Long Overdue Update – Van Life!

I’m going to fast-foward catch you up. In 2020 I built out a Chevy Astro van, moved in, and hit the road. After a 4 month build that included a bed, mechanical work, and solar power, I’ve been experiencing the United States on my own terms.

I recently started filming the journey and publishing to YouTube. I’m having a good time laughing at myself.

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World & Color – Interview Saturdays NYC

pat schmidt. panama. travel. 120mm. film. medium format.
The following is an interview about my new personal project World & Color with Colin Tunstall of Saturdays.colin tunstall: So I’m just going to jump right into it. What’s the deal with the infrared?ryan struck: I’ve been shooting infrared film since 2012. I first saw Richard Mosse use it in the Congo. He was basically shooting conflict photos, but he was using the film as a way to humanize what was going on over there, and I was just blown away. I feel like I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from either current events or news or photojournalism, street photography, or other things like that. He’s definitely using it in a more impactful, I guess, important way to draw attention to a conflict area that a lot of us don’t really know much about. But I decided I wanted pull in slices of inspiration from that as well as put my own flare into it. I travel quite a bit shooting surf photos and meeting people, and I guess I wanted to borrow from him. I mean, he’s not the only one to do it. Jimi Hendrix had a cover shot in infrared. It’s been around, people have been using it. I just decided that it would be something cool and different, and a way for me to keep shooting things for myself. I didn’t necessarily realize what it was going to turn into, but I’m pretty happy with what I’m seeing now. It’s cool to put it all together in a collection.

skate. woman. california. infrared

ct: What’s the biggest surprise you’ve had? Because you’re shooting film and you have to wait and see what comes back. What kind of experience have you gone through playing around with this format?

rs: To begin with, it’s a pretty rare film. There’s this eccentric guy, he’s from LA, and I think he lives in Germany now. He bought the last stocks of it, and he’s been cutting this film for money. He’s just been selling it through the internet and that’s kind of how I discovered it. It was tough to get ahold of, it’s really expensive, so I just bought a few rolls and with the first roll I brought to Tahiti, I messed up half of it. I found that the experimentation process was really what was most challenging because it’s very technical. To shoot that film, you have to either have someone telling you what to do and basically trusting your own eye, or kind of just using trial-and-error. I totally just trial-and-errored it, and I wound up underexposing or overexposing everything. At one point I dropped the filter I needed in the salt water and it wound up coating it really weird. It was a frustrating but also—now that I look back on it—a fun way to bumble through trying to figure it out.

infrared. peru. santa cruz. california

ct: How is shooting with infrared different from other types of photography?

rs: For one, you can’t look at the back of the camera. It brought the excitement of photography back into what I do and the unexpected results were always the most surprising. Sometimes it changes the color of a person’s lips that makes them yellow or changes their skin tone. Or people with blonde hair, it turns that pink or purple. It’s just this very weird, trippy experience, not only as a photographer, but it’s interesting for the subject I’m shooting. That film process kind of slowed me down. I had to really understand, “Do I really want to make a picture here?” This film doesn’t exist anymore, I only get 15 shots per roll, the rolls are really expensive, to process it is really is really expensive, to scan it is really expensive. So there’s a lot at stake. It’s really a fun, zen way of observing my surroundings again, and I think as a photographer, that’s what it’s all about for me—the way I see the world and the things I choose to experience or see with my own eyes. Bringing this film to different places for me and talking to people about it really helped change my perspective when I was using it. That’s one thing I really appreciated.

california. budweiser. infrared.

ct: You’re traveling a lot. It looks like Panama, Tahiti, New York, New Jersey, Tofino, Vancouver. What’s taking you to all these places?

