Capturing real life moments is what Ryan’s DCMetroPeople project is all about. It takes guts to take photographs of people in a visible environment. Ryan Reed is a master at being stealthy and hidden from the subjects view as he commutes daily on the DC Metro.
Q: Tell me about yourself? Where are you from?
A: I am originally from Salisbury, Md. and now reside in Washington, D.C. I graduated from Towson University as a journalism and new media major. I have two main hobbies: photography and soccer.
Q: What does iPhoneography mean to you?
A: To me, iPhoneography means no limitations. The apps allow you to achieve whatever look you want without the need of multiple lenses. The size of the phone allows you to take photos that might be difficult or impossible (or awkward in my case) with a DSLR.
Q: How did you get into iPhoneography?
A: The first app that I downloaded was the CameraBag app. Prior I just took photos with the camera but that app opened my eyes to what is possible with the iPhone. The filters are preset so there isn’t too much creativity involved but it opened the door to what is possible with iPhoneography.
Q: Can you recall the first iPhoto you took that made you go WOW I really got something here!?
A: I remember eating at this pizza place in Baltimore, Md. and above the table I was at was this cool light fixture. While waiting for my food I pulled my phone out and snapped a photo of it. I processed the photo through CameraBag and ended up with this simple, yet fun photo that people really enjoyed looking at.
Q: Do you have any formal training regarding photography?
A: I took a photography class in college. My teacher was amazing and not only taught me how to use the gear required but also what makes a strong photo. Our assignments varied from sports to features to news.
Q: Why choose to capture people of the DC Metro? How did this clever idea come about?
A: DC Metro People started from me realizing that my Camera Roll was quickly filling up with photos of people riding the metro. I would just take photos of people to pass the time. After processing them through TiltShift Generator I realized how good they looked and started showing friends and family. Then a friend suggested I start a blog and that’s just what I did.
Q: Who or what are your artistic influences?
A: Visually, I am influenced by anything that is unique and makes me think. I am a fan of modern art mostly. I would say that my biggest artistic influence comes from music. While taking photos I always listen to music and it sets the mood for what I want to capture. Bands I listen to frequently are The National, Bloc Party, The Beatles, Arcade Fire and Radiohead.
Q: What has been the some of the challenges of using the iPhone as a camera?
A: I haven’t run into any challenges of using the iPhone as a camera. It actually works for me perfectly as I am able to capture people as they are. They aren’t “acting” for the camera. If I had to pick one though I would say the quality of photo. Some turn out a bit grainy but I sort of like that look. The ability to load the camera is also a challenge sometimes. For every good photo you see on DC Metro People, there are countless amazing photos I miss because I’m not quick enough to open the camera app.
Q: Can you take us through what’s going on in your head when your looking for a subject on the Metro? How do you go unnoticed? How do you position yourself for the shot?
A: So when I enter a car I try to pick out a place to stand where people won’t be too close to me and able to see the screen. I rarely sit down as that limits me to what I can shoot. I look for people who seem to be in their own little world. I have a few techniques. Sometimes I’ll hold my phone to my chest, look the other way and hit the shutter without seeing what’s in the frame (that’s what I did for “Scary as Fuck”). Another technique is to shoot from the hip. I find this useful when people are really close. I point the screen towards the ground and tilt the camera towards them and hit the shutter (that’s what I did for “Stop and smell the flowers”). When no one is nearby I can actually frame the photo properly but I would say 85% of the photos on the site I was not looking at the screen when it was shot.
Q:I have only seen your work in B&W. Do you shoot with an app like Vintage B&W or the just the regular iPhone camera and later post process them into B&W? Why no color?
A: I shoot B&W because I feel that best captures the mood of the metro. It’s the way I like to see the metro. I find the DC subway system to be so visually appealing and the B&W really brings that out. I think if my photos were in color they wouldn’t have the same impact. I shoot the regular iPhone camera and post process to B&W.
Q: What have you learned from becoming a people watcher on your daily Metro photo ops?
A: I learned that people should take the time to observe their surroundings. So many people, especially in DC, are so wrapped up in the trivial aspects of their life that they don’t think to observe what’s going on around them. Life throws so many beautiful moments your way and if you’re busy emailing on your Blackberry you’ll miss them.
Q: What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction from people to your iPhotographs?
A: The most surprising reaction I’ve had was someone tweeted that they want me to capture them riding the metro. The most predictable reaction is the questions, “Have you been caught” and “do they know you’re taking their photo.”
Q: What’s in your iPhone camera bag (apps)? Which one do you currently use the most often?
A: My iPhone camera bag consists of Best Camera, TiltShift Generator, Hipstamatic, PS Mobile, Photogene, ColorSplash and CameraBag. I use TiltShift Generator most often because it allows me to focus on the person I am looking at and blur out the rest, making the viewer of my photo see exactly what I see.
Q: What other thoughts would you like to share?
A: Lastly I would like to say that you don’t need fancy equipment to capture life’s little moments. All you need is your imagination. iPhoneography allows everyone to be a photographer and that is a powerful thing.
All images shown here are copyrighted property of Ryan Reed/DCMetroPeople, please contact Ryan for copyright privileges.
© 2010 iPhoneogenic