do we have to talk about cameras?

Alan Law:

Well, no. I hardly ever do but some people are interested.

David Ryan:

Let’s just say they’re two 12 year old boddies. 2 Canon D Kind of like I have no interest in camera care, zero interest so much so that I tape up all the logos on my cameras to stop conversations at wedding that come up and go, Oh, do you like Canon? Or do you like Nikon? And if he doesn’t see a logo on your camera, that conversation doesn’t happen, which is quite good. Yeah, I look at art. I look at art a lot. I think that’s important for people if they want to get inspired. I look different places for inspiration. Degas, are you familiar with his work? French ballerinas. I love all his stuff. And I follow street photographers, Elliot Erwit, Bruce Gilden. And one thing I’ve done recently, which should be quite a surprise to hear, and it’s only recent I’ve done this. I’ve stopped following loads and loads of wedding photographers on Instagram and on Facebook. And that was a little hint from Jeff Ascough and it was the best thing I ever did. And I’ve done that, I think, over the last six weeks. And I don’t see any wedding photography coming up on my feeds anymore. It’s really, really good. And the only wedding photographer, sorry Alan?

Alan Law:

I was just going to say good in what, how, in what ways have been good for you? Like just kind of your mental health or like your inspiration?

David Ryan:

Yes, yes, yes. Yes. Because as I said to you at the start of the podcast, I feel crap about myself a lot of the time. I look at my own work and I question it and I scratch my head and then you see everybody else putting up all these feeds of how great they are and how awesome this wedding was. And I see all these pictures, you go crap. Am I doing the wrong thing and it doesn’t help the mental health. I totally agree with you. And the only wedding photographer I have remained to follow is Jeff Ascough.

Alan Law:

Oh, really? Wow. Okay.

David Ryan:

And he has always, always been my favourite wedding photographer, way, way back, you know, the way sometimes you have a favourite wedding photographer and you go off them and you find somebody else, you go on to them and you go, I love what they do. I have never, ever, ever moved off Jeff and his attitude to photography. I think he’s wonderful.

Alan Law:

And that’s cool. Cool. I went on his workshop a few years ago, quite early on about five, six years ago. Have you ever been on, no, you’ve not been in a workshop?

David Ryan:

No. I’d love to go to one of these workshops, but I won’t go because it’s just not me.

Alan Law:

What if he did an online workshop?

David Ryan:

No. I just love his attitude to photography. I love his attitude to life but some people might disagree with me, but you know, we’re very similar people in a way but I’ve always, always. He’s always been my number one. And he did mention recently about stop following other wedding Photographers, took his advice and it’s the best thing I’ve done in the last six weeks.

Alan Law:

Oh, that’s cool. That’s cool, man. Well, obviously I totally understand it. You know, I totally understand that. And I still get that kind of roller coaster type thing as well when you see other people’s work and it makes you kind of question your own.

David Ryan:

No, it’s not good for the mental health. I had to stop it. It was wrecking my head. And all of a sudden you find yourself showing your sister oh what do you think? Because she’s arty, what do you think of this guy’s work? This guy’s work. Look, it’s crazy. You’ve got to stop somewhere and just follow street photographers. That’s what I do right now. That’s it.

Alan Law:

Cool. Wow. That’s cool, man. Cool. So looking back at life or business or both, are there things you would have done differently at all?

David Ryan:

You mean, do I have any regrets?

Alan Law:

Yeah that’s a long way of saying that.

David Ryan:

That’s one of your questions. You know, that’s one of your questions.

Alan Law:

I’ve reworded it just for you.

David Ryan:

I Know, I don’t know. I saw it. I saw it. I saw it coming. No, I just thought what’s the point of regretting? What’s the point in looking back? I’ve made loads of mistakes on the way. I make loads of mistakes in the future. And as long as I learn from them and as long as I evolve and that’s the most important thing for me, as long as you evolve as a person and as a photographer, I’m happy. Evolution, I might be going backwards, but as long as I’m evolving, I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me.

Alan Law:

That’s cool. And that’s a great attitude, man. I think I was going to ask you this as well, but I think I saw that you, you only shoot solo. Don’t you have any second photographers?

David Ryan:

Not in a million years. I’ll tell you a little story. Last year I had a friend and we shot together as sort of an experiment. So I was the main shooter and he was second. I’ve never done it before. It’s not for me. It’s not for me. And I feel what’s the second photographer going to get that you aren’t going to get because at the end of the day, I shoot like a second anyway.

Alan Law:

In what way, what do you mean?

