I met Kristen Ryan at the Creative Seascape workshop she taught for Samy’s Camera & Photo School. I learned that over the past ten years, Kristen has taught workshops and Capture Magic retreats that fill up within minutes of being announced. I wanted to find out more about Kristen’s ultra-popular female-focused photographic workshops and how she balances her life as a mom with her career in landscape art photography.
What enticed you to run the capture magic retreats and when did you start the workshops?
In 2014, I began teaching landscape photography classes with Click Community to a wonderful group of women. I realized that there was a need for more female-based photography workshops. Click Community’s forum had brought many women together and I thought it would be beneficial to cultivate this community.
I held my first workshop in the Grand Teton National Park in 2017 and realized that what I had created was more than a workshop. It was a way for women to connect while creating something they share a passion for. Capture Magic Retreats have become a space where women can build friendships while capturing landscape images in nature. There is intimacy in the experience of being with a group of women that breaks many out of their comfort zone.
How do you maintain the balance between motherhood and photography?
My husband has always encouraged me to do something that is fulfilling and keeps my creative spark going. I do question at times if I am making the right choices when placing my efforts into something other than my family. I am fortunate my husband is supportive of my photographic endeavors and helps maintain the balance on the home front.
Photography has been a gratifying outlet for me during this period of my life. It is creative, technical, and challenging while also keeping me connected to other like-minded people. Capturing landscape imagery helps get me out into nature, which has always been my happy place. I am fortunate to have found an artistic outlet that inspires me, but my family always comes first.
How were you first introduced to landscape photography?
I have always loved photography and shooting artistic imagery. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a camera by my side ready to shoot my friends and family. I first embarked on a black-and-white film development class when I was in college.
About a decade ago after my twins were born, I started to feel that I needed a creative outlet outside of the home. I found a local class that taught me the basics of how to use my camera. That lead me to Click Community (previously known as Clickin Moms), an online forum for photographers and specialized courses. I delved into lighting, post-processing, and composition courses. From there I self-taught myself the ins and outs of the landscape photography art world.
Where do you get your landscape photography inspiration?
I truly love nature and everything it has to offer. Nature is my happy place for landscape pictures and retreats. I am fascinated by the way mother nature brings us pockets of light, mist, fog, and other elements. Creating photographic images organically inspires and drives me to achieve images I don’t always expect to encounter.
I am intrigued by genuine people moments. Capturing emotional, real moments of someone’s experience moves me. Moments that speak to me as they are happening. I am also motivated by cityscapes and appreciate the broader view of a city for artistic imagery. My favorite mission is to grab my camera and once I am out in the world, let what is right in front of me…speak to me
What stands out in your photography and teaching career?
Having the opportunity to make meaningful connections and help others capture their artistic visions through photography. The friendships and bonds through creativity that come out of the retreats and workshops are gratifying. Being able to get out into nature and shoot landscape photography has impacted me at this point in my life.
Any words to enlighten up-and-coming photographers?
Embrace being in the moment and remember that the experience is the most important part of the photographic journey. Go out to experience nature and whatever it brings. Being open to seeing what’s in front of you, instead of pre-motivated ideas of what you think you should be seeing.
What are your upcoming workshops and projects on the horizon?
I hold six workshops per year in the Grand Tetons, Hilton Head, Glacier National Park, Chicago, and Banff. I also cultivate Women Capture Magic, an online female photographer’s community, and have plans to publish a follow-up coffee table book to 2021’s Chasing Magic in the near future.
Chasing Magic is a collaborative photography book that features magical moments through natural world images. I put this project together with Amy Miller and Megan Arndt during the pandemic. Amy was extremely instrumental in the design and layout of the book. We wanted to create a book that featured female landscape photographers’ images from around the world. We chose 136 images from hundreds of submissions from the Women Capture Magic community and published a coffee table book that celebrates nature.
A Few Last Words with Kristen Ryan
Spending time getting to know Kristen was an enlightening and motivating conversation. Her love of landscape art photography was apparent through her celebrated images and her enthusiastic demeanor when discussing photography. She has found the ultimate balance between enriching her creativity and encompassing her love of family. As we wrapped up Kristen shared with me that not only is she inspired by nature, but also by the relationships she has formed with others who share the same passion for photography.