JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
RYAN LOEWY: I initially wanted to be a plumber like my father. Then I wanted to be a wrestler, then a professional rollerblader, then a musician. I had a lot of hopes and dreams that never really came to fruition now that I think of it, ha.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
RL: It’s a variety of things, from the more direct influence of music, cinematography and other artists that are producing content, to indirect things like human interactions and poses that I might randomly see while I’m in public. I am continuously inspired by people like Chris Buck, Greg Miller, Dan Winters, Melissa Butler and Irving Penn. They all have established voices in their work and there’s a craft to what they do. It’s really easy to get lost among who makes what these days, so I feel like I have an identity is super important, among other things. But that’s just me. Oh I really love Nic Refn too.
I think one driving force behind my work though, really, is the idea of vulnerability. My aim with my portraits usually is to find the vulnerability in whomever I am photographing. I don’t do this just for the sake of creating an interesting image, but because I’d like to believe that we all have our own vulnerabilities and sort of, internal struggles, so it brings a sort of comfort I guess.
JC: What are you up to right now?
RL: Trying to find a day job while promoting my new portfolio to photo editors and other creatives.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way
RL: Yes. In addition to being best friends with one of my favorite photographers (Melissa), Greg Miller and Chris Buck both generously gave me time to give their two cents on my work, so that was neat. And I had some good teachers while I was at SVA like Jerry Vezzuso and Abby Robinson, who really helped me with my self portraiture work. And I interned for Ryan Pfluger for a bit and he showed me a lot about the editorial world that I otherwise probably wouldn’t be aware of. So I have had a good deal of people give me guidance.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
RL: I’m living at home in Connecticut and it definitely isn’t the most convenient place. It makes things harder, but also in turn, it is a test to see as to whether or not I can sustain myself outside of NYC, which a lot of photographers do, it is just, you know, hard. NYC isn’t too far way from me though, so I have made due with the cards I’ve been dealt.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
RL: Get out, intern, get to know people. Utilize your time that you have while you are still in school to focus 110% on photography. Figure out what it is that drives you to make images, and continue to make them. Figure out your intent, ask yourself why you are making these images and if they are worth showing. I’ve seen countless people graduate from school and give it 6 months, then quit. For what? Dude you just spent $150K on a degree in a career that you only gave 6 months out of school to develop. Not everyone is going to hit it big when the first graduate. Too many people think that if they don’t hit it big at first, they’re some sort of failure. We have this ridiculous expectation of success and it fucks people up. Additionally, I’ve learned that it isn’t one thing that will essentially lead to one’s success, everyone has their own route and for some it takes longer than others.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
RL: There isn’t a plan B. I’ve already worked the shittiest jobs in the world to continue to do what I love, if I have to continue to do that for the rest of my life, then that’s what I’ll do. But there isn’t a plan B. A plan B means I’m giving up and really, I can’t do that after all I’ve put myself through.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
RL: To a certain extent, yes. If you’re talking about a creative community that keeps you grounded by giving you honest critique, then absolutely. If it is just a group of people that photograph in a similar manner but only compliment each other? Then no.