Since graduating from Parsons the New School for Design last year, Brooklyn-based photographer Ryan James Caruthers has garnered a steady stream of press coverage which earlier this month culminated in a spot in this year’s BJP Breakthrough Awards for his series Tryouts which won the Graduate Series award. “It was incredible to win an award like that, especially due to the personal context of the work. I’m very appreciative,” Ryan tells us.
Inspired by “my lack of involvement in sports while growing up”, Tryouts takes a closer look at traditional renderings of masculinity, performed in the wrestling ring, weight room, dance studio and swimming pool by a less-than-conventional cast of unnaturally flushed, achingly-thin adolescent boys. It’s a series which drips with the sweat of male vulnerability, tying the fine lines between “homosexuality, athleticism, and masculinity” together with all the nuance of an Evelyn Waugh novel.
Newly turned 23, the photographer’s richly lit, deeply evocative work belies its creator’s youth. “I started drawing at a young age, and it was my main passion until I was thirteen or so. I began shooting self portraits shortly after,” Ryan tells us. With his inspiration located in “a lot of different genres and locations from Tom Ford’s directorial debut A Single Man to Nina Simone’s Wild is The Wind,” Ryan’s confession that “I’m usually drawn to things that carry heavy emotive qualities” is less of a secret than a fact.
Whether he’s busy shooting editorial for Dazed, Coeval, FY!, New York Magazine or slower, lingeringly sensual work for his Diary, Ryan tells us that “my process usually is catered towards the type of work I’m creating,” describing longer term projects as “heavily research based”. For now, Ryan is focusing on a rich roster of projects. “I’m in a few different group shows this year in New York and LA, and working on a few projects that will come out before the end of the year,” Ryan says. “I am also the co-editor in chief and art director of a new print publication launching in July titled Close with my good friend and stylist Shawn Lakin.”