Star of the Versace 2012 ad campaign and fellow Brit, Ryan Barrett is more than just another pretty face. With a Fine Arts degree and a passion for photography, Ryan is diversifying his brand and crafting a life on his terms. I wanted to get a man’s perspective on the female centric fashion industry in addition to discussing how his life in front of the camera informs his work behind it. Here, Ryan discusses his life and work.
How has your work as a photographer informed the way you move in front of the camera?
Being a photographer myself, you learn about light and how light is so important. On set you sometimes understand what the photographer is wanting to achieve so you naturally progress toward it. It can help a lot on a shoot knowing a few tips.
Modeling is one of the few industries where women command more money and control than men. How do you feel as a man operating in this environment?
I think it has always been a women’s market, so female models will of course be in a higher demand than men. The male market is fast growing and there are more and more male grooming products and male fashion magazines available. Now more than before, men are more aware of fashion and trends.
Hedi Slimane ushered in the waif look among male models while David Gandy went against type with his uber masculine physique. Men are increasingly being subjected to the same issues surrounding body image as women. Discuss.
One of the current trends is a more masculine aesthetic. Trends come and go so I think it’s hard to physically put pressure on your body and image like that. A healthy man is a “good-looking” man. I don’t feel there is anywhere near the same level of pressure placed on men as compared to women in the industry.
What inspires your photography and why have you explored the subjects that you have?
I have always been a creative person and very visual. I studied Fine Arts – Textiles at university. I found myself getting frustrated with not being able to be creative with all the traveling I was doing and so I turned to a more mobile medium. Photography is a great source of communication and I love to explore the boundaries of capturing the communication between model and the lens.
Inspiration comes to me in waves and although it’s hard to be inspired all the time when I’m in front of the camera it makes me want to shoot. Modeling has afforded me the ability to travel and explore all these amazing locations and that gets me excited about shoots. I usually never leave anywhere without my camera.
How have you evolved as a photographer?
If you’re not evolving as a person you’re in trouble. Particularly with fashion photography, it is important to keep up with technology and trends. I have learned a lot just watching photographers light sets and observe the techniques they use. Sometimes when I practice, I adapt what I’ve observed and incorporate it into my own techniques.
I recently looked at some of my early photographs that I shot and boy has it been a steep learning curve. The photos were overexposed and over-retouched, but this is how you learn. Learning from your mistakes, I find, is one of the best ways of learning. Sink or swim is my motto.
Working in an industry where you are in demand one day and not the next, how do you handle the rejection that is part of the territory?
You have to take the thick with the thin. You can’t be every ones cup of tea. Rejection is just part of being a model and comes with the job, but you soon grow thick-skinned.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment modeling is taking up most of my time. Long-term I would like to pursue photography more seriously and get my head stuck in to it 100 percent, but whatever I do I will keep the creative juices flowing.
What have you learned from your time modeling?
I have learned that nothing is for certain in life; it is what it is. Meeting so many different types of people all over the place you learn more about yourself and your own personality. You find out about the person you are. Modeling can also be quite lonely which in a way I kind of enjoy. I get a lot of personal work done when traveling, in fact, I’m doing this interview at 3000 feet in the air en route to Ohio.
Legendary model Iman once said, ‘Not all beautiful people are models and not all models are beautiful people’. Do you agree with her statement and why?
I completely agree with this, but I think every model is beautiful in their own individual way. It’s the photographers job to find that beauty and use it. A lot of models are not always stunning in person, but they are photogenic. Get them in front of a camera and WOW, you see the difference.
Follow him at @RyanBarrettUK