For the new issue of our Printed Pages magazine, longtime friend of the site Ryan Hopkinson worked with set designer Sarah Parker to create a brilliant series of still-lifes based on synaesthesia, a condition where senses become mixed up and people see or taste certain words and numbers. In truth it was a miracle that Ryan managed to squeeze us in, so in-demand is he for both film and photography work. With a raft of new updates, we sat down with Ryan to talk to him in a bit more detail…
It’s been a few years since we interviewed you Ryan so what are the big changes in your world since we last spoke?
I think I was still assisting then so lots has changed! I signed for White Lodge and Blink Art which has been a huge step up. With Blink I was the first photographer they took on so I am a bit of a guinea pig but it is so exciting to be surrounded people who I really respect like Carl Burgess, Alex Turvey and Lernert + Sander.
You’ve started doing more film work yourself as well, do you see yourself as a photographer or a director?
I am lucky enough that when I have an idea I can fit it into either film or photography and it’s really nice to be able to flick between both. It’s a really interesting time for me getting approached to do both. I’m really interested in campaigns bringing together stills and film; I’ve got a job coming up for Sony which combines both.
But I still struggle with calling myself a director. I know the amount of work that goes into being a director; it’s a name that comes with weight and history and shouldn’t be thrown around. So I still feel a bit uneasy with that word.
You work quite a lot with brands – how do you find that creative process?
I like to think about brands in a different way and bring an approach that you would not expect. It’s such an honour to be given creative freedom by a brand like we got with Chivas. I think though brands are going down that route more and more, really trusting the creators.
It’s really exciting bringing a brand into a creative place and it becomes more about a good idea than a certain bottle or a phone. With Chivas we used real whiskey in the films and it was really interesting to play around and experiment with it.
How important do you think an element of play is in creating great creative work?
That is early important in all my work. I always try to leave a little bit of room to be able to make a mistake or create something that was not originally planned. It’s really key to have that breathing space and sometimes that is where you get your best work, not always when things are meticulously planned.
And is it important to keep up your personal projects?
Absolutely. I do not like to sit around and wait for brands sitting on ideas and they help garner attention which leads to commercial work. When you have an idea you really love, you need to do it, to get it out of your system. That happened with the Tornados series for example. When your explore your own ideas in projects they are the ones which really push you along, and they are the ones I really enjoy talking about in portfolio reviews.
The Tornado series is going on sale at Colette soon which is such an honour – I don’t even mind if I don’t sell any!
As you become more in-demand how do you deal with the increased pressure?
I always try to better my last project, to make sure I have learned something. I don’t feel competitive pressure – that pressure comes from myself. That’s one of the reasons I really love helping young photographers and doing talks at art schools. The photographers like Lacey I worked with were so helpful and one of the first things I was ever told was “When you are ready, pass it on.” So that’s what I try to do rather than thinking that everyone is going to steal my ideas. I believe 100 per cent that the industry is all about new blood.