David Ryan:

Well, everything is on the cuff, candid. Usually second photographers, get all that lovely stuff. You know, all the stuff that doesn’t involve, all the posing and all that sort of stuff. And they get all the stuff that the main photographer doesn’t usually get. Well, I shoot like a second photographer so I didn’t see an advantage in it. So, no, it’s not for me. I love being on my own. I don’t even like a videographer around. Not that I hate them or anything. I just work so much better when I’m on my own as a wedding. It’s just like, I get into the zone, this mental zone. And if there’s a videographer there I’m even happier, but I rarely see a videographer. No, one of every ten weddings I’d see one, you know, and I deal with it now, 10 years ago, I just go, I used to grumble on and go rrrrrrr. They used to drive me mad. Now I accept it all. They’re part of the story so what? You know, that’s it

Alan Law:

So true. Yeah. I’m same as you. I only ever shoot solo as well as just the way I like to do it. But yeah, it’s just interesting how people work differently. What does it mean to be successful to you then?

David Ryan:

What’s success Alan?

Alan Law:

Yeah, I know, but that’s exactly. That’s exactly what I find interesting. What is success? What is success?

David Ryan:

Success is to be waking up at the morning and going downstairs before the kids get up and having a coffee on my own. That’s success. No, it’s a word that I never think about it. So I don’t aspire to be anything or I don’t aspire to succeed at this, that and the other. So what does success mean to me? I don’t know. I’m just happy. I’m just happy with really, really simple things. I don’t really care for much. And I suppose maybe success for me is going out at night-time on my mountain bike and flying down some hill at 30 miles an hour. That’s success. I’m happy with that. But as far as photography and business and making money, no, definitely not.

Alan Law:

I think that’s great. Yes. So I just think, honestly, I just think that’s awesome. I really do. And for me, you know, it’s just wanting to be happy and that’s all that really matters. People being happy. Yeah.

David Ryan:

I think in the world we work in, a lot of people, you know, there are a lot of big egos out there and they’re like bragging about how many weddings they’re shooting a year and all that sort of stuff. And look at how great I am and how successful. That’s not me. Oh my God. That’s not me. Success to me maybe as being, just being me and being quiet and just do my own thing. And being happy. That’s it? Nothing else.

Alan Law:

That’s awesome. I think that’s a perfect answer, man. I do. I really do. I just think that’s so cool and is awesome. What was I going to say? Yeah, by the way, cause I’ve just got one here and I ask this anyway, normally, but I want to ask it now. It is I’m highlighting over canapes.

David Ryan:

Back off. Are you serious? You’re not serious. You know what? If you didn’t ask me that question, you know, I’d hate you. You know, I need that question. I’m ready for it.

Alan Law:

I’m gonna ask it. Do you eat the canapes?

David Ryan:

Ah Jesus. I am actually prepared for this one. As a side, so I’ve raced pushbikes all in my life. Most of my life, I raced, I road raced to stuff like that. So I’d be very, very free sort of into bicycle. So I actually go into a wedding with energy gels and electrolyte tablets.

Alan Law:

Right. Okay, cool.

David Ryan:

No, I don’t eat the canapes, I live on all these carbo fuels and stuff like this. Just picture a cyclist going into a race and his backpack is full of all this stuff you buy in sports shops. Well, that’s me going into a wedding.

Alan Law:

That’s cool. That’s like a proper athlete going into, yeah. Proper. That’s cool man.

David Ryan:

You have to, you’ve got to come into a wedding like that. I got dehydrated at a wedding recently and I forgot to drink enough. And it was quite dangerously dehydrated, I was. So no, you’ve got to fuel up and stuff like that. You go back to your question of how do I become a good documentary photographer, improve, keep eating, keep drinking, because I’ll tell you one thing when you hit that wall it’s hard to come back from it and you won’t take good photographs.

Alan Law:

That’s so true. Yeah. That’s really good advice as well. What do you find the most challenging aspect of what we do then, you know, with wedding photography as a whole. It could be shooting or business. Just the overall thing of what we do. What do you think is most challenging?

David Ryan:

The wedding industry. That’s simple. The wedding industry. It drives me bananas. I have no interest in the wedding industry. I actually adore what I do, absolutely adore what I do, because I’m working with the right people that give me the freedom to do what I want, but you’ll walk into some hotel and you get some wedding planner in the hotel that’s so used to doing things by duh duh duh duh…This is the way we do it. Just the way we’re doing it for the last 10 years. And they don’t get what I’m up to. Oh, you’re the photographer. Oh, this is the best place for photographs, you know, all that sort of stuff. I just don’t know. I find the wedding industry and I said it in my best of blog, saccharin sweet. And it really, really great on me at times. It’s not that I like, I adore what I do as I said to you, but the wedding industry, and I think that’s why I’m quite happy at the moment with the coronavirus. I’m getting a break from the wedding industry. Cause it just really, really annoys me sometimes. I find it very fake, Alan, extremely fake. You’ll see a wedding planner sometimes all over abroad and gushing all over. Oh, you’re lovely. And then you could hear her outside in the hallway bitching about her. And you know, you’ve seen stuff like that. We’ve all seen stuff like that. Well, I’ve seen it and I suddenly go, how can you be like that? You know, it’s just so fake. And I get pretty sad when I see that happening. Extremely sad. So yeah, that’s something that really…what was the question again?

