Ryan Spencer, backside 5-0. Photo: Sam Muller
((F)) Stop: Photography Interview with Ryan Spencer
TC:Recently Sam Muller launch a photography website and I noticed several photos of you on there. How did you guys start shooting together?
RS: I met Sam via the internet through some skate photography websites around 2005. We continually emailed back n forth and sent each other photos back n forth, talking about photography and skating. In 2007 when I moved out to California, he was one of the first dudes I met up with and hung out with. I shot a lot of skating photos then and eventually I just found myself skating more than shooting photos. So me and Sam have gone back pretty far and he's one of my absolute best friends now.
Backside Disaster. Photo: Sam Muller
TC: I've been seeing 35mm prints popping up on your Instagram lately. What got you into shooting film and what camera have you been shooting with?
RS: I've shot photos my whole life. My mom gave me her camera when I was 12 and I blew threw a roll of film in an hour. She got bummed that I shot a roll that fast but I was instantly addicted. When I got the photos back, I thought it was cool how I had this photo of a split second in time and that moment doesn't and will never exist again.
Then in 2007 I moved to California and went to art school for photography which kind of burnt me out. I stopped shooting and at the same time things were happening with skating, so I was really focused on that. After selling all my cameras and not shooting for a couple years, I started to shoot and be a lot more excited about it again.
Lately I've been shooting with a T2. It's a rad, simple little camera with an amazing lens. For a while I was so focused on the technical aspect of photography, but the T2 really let's you somewhat forget about that and just be submersed in a moment and it becomes a extension of you. You don't think as much and just act on intuition.
TC: Do you have any other favorite cameras to shoot with?
RS: I had a Fuji GF670 at one point which was an epic camera but I had to sell it shortly after I got it to pay some bills and whatnot. So as of now I just have a Contax T2 and a Nikon FE
TC: What are the different elements in photography that inspire you to shoot? Is it composition? Moments captured?
RS: Both do for sure. The moment and the emotions are what really matters the most. But to be able to see those and capture them when they happen and to be able to intuitively compose in a moments notice is what makes a great photographer.
TC: What is it that you enjoy about Muller's skate and/or traditional photography? Does he have a unique approach?
RS: Sam has always been pinnacle. He's inspired me a ton just being friends with him. He just has a unique style to himself and he always goes above and beyond to get the photo right. Those photographers that you can tell who shot it as soon as you see the photo, those are the legendary dudes.
FS Pivot, Photo: Muller
TC: Any particular photo mission that you two have been in that developed into a sketchy situation?
RS: Haha, Sam almost got maced by a security guard at a spot once. Other than the usual bullshit you deal with when skating, I can't recall anything gnarly.
TC: Any photographers that have had a big influenced on you?
RS: Growing up I was focused on shooting skateboarding, so dudes like Oliver Barton, John Bradford, Brian Gaberman I really loved. Outside of skateboarding, Alec Soth, Martin Parr, Alex Webb, Mike Brodie, Wolfgang Tillmans are a few dudes I really like. Ryan Mcginley is really rad as well.
TC: Among your photos you've shot, which one is your favorite? Why?
RS: I don't think I have any real favorites or I haven't shot it yet. Maybe in a few years I'll have a series or project as a whole that I'll favor.
TC: And Muller's? Any favorites of his?
RS: I really like the ones he's shot of friends of ours. There's a photo of our friend Elliot in Hawaii, in the back of a truck holding a case of beer that I really like. Also, some portraits of our friend Adrian. Skating wise he shot a photo of our other friend David Bowens, doing a switch back tail on this hubba that is amazing.
TC: Tell us a little of back story behind a recent favorite photo you've shot.
RS: We've been working on this interview for Transworld and during that I made these plans to meet him at a spot at a certain time. Me and Barnett get there and Sam is lagging cause he was raging the night before. I start trying the trick any ways and about 40 minutes into trying he finally shows up. Starbucks in hand, jammin' to some shitty top 40s music and gets set up. I ended up landing it like the 3rd try he was shooting. We made fun of him being a big time Hollywood photographer. Haha, he just rolls up after the hard set up work is done and gets the shot and he's out. I love him.
TC: Any photo projects in the works for yourself?
RS: I have a few ideas I'd like to carry out one day. Mainly I'm trying to do a series on Hawaii; life growing up there as it really was and not how the post cards depict it. Other than that just keep documenting my life and the lives I come in contact with.
For more photos shot by Ryan, follow in on Instagram: @rspence
Follow Sam Muller on Instagram: @sammuller
Vist Sam's website at: sammuller.com
Interview by Tyler Culbertson
Posted January 14th, 2014 by Tyler Culbertson