Q&A with White Light
I've been wanting to feature photographers ever since this site expanded to feature models - the two go hand in hand, yet I was never able to work out the details. 2019, along with new hopes and opportunities, also brought in a wave of creative portfolios to review. I am very proud to debut the featured photographers section with the gallery of White Light, Ryan Serrano, an NYC-based photographer with a true eye for the city.
|P&F| - What is it about NYC that's so captivating?
Ryan - NYC seems to have something for every photographer. There are photographers like myself who are drawn in by the iconic landmarks: the bridges, buildings, the subway and skyline. It has landscapes and architecture both old and new, and streets rich with personality and character.
|P&F| - What are your favorite sights to capture?
Ryan - I like to capture the interaction between nature and man-made landscapes--how the light from a sunset hits a skyscraper, how the lights on the Brooklyn Bridge shine through a thick fog, how a landscape seems to vanish in the distance during a snowstorm, or how a bolt of lightning illuminates the sky above the NYC skyline.
|P&F| - There's a poetry in how you describe things that indicates the level of passion you feel towards your work. When did you first realize you wanted to become a photographer?
Ryan - As a kid, I'd get in trouble with my mom when I would come back from trips or camp with my disposable film camera, only to find that i'd only taken pictures of buildings and landscapes, but no pictures with myself in it. I took an intro to photography course in high school as an elective, and I bought my first DSLR camera soon after.
|P&F| - Which was it?
Ryan - A Canon T3 with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. I dabbled here and there with it, but still wasn't taking it too seriously. My brother, who also had a knack for photography saw what I was sharing on Instagram and liked it. He would take my camera out to go shoot and explore NYC. He encouraged me to get out there, often times with him, with the sole purpose of taking photos. I never thought about taking photography seriously until my brother did it.
|P&F| - What do you think are some of the greatest difficulties you've had to face as a photographer?
Ryan - This is a big one. Being a landscape photographer means that I rely heavily on the weather and being at the right place at the right time; I try my best to plan accordingly, but obligations such as work, family, or school get in the way sometimes and cause me to miss out on some pretty amazing photographic opportunities, such as lightning storms or fog. Relying on the weather also comes with a degree of unpredictability, which has resulted in me going out all geared up with hopes of lightning or other weather conditions, only to find myself waiting for hours outside behind my camera and tripod for nothing.
|P&F| - You're at odds against the elements! That's rough!
Ryan - That's on top of typical issues like memory card failures, people walking into frame, or issues with corrupt files - tip to all photographers, back up all your images! -on an external hard drive or a cloud storage service or both!
|P&F| - Do you often compare yourself to others?
Ryan - Sometimes I find myself looking at others' work and feeling much less skilled or accomplished in comparison. I feel like I should think of their work as inspiration and a goal, rather than discouragement, and I'm working on that. If anyone else feels this way, know you're not alone.
|P&F| - Well, I think you're being extremely modest. The range of your work is stunning and some of these shots that you've managed to pull off blow my mind. I live in Jersey, close enough to the city as I'd care to be, seen it a hundred times, and you still manage to inject enough life into your photos that makes me feel as if I'd never been there. How do you know when you've got the perfect shot?
Ryan - I know my work is complete when a photo looks like what I saw when I took it. My images may look a bit more exaggerated, saturated, or dramatic than before post-processing if the image straight out of the camera isn't quite representative of what I saw or felt.
|P&F| - Makes sense, you're not just delivering an image, but an experience! Do you have other photographers on Instagram who inspire you?
Ryan - I'm in awe and humbled by how much talent is out there. Some of my favorite landscape photographers I have discovered through Instagram are Paul Seibert (@beholdingeye), Michael Sidofsky (@mindz.eye), and Daniel Greenwood (@danielgreenwoodphotography).
|P&F| - I'll link them as well for readers to check out. Before we wrap up, I wanted to ask how you settled on the name "White Light"?
Ryan - White Light was inspired by a song my late brother introduced me to, in which the artist sings about his brother who passed away. The artist applies the metaphor of a lighthouse guiding a ship lost at sea to his late brother. My brother’s Instagram handle was inspired by a song as well, so I decided to follow in his footsteps as usual. Not only does this song hold personal significance to me, but it also works very well in the concept of photography. Photography is essentially the capture of light, and white contains all the colors in the spectrum.
"I've never even heard of Philosopher and whatever-it-was.
How am I supposed to say something about it?"
A Guy at Work - New Jersey - 6/15/18