Alan Law:

What was the most challenging aspect of it all?

David Ryan:

I find that challenging. It’s funny these days I’m experienced now at dodging these wedding planners and people with knives to cut the cake and stuff. I’ve often been asked lately, oh, you’re the wedding photographer guy. No, no, no, no. I’ll walk on and they’d be wondering what the hell. I do that and I do it in a nice way. They get confused. They assume you’re the wedding photographer. You’re telling them you’re not. Then you can go off and do what you want. That’s great. Yeah. That’s the thing that really, and it does really, really annoy me on a scale of one to 10. The wedding industry really, really bothers me. It’s all that sort of saccharin sweet wedding fairs and smiles and you know, you know yourself what I’m talking about.

Alan Law:

Yeah, yeah, I do. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. It’s yeah. It’s mad. Isn’t it? That is our kind of surroundings but yeah.

David Ryan:

You don’t find it a bit cheesy sometimes?

Alan Law:

Oh, of course. Yeah, of course. It’s so much cheese and the whole the trend things with people, same material objects, like bird cages and stuff. And I don’t get why people want their weddings to look like other people’s?

David Ryan:

The latest trends. What is the latest trend?

Alan Law:

I know. Yeah, I know but yeah. Okay, cool. Cool. Dave, again, this has flown by. It’s been an hour already, which is awesome. I said one more question. So I’m quite interesting then really. Because no, I’m not interesting. I mean, I’m quite interested. In terms of your marketing then how are you getting your weddings? You know, you’re not that keen on the wedding industry, which I totally get and we’re, I’m, you know, like you, you’re not showing many, you know, flattering images and things. How are you getting your couples, do you think, how are you getting most of your kind of bookings?

David Ryan:

I don’t know. I think at the end of the day, I’m really brutal at all this promotion stuff. If I wasn’t a wedding photographer, I wouldn’t be on Facebook. I wouldn’t be on Instagram. I just dread the whole thing. So I try and let my photographs do the talking for me. If they like it, book me, if you don’t like don’t book me. And there’s one thing I never do. And I said that to you already. I never do the hard sell. Oh Book me down I’ll give you 10% off and all this sort of stuff. I just, it’s not going to happen. So I get a certain clientele that come to me. I don’t get much word of mouth lately. Word of mouth has died off a little bit, which is strange, but I could I’m looking at the last two years, I got a barrage of barristers booking me, which was mad and none of them had come from the other, none of them were word of mouth, but I went to asking, they all knew each other, which is funny. Cause it’s a tiny little world. So I got. The last two years, the amount of barristers I got was unbelievable. And then I got an awful lot of artistic people, too, the sort of crazy artistic people. It’s just got, oh, you do whatever you want. And then I get people that just don’t want their photograph taken and they’re fantastic to work with. But no, I don’t market myself. Definitely not. I just go and let the photographs do it and hopefully an organic booking will come out of it. As I said, they’re always the best. Always. I think you know, the marketing, some people market themselves and they see the whole industry as a popularity contest of trying to look cool and hip and trendy. Well, I’m certainly too old for all that. And I’m not going to be doing one of these videos they do on Instagram or they call insta stories. I don’t know what the call those. Photographers do all that sort of stuff. I can’t do that stuff. I’m too old anyway, 50.

Alan Law:

That’s not old man.

David Ryan:

I know. I’m still cycling my bike and I feel like a 21 year old. Don’t get me wrong, but I sort of, I think the whole bullshit of the marketing bullshit is something I can’t do. It’s like my photographs, my photographs, you know, they’re not fake. And the whole marketing thing can be very fake. So I can’t really go down that road. So book me if you like my photographs and book someone else if you don’t like them.

Alan Law:

Perfect, that’s great. That should be a tagline on your home page. It could be.

David Ryan:

I wouldn’t be afraid to say that. You wanna see my contract. You’d laugh at my contract. All the photographs I don’t take. Yeah, I don’t do this. I don’t take shoes. I don’t take the bookcase and the dress hanging up.

Alan Law:

Really? Wow. Cool, man. That’s literally your contract.

David Ryan:

It’s about being honest Alan. It’s about being honest and that’s all I can be is honest.

Alan Law:

That’s so cool, man.

