Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Ryan Pfluger is and an insightful artist Denny had the privledge of asking interviewing. Denny says one to watch.
Where did you grow up? When did you find your passion for photography? Where did you
I grew up in Flushing, Queens and Long Island. I always enjoyed looking at photography but didn't start photographing until about 5 years ago. I wouldn't have even called myself a photographer until about 3 years ago. I did my BFA in Photography at SUNY New Paltz and my MFA in photography at the School of Visual Arts.
The series called Not Without My Father that you did with your own father is very powerful. You mentioned an estranged relationship between the two of you through most of your childhood. I’m curious what that relationship is like now?
I'm extremely close with my father and he is probably the biggest supporter of my work. The project really brought us together and cultivated our relationship more than I think anything else ever could. To go from a non-speaking relationship to something as special as what we have now is really incredible.
How do you think being gay plays a role in your work?
It's interesting to me, because being gay definitely influences my work tremendously, but my work is about much broader topics and photography itself as a medium. Being gay is just an aspect of me, so it's just an aspect of my work. While in a lot of my portrait work the subject matter is gay men, the photographs are really about relationships in general.
What do you look for in your subjects?
I look for people who are unique. People often tell me I photograph people that look like me, and maybe it's because thats what I am initially attracted to or can relate to since most of my subjects are strangers at first that I cultivate relationships with during photographic sessions. I really can just look at someone and know whether or not they will work for me and my style in front of the camera.
If you could photograph anyone who would that be?
By far it would be Tilda Swinton.
Is Men I’ve Met an ongoing series you continue to work on?
I think it's the body of work that I will never actually stop doing. To me it's like a good beer on a hot day. It's something I always want to do but don't want to be the defining aspect of me as a photographer. Since it was the first real project I started doing, it's become rather special and nostalgic to me.
In your series About a Boy you illustrate largely with self-portraits how “young boys are programmed with ideals and activities they must strive for.” If that series were called About a Gay Boy how might it differ…if at all?
I'm not sure actually. I have never been someone who has defined himself by his sexuality. While there are definitely different issues for gay youth, there is still an ideal expected of all boys as they are growing up. Having to be a masculine man, a provider, being good at sports and so on. I think dealing with my sexuality made me just more emotional about it all. I Felt like there was something wrong with me. Thus going back and looking at my youth, the project helped me deal with certain things that I locked up for awhile.
What advice do you have for other young photographers?
Really really love what you do. There are going to be so many ups and downs along the way that you really need to be secure with yourself and your work. Things kind of fall in place when they are supposed to. I still struggle with it and I've been photographing professionally for a few years now. You always have to remember there is always another photographer who has just as much ambition as you do. You need to understand what makes your work special and really cultivate that. Also, don't be afraid of trying something outside of your comfort zone because it might become something extraordinary.
To see more of Ryan's work go to:http://www.ryanpfluger.com/portfolio/