Interview with Ryan Pramik

(Originally published on Jan 11th, 2015)

APA: Hi, please introduce yourself.

Ryan: My name is Ryan Pramik and I’m a photographer from Houston, TX. I was born in New Orleans, then moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma before settling down in Houston. I started playing around with photography when I was about 8 or 9 when my parents gave me their old film camera. It was a fun hobby I did on the side and even took up developing my own film. Then I put it down and didn’t touch it again till I was in college where I took a digital photography class and got my hands on a digital SLR and I haven’t looked back since. I still love shooting on film but there’s also a certain freedom to the digital as well and I’ve been able to push the envelope on certain things and try out new tricks in higher volumes to help push my work to higher and higher levels and that’s my current goal is to keep pushing my work, whether it be automotive or otherwise.

APA: How did you get started in photography? When did you realize that photography would be your job?

Ryan: Like I had previously mentioned I got started in photography at a young age, took a few basic classes at a camera shop to get the hang of it and to learn the basics. It wasn’t until I was in college studying Graphic Design that I had picked up the passion again for it and within the year had changed my entire outlook to something completely different and was pursuing a different career.

APA: You are specialized in automotive photography, what is the knowledge that a photographer of this kind must possess?

Ryan: Everyone’s opinion on this kind of question will range widely, but I think it is important to note that that you really won’t even get your foot in the door until you get the basics down pat. It’s important to know what an open aperture will do to a photo vs a closed aperture, slow vs fast shutter speed, and what different focal lengths will do for a photo. I would also say that having a true passion for the cars themselves can also have an impact on how you shoot them. You’re more inclined to try and catch the spirit of the car rather than just what the car looks like.

APA: Tell us the importance of post-production in automotive photography. Please share your basic workflow with us.

Ryan: The post production nowadays is one of the ways that you can really make your work stand out from others. The process of capturing the images is generally universal across the board. Where you really start to see the individual styles is the composition of the image, and even more importantly, the post work. Everything from subtle clean up to completely swapping in a different environment, every photographer has their own way or own taste of how they do it.

For me my post production vastly varies from project to project. Generally when I start a project I have an image in my head of what I want the finished product to look like which effects how I capture the raw images. Am I going to be using natural light and a reflector? or am I getting out the flashes for composites or even my led brick for light painting. Some require much more work than others, some I’ll only spend 30 to 40 minutes in post cleaning up the background, others I’ll spend 7 or 8 hours merging images together to make one finished piece.

APA: Who inspires you in automotive photography, and why?

Ryan: There’s so many great ones out there it’s hard to name them all.

Easton Chang, Tim Wallace, Joel Chan, Pepper Yandell, Andrew Link, Dale Martin, Frederic Schlosser, GF Williams, John Zhang, Ben Hosking, Andrew Thompson, way too many to name.

APA: What equipment do you use now? How much does equipment matter in automotive photography?

Ryan: I currently use primarily my Canon 5D Mk 2 with an assortment of various lenses ranging from base level EF lenses to L Glass lenses. Alot of people will use their equipment or lack thereof as a crutch and just say yeah I could do that too if I had all the stuff you do. But the reality is, my kit is incredibly simplistic.

I don’t have any formal strobes, I have 3 speed lights and a couple of different modifiers that I’ve rigged to stay on the stands and the lights to blast through. But they’re nothing fancy, a couple of old Vivtars actually. I just have had the patience to learn to work with the equipment I have. I think its going to benefit me in the long run when I am able or need to upgrade to a higher grade level of gear I’ll go through a period of adjustment but ultimately with more efficient gear it won’t really affect the quality of the photos, but simply the ease in which I take them.

APA: Could you please share some important automotive photography tips that a beginner should try?

Ryan: Don’t worry about trying to go straight for artificial lighting, starting working with natural lighting, and start simple, shoot RAW if your camera can and dont worry about getting overly fancy with editing. Start by working with learning the camera and your composition.

Also, don’t go overly snap happy, yes your memory card can hold 10,000 images, but filling it up on one car probably means you didnt spend enough time analyzing the shot and trying to make sure that the shots were actually good. Quality vs Quantity. And also, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

APA: How do you decide on the final image? Does it depend on the client you are working with or is it entirely upto you?

Ryan: Depends on the client and the project. Some clients have a very direct idea of what they want, and others only know that they want photos done and sometimes you have to pull ideas or extrapolate what they want really from the subtle or minor clues that they give you. On personal projects I generally know what the final image is going to look like in my head and the rest comes down to figureing out how to accurately capture the raw images to make it happen.

APA: Apart from the car photography what genre attracts you the most?

Ryan: That’s a tough one, I actually enjoy dabbling in many other genres, with one of my favorites being Pinup, but I’ve also recently gotten into doing more artistic or high fashion work as well. Alot of people will tell you to focus and its true, focusing can help immensely, but it sometimes also helps to change it up from time to time and do things a little differently or try a different avenue in order to help give you fresh perspective that can ultimately lead to new ideas or processes.

APA: Thank you for giving us this interview. What is your best advice to any aspiring automotive photographer?

Ryan: Don’t give up, and have thick skin. The world is quickly filling up with ‘photographers’ that are quick to knock others down but you have to remember that your work will always speak for itself. Sometimes you’ll love something you’ve done but it won’t get the reaction that you had hoped it would, and thats okay, just take the criticism as it is, criticism, and use it to develop your work and get better.

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