THE ART OF STORY TELLING
Ryan Cheng, a Melbourne based photographer, is telling stories through images in the most melodious way.
Here is his story....
Once upon a time...
It all started 23 years ago in Singapore. Life began as it would any other child, but at 10 years old Ryan Cheng was on a plane to a new place that he would call home: Melbourne, Australia.
Thirteen years on, with an honours degree attached to his name, Ryan is a traveller, an explorer, a story teller, a vlogger and a blogger... Ryan Cheng is a photographer. Ryan started using his creative abilities as a child, writing about anything he could, "but when you grow up in Singapore 'the arts' are frowned upon, as expected in an Asian country that's trying to grow" he explains. So, Ryan had to put his passions to the side and work hard at other things,
"I became very good at doing well in things I didn't like."
For the longest time he worked hard at excelling in these different fields, soccer became a big part of his identity but his creative side never left him - it was simply lying in dormant awaiting the opportunity to come out.
From 10 years old, continuing to the present day, Ryan has been on a journey of discovery. Rediscovering his creativity and discovering stories from across the globe to tell at the shutter of a camera, which in hindsight has enabled him to discover himself. It's always been about the process, for Ryan, the struggles, the grind, determination all it takes to get there. As he describes it,
"I knew how to grind and hustle... I knew what it took"
this may sound weird to some, but for Ryan, this was a reality that he kept from his life back in Singapore. Everything from High School to University was a result of the system he grew up in, a system that continues into his work as a photographer today.
BUT, WHY PHOTOGRAPHY?
The passion for photography started about a year and a half ago, when Ryan commenced his honours year at Monash University, studying Criminology. It was during that time that his brother suggested using the family camera that was slowly collecting dust, and, in that same instance of Ryan picking up the camera the creative juices started to flow and he hasn't put it down since.
Ryan is self-taught. When he's not blogging or uploading photos to his growing social media platforms, he is his own editor and composer. Shortly after understanding the concept of photography, Ryan embarked on the journey that interrogates the art form of photography. Ryan works as a freelancer, and has done a few projects in collaboration with Broadsheet and more recently with Sydney designer This Is Heaven.
"this year I decided to go all in" says Ryan. Using his savings from the last couple of years, his goal is to travel outside of his comfort zone into unknown cultures to expand his experience and tell their story.
Ryan's method is a concordance of mystery, curiosity and cultural assimilation, that come together in the pixels of an image where he reveals the story. His favourite things to capture are candid portraits of people.
"I think one thing to understand when you're doing all this, is that you're documenting not creating... You're not forcing things to happen. You can't force a narrative, people are there and the image is an echo of their story."
For Ryan it has become more than just the many stories that he is able to relay through his images, it's a gateway into his creative genius that helps him understand the world and himself a little bit more with every image. When asked what keeps his work constantly developing Ryan said, 'PRACTICE IS A BIG THING... I CAN'T GO OUT EVERYDAY BUT I TRY TO GO OUT AS MUCH AS I CAN' He believes that to do photography, you don't necessarily have to study it, it's more about doing it and learning from the process. Engaging with other photographers and their work, inspires new angles, perspectives and more information into the artistic pursuit of photography. "IT'S PRACTICE, THAT'S WHAT HAS WORKED FOR ME."
HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR INSTAGRAM FEED?
If you don't already follow Ryan on Instagram follow him here (@ryan.chengg). His Instagram is probably the most susceptible chapter in his story. With daily updates and one-minute VLOG's Ryan is a big promoter of 'speaking one's truth.' Ryan's process is all about knowing your story and putting it out there - not letting people tell you how to tell the world who you are.
"Just as long as you're speaking your truth, the people who are engaged will engage and the people who aren't don't matter. Don't waste your time trying to sell to people who aren't your audience. If they're not ready to hear the story you're telling than focus on the people who are ready... PEOPLE RESPOND TO HONESTY, EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE BEHIND SPECIFICALLY TAILORED PROFILES THEY RESPOND TO HONESTY."
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR INFLUENCES
His Parents - For Ryan, it's all about what he calls the 'Asian Grind.' His main influences are his parents and their ability to move and adapt to Australia from Singapore. He describes at as 'my ambition to do whatever it takes, that comes from my parents.' Ryan is also grateful for his parents in seeing Australia as a land of opportunity and supporting him in his creative pursuits alongside his brother's, which probably wouldn't have happened in Singapore.
Gary Vee - "He's more of a business man but he gives me a lot of ideas on social media. It's easy to lose that truth when you get sucked into the whole 'how many followers, how many likes mentality,' but he talks a lot about the hustle and the grind. His content helps me with all of that and I've taken a lot of that on board."
Taku- "The first other photographer I ever followed was a guy called Taku, we don't have the same style but I learn a lot of the theoretical stuff just by looking at his work."
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS IN PHOTOGRAPHY?
Ryan's main goal is to do photography full-time and go around documenting stories from different cultures. He is also very interested in fashion photography and is currently working with a Sydney based label, mentioned above, This Is Heaven. It's all about leaving the doors open for new opportunities because to be a photographer is to accept the diversity of the practice. "I just need to be honest with myself, there are certain jobs that I will do, and others that I won't do... "
"But the biggest goal I have is to one day do a shoot with Adidas"
Photography has helped Ryan become more in tune with his surroundings, which helps him capture the right image in the right moment. Apart from developing his skills in this line of work, it has also helped the boy who moved to Australia at 10 years old from Singapore to be confident. 10-year-old Ryan who had to, somewhat, suppress his creativity has now become who he was created to be.
FINALLY, HOW DO YOU WISH TO CHANGE THE WORLD WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?
It has always been about bringing people together for Ryan.
"a big thing for me growing up as an Asian-Australian has been asking myself, 'How do I bridge the gap with cultures?' between the West and other cultures...I just want people to be able to understand a culture in a glimpse"
Take the photos in the gallery below, for instance, these photo's are more than just captured points in time, for Ryan they are a story of the cultures reality... A reality that differs from our daily lives...
(click on the images to scroll through)
This is just chapter one of Ryan's story. His photography is an art of story telling with a purpose, something that brings a fresh perspective into the world! For more information or to collaborate follow: