Photography can be a career and a personal pursuit at the same time. It's that fluidity that makes it both a tool and a vessel for self-expression. Ryan Scott Graham of Albany-based band State Champs uses it for the latter. He brings with him his film camera whenever he's out making music and touring with his bandmates all over the country. As a matter of fact, he also uses the little breaks in his music life to get inspired even more — taking photos that turn into memories he can always go back to. After all, experiences are best relived with a little help from photographs. It's like taking out a piece of the moment and storing it in a 35 mm film frame.
Hi Ryan! Welcome to Lomography Magazine. Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Ryan Scott Graham, originally from a little suburb outside Detroit, Michigan but now I’m living in Los Angeles. I’m 29 years old I and have a love for music, film photography, and fashion. I’m a vintage t-shirt enthusiast, I play in 2 bands full-time and I love to take photos of moments I deem worth remembering.
How did you first discover your interest in film photography?
I initially got into film photography on tour as a way to explore a creative avenue that I didn’t have much experience in. Traveling as much as I do with State Champs just seemed to pair perfectly with photography. With innumerable exposure to new things, new people and new places, I asked myself why I wasn’t taking advantage of the unique opportunity I had been given to catalog the experiences. I grabbed a simple point-and-shoot camera at a thrift store and dove in. Without any knowledge of photoshop or editing software, I liked the mantra of film photography with a sort of being a ‘what you see is what you get’ art.
You are on the road a lot with your band State Champs. What is your favorite thing about traveling and how does it inspire your work?
The stories that come along with traveling have always been what drives me. I’m someone who cherishes the experiential aspect of life, so to have the chance to essentially get paid to do what I love professionally is such an absurd concept. I’m extremely grateful. There’s no saying how much touring influences and inspires my work. Not only is it the reason I even began in the first place, but it’s also the vehicle to capture the moments I do. The newness of each day and the adrenaline rush of each new place pushes me to want to experience it fully. I can’t leave the venue or hotel without a camera now.
What is your favorite Lomography product and why?
Truthfully, the only Lomography product I have personal experience with is the Lomochrome Purple. I love film because of the potential for charming irregularity in each photo, and I think Lomochrome Purple captures that really well. It takes your photos and flips them on their head in a way that not even you can prepare yourself for. It’s a way to make something that’s already fun even more so.
Pick a photo and tell us the story behind it.
I took this photo on the last day of a trip to Japan. My flight was around 4 pm and I didn’t have enough time to make any real plans for that day, so I decided to wake up early and just explore. I ended up in a neighborhood I had never been to, which was full of tiny back alleys and interesting people playing outside. After eating lunch, I walked straight into a scene that felt like something out of a movie. A woman was riding her bike just past the clearing between two buildings and I happened to catch it out of the corner of my eye. For whatever reason, it felt so joyful to me.
There was a certain sense of mystery behind it all, even though it was really just an ordinary, everyday activity. It moved me so greatly that I decided to wait there to see if I could nail a shot of another person riding by. Lucky for me, it didn’t take long. Within the next two or three minutes, another person came by and I took this shot. The framing isn’t perfect, but I love the outcome. I look back on this photo and this day very fondly.
What is special about shooting film to you?
I think the sense of nostalgia that film creates is a massive reason why it’s so special to me. I’m a sucker for a good story, and shooting film inspires me to not only continue telling mine, but making new ones. Film forces you to be more intentional, and once you get the hang of that, you can turn ordinary instances into magical moments.
We would like to thank Ryan for letting us feature his images on the Magazine. If you're interested in his work, you may follow him on Instagram and for more.