Ryan Neilan talks about the freeing experience of film
Deep blacks, blown highlights, contrast heavy. Heavily influenced by the Are-Bure-Boke style from Japan, Ryan Neilan’s images are often out of focus, blurry and feature lots of heavy grain. Having shot his first roll of film back in 1999, Neilan would take pictures of his friends’ band playing in a local community center. And as he would describe it, the process of knowing how to obtain a good image got him hooked and he has been doing photography ever since. He shares his experience of changing 100% back from digital to analog and how Leica has played a key role in this unraveling process.
What approach do you take with your photography or what does photography mean to you?
I’ve always enjoyed art and music, but I have never been able to draw, to really learn an instrument well. It just didn’t click with me. But when I look at a picture, a good photograph, there’s just a feeling you get. It just clicks. I’m sure it’s the same for guitarists and painters, they just have a connection with that art form. For me it just happens to be photography.
My approach is perhaps a little different to most. I shoot film and shoot a lot of film. I shot forty rolls in five days in Tokyo. When I go out to shoot I walk quickly. I like to move quickly through the streets and people. I stop for a split second to press the shutter, barely breaking stride before moving on. I rarely talk to the people I photograph, usually I’m long gone before they have a chance to react. I can easily shoot three to five rolls in an hour and thanks to the 35mm I’m trying to get closer as I shoot.
I have stopped going out to randomly shoot as I used to and am now really focusing on projects. After the Tokyo project, my next project is based in Ho Chi Minh City. The images you see of the city are usually the over done, overly pretty tourist shots. I don’t think anyone has ever really shot this city in this darker black and white style before. I have another project in the works on the growing hardcore punk music scene that is growing here in Saigon.