Ryan Hancock

Where are you based?

Brooklyn, New York.

What is your background in photography? How did you get started?

I took a couple of classes in undergrad. I enjoyed them, but didn't really pick up a camera again for ten years. I alternately loved and hated painting, but then when I moved to New York I didn't have a space to paint in, so I started taking pictures instead.

What equipment do you use?

I use various medium and large format cameras.. and a dslr to polaroid with. Mamiya RZ, Hasselblad, Toyo 4x5. Smaller strobes mostly, but occasionally I'll borrow a Profoto kit or something like that.

Do you have a fixed idea of an image you want to create or is it more of a spontaneous process?

Certainly it's both. It's a constant back and forth. I don't carry a camera around everywhere, but I take notes on things I see and want to photograph, and I'll either return and photograph it later, or recreate whatever aspect of a situation I'm interested in out of different elements and photograph that. Other times, in the process of editing I'll realize that I need some certain image, and look for it with a more fixed idea of what I want. Not that it matters, since what I end up with is always something other than what I started out to make. I feel like my intentions are just a starting point.. something to search for with a camera in hand. Usually the image I wind up using was shot as a tangent to the image I had in mind, and during the time it takes to process and scan in the film, hopefully I let go of my idea enough to see what I actually shot with fresh eyes.

What drives you to take photographs?

The world seems to me increasingly incomprehensible, and there are times when I feel there isn't anything that I know for certain. For me, making photographs (or painting, or whatever) is necessary to translate the unintelligible reality of being into a more coherent form. Or at least to illustrate my best guesses. There is vastly more "nothing" in the universe than "something", and I try to create images that recognize the grace by which anything at all exists.

Who or what inspires you?

Books... right now I'm really enjoying the collected stories of Lydia Davis. Also, I've been consistently blown away by Viviane Sassen since I first stumbled on her work in a Chelsea gallery a few years ago. Also, several people I see online.. David Branden Geeting for example.

Are you working on a specific project at the moment?

Right now I'm shooting for a book I'm publishing in 2012, as well as showing some work here and there around NYC. I'm also in production of a documentary film called "Bonebreakers"... It's about street dancers in a part of Brooklyn called East New York who are completely incredible.

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