We’re meeting Ryan spontaneously, on a rainy day in a coffee shop in Berlin. He’s here to visit the city, on his way to Paris. We’re talking about travelling, cities and their colours, how he started photography and how giraffes manage being elegant and clumsy at the same time.
First things first, he tells us about his impressions of Berlin, our lovely capital and home of PICKMOTION. His impressions, but also his surprise. “It’s really cool. Very different and not what I thought it would be like – I didn’t think it would be this modern. There’s a lot of modern architecture and I kinda thought it would be more like an old-school town. I saw pictures of different German cities and they were all, like, old and sort of dark or at least with dark architecture. That’s what I expected here but it’s nothing like that. Everything is very colourful!”
Ryan is working full time as the resident director of a school in Rome. Yet, every other day he finds the time to wander through the city, soaking in the atmosphere, taking photos. That’s just what he does in every city he’s visiting. Street art, doors, architecture, cars, coffee shops – those are the recurring motifs on his feed @neevenr. Especially architecture. “I don’t know what it is but I love architecture. Thinking back, I wish I went to school for architecture. Architecture and photography.” His favourite architect is Zaha Hadid, he admires her kinetic modern approach and how she mastered it to implement it in the old, historical Italian style.
Just recently, he started doing street photography, too. “It’s a new thing I’m doing because before, I was kind of afraid to shoot people. I feel like shooting people on the streets is scary because you never know how they react. I try to catch them in motion, to have them not even noticing that I’m taking their picture.” One of these pictures even was bought by vsco for one of their newer pre-sets. “I was really excited. That’s the only app I use to post on Instagram, so much easier and quicker than Lightroom. And it keeps everything consistent.”
His two big passion – photography and travelling – unquestionably seem to be intertwined. In fact, a trip abroad even was the starting point for him to get into photography. “I worked on a men’s wear magazine, in fact I helped starting it with three other guys. My first big, big thing for this magazine was going to the Dominican Republic for a press trip and they were just like, ‘Ok, get a camera and get ready to go’ and I just said, ‘I don’t have a camera’. So… I had to get a camera and my whole job on the trip was to take pictures. It was the most amazing – free – trip of my life!” While back then it was mainly fashion photography he did, now, his thing is undoubtedly travel photography. “I just wanna travel everywhere and see everything. And take pictures of everything”, he says. His favourite photo is one he took while on a trip as well, from Lago di Braies last fall.
Clearly, getting into photography also changed the way he travels nowadays. “Before I started photography, I would never just wander around. I would just go where I need to be and that’s it. Now, if there’s a backstreet that looks cool, I take the backstreet. Like today – I knew where I wanted to get to, but I just took different ways and backstreets to get there. If you walk different ways, you see things you would otherwise never see. To take the metro or subway or whatever, that’s the easy way but you see so much less. And you’d never realise how much you miss out on.”
Since he moved to Europe, he has seen quite a bit of it. Though sometimes, he says, it’s hard to decide whether he should travel more throughout the continent or explore more of Italy first. However, one of his projects, @doorsofitaly, is a good reason for him to see more of his current home country. “My goal is to create a coffee table book of doors of Italy. That’s why I’m trying to get to see all the different parts of Italy. I’m close to seeing almost all the different regions of Italy and I think I need to hit at least all the regions for it to be considered a doors-of-Italy-book. I have too many pictures of Rome, Florence and Milan but I have to show the whole country. Otherwise, I feel like I can’t do it justice. That’s why I keep travelling.”
When he’s not busy travelling or working, he likes to just sit in coffee shops, people-watching. Ryan is a big coffee lover. Whether it’s an espresso, a mocha or a good pour-over – there’s no coffee he wouldn’t try and doesn’t love. Hence, we were hardly surprised when telling us about another dream of his. “I think a goal in my life is to have a coffee shop. To own it and to be able to style it my own way. I really wanna do an all black-and-white-themed coffee shop. Like everything inside is just black-and-white. Very modern. I don’t know why but I just thought of this one time, started sketching ideas. I think it would be really cool to do.”
When browsing through his feed, one might notice how it looks almost mono-chromatic at times – with a changing colour palette whenever he travels somewhere new. “It’s strange, I feel like Rome has its own colour palette. You go to Florence and it has entirely different colours. Every city has its own colour. Rome is characterised by orangy and reddish tones, Florence is very yellow. I don’t know why but I look at all the architecture and they are all the same or similar colours. It’s really cool to see.” His favourite Italian city is Milan. We’re asking him what colour he’d ascribe Milan. “Grey. It’s a more modern city and has more modern stuff.” The place he always visits when in Milan? Bar Luce, designed by director Wes Anderson.
Ryan grew up in Boston, studied International Business and Marketing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since August 2017 he lives in Rome, the city of gods, history and architectural beauty. Whether he’ll ever go back to the States? Maybe, one day. But why stress about the future? “I’m spontaneous, I can’t plan long-term. I’m often very last minute on things but usually everything works out just fine.”
Some of his favourite Instagrammers are @salvalopez (“a lot of architecture which is amazing”), @brahmino (“such good photography”) and @tedgushue with all his great car and travel photography. Ryan also enjoys the @type7 account: “It’s everything I love on one Instagram page: Architecture, Porsches and very cool art installations.”
His advice for other photographers? “I hate saying this but stay off the beaten path, stay away from all of the touristy spots and just wander on your own. You find so many different and unique things.”