rs: It’s a variety of things. Sometimes I travel to LA for shoots, and I’ve been to Tofino for both work and pleasure. But it’s tough for me to relax in a sense. I don’t picture myself going to a beach and sitting there with a drink and an umbrella. I always try to find a purpose wherever I’m going. A lot times with this film, I travel for my own sake to go and make new images in a new place. Sometimes I’d be traveling and shooting for work at the same time. But I’ve found that I was most inspired when I was traveling. That’s almost cliche to say because we’re all excited when we’re going somewhere, especially somewhere new. I also shot in Harlem when I was living there. Central Park was a big part of me living in Harlem. I’m an avid runner and it felt like my little oasis in the city. It felt like a place where I can go and get that outdoor space and I can get that solitude. Even if the park’s packed, I can go through different little sections, and it’s very green and there are lots of trees, so that sparked my inspiration to shoot some of the film there. When traveling abroad, it’s a mix of both and I find that travel for me is an essential part of who I am. It does allow me to refill the inspiration bucket. It allows me to meet new people. When I travel, it’s like I’m the best version of myself. I’m a little nervous, but it’s kind of a freeing experience. When I’m home, I’m in my routine, and I feel like I know what’s going to happen, but when I’m on the road, anything can happen, and that’s the beauty of it for me.

fishing guide. kenai. alaska. portrait.

ct: A beautiful image is subjective, but with these, the colors are wild, the infrared process has a great narrative, especially with what’s left and how expensive it and the challenges of getting an image. I guess one last question would be, with your photography career, how much is surfing part of the equation?

rs: Surfing is totally an ebb and a flow for me. It’s a conversation I’ve had with my good friend Tyler. He has those same sentiments. Sometimes he’s out there ripping, and then at other times he’s saying, “Ah I just don’t feel like surfing.” Surfing’s funny like that. We can step away from it and we can also return to it too. For me, surfing and photography go hand-in-hand. I credit surfing with everything photography has brought me. I built my first portfolio on the guys I saw surfing. It’s given me everything from friends to a career. I don’t always shoot surfing for money, it’s just something I really love. It’s more of a passion, and I don’t often get hired by surf brands or within the surf industry. When we’re out there in the water, it’s the purest form of happiness, and it’s kind of like nothing else matters. You’re not thinking about anything else, you’re just in there, in the moment, riding the wave or paddling or duck diving or holding your breath. It’s all these things I think that so many people are finding in meditation, that I think as surfers, that’s something we’ve found for years now. I owe everything to surfing, I really do. As much as I’m sometimes caught up with work and I can’t get to the beach, I’ll always have surfing, I’ll always have surf photography, and I’ll always be forever grateful for it.■

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Vancouver Island, British Columbia

In October I spent two weeks shooting on Vancouver Island with the Tiny Atlas Quarterly crew. We photographed wildlife, went for nature hikes, surfed and ate fireside meals on the beach just a stone’s throw from our yurts. The highlight of the trip was shooting aerial landscapes (and a whale) from the Atleo Air helicopter. Big thanks to Fuji for sponsoring my trip!

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Heat Wave – Brooklyn, New York

I found myself walking North towards the bodega on a hot and humid afternoon in Brooklyn. Sweat clung to every inch of cotton covering my body. I saw a rushing flow of water underfoot as I stepped up the curb, and panned my head right towards its source. Abruptly pivoting 90° I found a few people from the neighborhood enjoying an open fire hydrant, spraying anyone who wanted to get wet, and sometimes playing jokes on pedestrians who tried to avoid the torrent. The cops even stopped by for a quick wash, and we sent them on their way with a small volley of water balloons. I added a few videos of the antics to my SnapChat (RyanStruckPhoto) and hung around with my camera to photograph the fun.

My portfolio can be seen at RyanStruck.com

brooklyn neighborhoodbrooklyn lifestylenypd squad car lifestyle new york policeopen fire hydrant summer lifestyle city new york brooklyn water baloonsresidents in brooklyn open up a fire hydrant to cool down during a new york heatwaveman street photographer new york brooklyn lifestylebrooklyn new york lifestyle street photographerfriends lifestyle street brooklyn new yorknew york heat wave

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Reilly Stone – Addicted to the Glide

I’m happy to share a short film I shot and directed in Santa Cruz about a longboarder named Reilly Stone. I’ve been hanging with the Stone family for a few years now; staying with them in Northern California is usually the highlight of my time in the Golden State. In February I flew to the West Coast to escape the cold winter of New York and make some personal work in film. I’ve told a bit of Reilly’s story through still images and writing, and I thought it was time to make a video showing his surfing prowess, but to also give viewers a feel for who he is as a person.