David Ryan:

Honest photos and honest Dave, that’s all I can do.

Alan Law:

I think that’s a great way to end it. It’s perfect. Oh man, man. Thank you so much for talking to me. Thank you for your time and your openness, your honesty. I just found that so interesting. It was awesome talking to you, man. Thank you.

David Ryan:

Thank you Alan. You didn’t ask half those questions I was ready for. Loads of them.

Alan Law:

I’ve gotta make it different, man.

David Ryan:

I’m glad. I’m glad. But I did. I was here. I heard all the old ones coming out. I say y’all I get that one there now. Yeah. Anyway. Brilliant. I enjoyed talking to you Alan. Thank you for calling.

Alan Law:

Oh no. Thank you for talking to me. It’s brilliant. Anyone listening to this, you know, head to thisisreportage.com. there’ll be, I’ll put loads of examples of David’s work or link to his website. You wrote a this is how piece for us a while ago now, which was great, that Blackboard image (above). Isn’t it?

David Ryan:

Oh yeah. Yeah. I do love that. There’s an image I love I did. I actually love that. I’ve never doubted that. It’s real. It’s actually real image. I love it. I do like that. Yeah. Can I ask you one favour? Could I ask you one favour before you go?

Alan Law:

Okay. You can. Go for it.

David Ryan:

You know the way you always say, when you post these podcasts, you go ‘the wonderful John Murphy’ or ‘the fab….’ Just call me David. Don’t call me fab. I’ll cringe.

Alan Law:

Okay man. Okay.

David Ryan:

Don’t do that. Just go, David Ryan photographer. If you aren’t going to use it, but yeah, if you go fab, I’ll get onto you and go change that. I don’t want to be called fab. I mean, I’m a bit humble Alan. I just don’t see myself as fab or wonderful or you know.

Alan Law:

Man, you’re so good though. You’ve won so many awards. Your work is brilliant. It’s going to be conspicuous if I just say David.

David Ryan:

No, no, don’t do that. Don’t do that. That’s not me Alan. Yeah, you always do that. I know you mean well and I mean well by saying it. I don’t mean to be rude. I started going, I don’t want to see my name beside the fab, David Ryan. Cause you know what? I’m not fab.

Alan Law:

But you so are. Now I’m in a quandary now because I think you are fab but now you’ve said don’t put fab and then would I be rude if I do say fab now? And then would I be rude if I didn’t?

David Ryan:

Oh yeah. Take it from me. You’ll insult me if you say fab cause I’ll give you the warning now. Oh, it’s still fine. It’s just me. I just I’d like to, as I said, I like to hide away under a little rock sometimes and yeah, I’m quite happy to talk to you Alan. I think it went okay. And I think my nerves dissipated and stuff like that. But yeah, Alan Law don’t call me fab or wonderful or anything because I’m not.

Alan Law:

But you are! Just because you may not think it doesn’t mean you’re not.

David Ryan:

Ah, come on. Jesus. Let’s get real. You sort of talked about the awards and stuff like that. You’re the only website I enter stuff into but I sort of see the awards and I used to promote them. I think when I won one or two before I put them on my Facebook page. Now I don’t do it because I sort of go, Oh no, I can’t do that because I can’t market myself like that. I don’t want to sort of go, Oh, look at me. I won an award. So I stopped doing it.

Alan Law:

Oh Man. I mean, I totally understand where you’re coming from, but yeah…

David Ryan:

No Alan it killed me. It actually killed me to put those. I think I promoted one or two awards and it killed me to do it. Ah, nah, I just know it wasn’t me.

Alan Law:

You have to show. It’s an achievement.

David Ryan:

It is. But I’ll quietly accept it.

Alan Law:

Well that’s cool. That’s the dignity. That’s cool.

David Ryan:

So anyway, there you go. You know what to say about me.

Alan Law:

Okay awesome! Anybody who’s listening maybe while cycling or running, do head to thisisreportage.com and you’ll see David’s work and as I say, links to his website and this is how I post. And man, yeah thank you so much again. And hopefully I’ll get to meet you in the flesh one day. You know? You never know. That would be awesome.

David Ryan:

Yeah. At a conference maybe Alan?

Alan Law:

Yeah. Probably not likely, but you never know. Some other situation.

David Ryan:

No it won’t. Listen Alan, thank you for calling and it was lovely talking to you. Okay?

Alan Law:

And you man. Stay safe.

David Ryan:

All the best. Bye bye.

Alan Law:

Bye, dude. Bye.

***********************************************************

Thanks for listening to our interview with David Ryan! I know he probably wouldn’t want me to say it, but David really is one of the best wedding photographers in Ireland – he has a real unique style, that’s so true to him and his vision. Top work.

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Aga Tomaszek

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