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Dream Travel to Iceland

Most winters I’m lucky that my work takes me to warm locales such as California and Hawaii. And when work isn’t calling, I am booking my own flights somewhere with warm lighting and gorgeous light. Working as a local in Los Angeles has it’s perks (escaping Brooklyn’s cold winter). When A travel deal popped up to Iceland in December, the start of a NY winter, without hesitation I booked my tickets.

It has been a dream of mine to see the Northern Lights. While in Alaska’s Denali National Park in 2014 I was hiking, camping and photographing grizzlies. Each night we made camp, waited for total darkness and each night… it rained. After spending 4 nights rained out without getting the chance to see the clear skies lighting up with the aurora’s brilliance, I knew I needed a redo.

If you’re after this wonderful natural sight too, and are headed to Iceland, I have a few suggestions for you. Check out the weather radar and make sure you are aiming for clear skies. Leave the comfort of the busy cities and let darkness settle in. A great resource for the Northern Lights Forecast can be found here and for finding dark skies check out this link. That’s your basic formula for seeing this indescribable beauty. I was there in March and full darkness occurred around 10:30 pm, so make sure you have a thermos full of hot tea or coffee cause you have to be a night owl to witness it.

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Sayulita, Mexico

In February I flew to Santa Cruz, California to film a short piece on Reilly Stone, an up and coming longboarder. We shot in Santa Cruz and the surrounding areas as Reilly spoke to me about waves, family and his aspirations. His surfing is a treat and truly special when filmed from the water. We had a blast! That video will be released in the coming weeks.

From California we headed to Sayulita, Mexico where Reilly surfed in an international longboard competition. Mexico was filled with music, local culture and of course tacos. Here are a few still images I captured along the way and a few more can be seen on my Instagram: @RyanStruck

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Lilly Pulitzer – Underwater Filmmaking

This year has been a off to a great start for my work in filmmaking. I have a lot to catch you all up on here, but I’ll start with the Lilly Pulitzer videos I helped out with in January, shot on location in the Florida Keys. Friends of mine at the production company One Thousand Percent hired me to operate the camera underwater for a few scenes. I was really excited to work alongside some of my favorite people on such a fun and interesting job. Check out the underwater slices added to the videos below!

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Rent Asbury Park Commercial

2016 has started with bang! I’m happy to share a commercial I directed and produced for the launch of RentAsburyPark.com, now live! The two minute lifestyle video needed to represent the demographic of new renters in the city of Asbury Park, New Jersey a.k.a. “Brooklyn by the Beach.” As a former Asbury resident, I was ecstatic to direct a video depicting what there is to do in town while keeping true to Asbury’s beach and artsy vibes. Scenes were inspired by my Asbury Park adventures with friends including some of my favorite places to go. We rode bikes to the beach and got coffee, as well as shopped and dined on Cookman Ave. Recently named one of the top 10 places to live by Travel + Leisure Magazine, Asbury Park is fast becoming New Jersey’s premiere destination.

Big thanks to my entire crew for helping everything run smoothly, and so happy RentAsburyPark.com is over the moon with the outcome. Below you’ll find some behind the scenes photos.

Indoor locations in appearance are: Cafe Volan, Red Moon, and The Bonney Read. Thanks for opening your doors and businesses to serve as iconic Asbury locations.

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Surfing in the Snow

For the past 6 years I’ve been fascinated with cold water surfing. The frigid Atlantic along the Jersey Shore where I cut my teeth swimming my camera in the dead of winter often before, during and after a heavy blizzard. Donning a 5 mil wetsuit, hood, gloves and boots I’ve swam my camera in water as cold as 36 degrees and windchill as frigid as below zero. When ducking underwater as a set approaches, a dull ice cream headaches creeps into your eyelids and settles into your forehead. Take a bad enough beating from a heavy wave and your cognition fades ever so slightly. Documenting the sport of surfing in wintertime has been an incredible experience where I’ve made friends, celebrated waves and pursued my passion on my own terms.

Please see my entire Surf Portfolio here: RyanStruck.com

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