Continuing our series of latex fashion interviews with leading industry designers, models and those who have a passion for the material, Latex24/7 talks exclusively to Manchester-based Christopher James Ryan Photography.
Q: Please provide a short overview of yourself and your photography career so far. For example, when and how did you first get into photography?
A: I’ve done photography since I was a child, After studying in college, and then university for a short while, I then started to freelance properly since January 2012 and it was at this point that Christopher James Ryan Photography really started. Starting from the bottom, with mates being models, and starting music photography with local bands along with other genres. Since then I have networked with bands, models and magazines on both the music and model side of things. My first model publications were in 2014 and my music was in 2014. Since then I have been published with some big magazines across the globe. I am now photographing some of the biggest bands in the world and have begun working with some top well-known models in the industry.
Q: Can you describe what is involved with a typical photography assignment? When do discussions begin around locations and themes, what does the day of a shoot normally entail?
A: When it comes to photoshoots I initially just have brain waves of ideas for what the outcome could be. For example, a latex pinup in the city. I then research locations either in Manchester or Liverpool and the surrounding areas and then note down combinations and other themes on top. I usually have some models in mind but I do put castings out to attract new models and work with designers. Luckily I am on good terms with some designers, and models, who have access to latex/other outfits. If not then I’ll reach out or wait till the model has the items needed. I always plan the location on where the model is based so can meet halfway, etc. The shoots normally are from midday onwards as its the best lighting for locations, or studio if need be. Themes can be a mix of latex, glamour, pin-up, horror and just wacky!
Q: Throughout a photographers career there are often standout projects, and shoots, which a photographer is particularly proud of. What do you feel have been the highlights of your photography career so far?
A: For the model side of things there have been loads of shoots which I look back and think wow! One being a twisted Alice shoot, my 2nd big project back in 2014 which got published in 2016. I did a pinup seductive pumpkin shoot last year which sounds daft but looks ace, and recently did a few horror glamour shoots which I personally feel is my strongest work! I think the best highlights are the ones that get published as it proves to me that the outcome I get with the models is far greater than I’d expect it to be.
Q: What is it that makes you keep coming back to photography time and time again? Is it the people, the challenge, the sense of achievement, the positive comments?
A: It’s all three. The amount of times I’ve almost called it a day due to my mental health or personal stuff going on, or the frustration of my work not coming out as I imagined. The people I work with give me confidence and time to learn and improve my skill. The publications I get are a huge confidence boost and seeing my work in print form is awesome. I know people lie sometimes as they do not want to hurt my feelings so I ask for an honest opinion. If you don’t know the truth then how can you improve? I’ve been getting nothing but positive comments from the models, the fans, the bands, my bosses and from record companies so it keeps my dedication going on!
Q: Moving onto the world of latex fashion and the wonderful shiny stuff, how long have you been photographing latex outfits and adding the genre to your portfolio?
A: I think it’s been around three years since I’ve had the opportunity to photograph these wonderful shiny amazing outfits! Thanks to the models who have allowed me a chance to do some shoots and then the designers themselves wanting collaborations. They help me create more sweet shiny content!
Q: What first sparked your interest or first got you involved in photographing latex fashion? How did you discover the material? Was it a personal interest or intrigue, maybe seeing celebrities wearing outfits made from latex, were you approached by a designer?
A: Back in the early days of model photography latex was known but only the top people had access. Latex was basically gold, pure gold, and working hard to get a name out there to one day being able to shoot some latex was a big challenge ahead. I personally do like latex as it adds that extra kick to which no other material can beat. Seeing some of the biggest models in the industry wear it and having fantastic outcomes (photo-wise) I knew I had to get fish into the bigger pond to produce remarkable images! Again there were models I knew which had latex and gave me the opportunity, and working on some trade fairs which gave me access to more designers and outfits.
Q: Which latex fashion brands have you worked, or collaborated with? What were their outfits like to capture?
A: There have been a few but on the top of my head I can think of Seven Sin Latex and Phoenixx Designs UK. The outfits were remarkable! Handmade bespoke designs and to get the images I wanted. It was a match made in heaven!
Q: There are many latex fashion designers around the world who cover a wide and varied range of latex clothing styles. Who are your favourite designers? If you could work with for any designer, or any style of latex clothing, what would it be?
A: Hmmmm that’s a tough one as there are so many! For ones I’ve not worked with yet it has to be Bright&Shiny, Honour Clothing, Libidex, Catalyst Latex and Rubberfashion.de. To see the name Christopher James Ryan Photography next to these amazing brands would be truly brilliant.
Q: Latex is a unique material and totally different from the majority of other fabrics which are commonly used during the making of fashion garments. For models new to latex clothing at the time you shoot with them, what is their common reaction to first trying latex?
A: How shiny and how well it fits the models figure. I know a few models are nervous as they have self-doubts but I tell them do not worry one bit, you will love it! And of course, they do. Snugly fit, shiny and compliments the figure.
Q: With the uniqueness of the material, and like any form of niche photography, there are often increased challenges which would not be present with traditional photoshoots. What considerations and challenges does latex as a material or surface present in the composition of a shot? For any aspiring photographers, can you provide any tips you would give for shooting this material?
A: Latex is a challenge to photograph because of the shine. The outfits are very very reflective and you can often see objects depending on the lighting. Using flash/studio gear as well, be careful where you place the model or the gear as you will get flash spots on the photo. Just keep an eye out and re-position to reduce it.
Q: What do you feel is the main appeal of latex fashion?
A: The shine. How shiny the outfits are is what I think everyone’s reaction is.
Q: Who is your biggest influence and who do you respect most in the genre of latex fashion photography?
A: There are a few giants which would be an honour to join for a shoot! Kink Engineer, Latex and Lingerie, Frankinsella and LatexFashionTV.
Q: Latex fashion has become more and more of a normality in mainstream thanks to the music, film and celebrity industries. Do you see this trend increasing or do you think outfits made using the material will always be a niche item? Do you feel there will ever be a day when latex garments will be mainstream and can be brought “off the peg” at normal high street stores and shops?
A: I think the latex vibe won’t ever end. Yes, it has become mainstream, which is good as it shows that it’s just clothing and not only BDSM. It allows designers to get noticed and the exposure they deserve as the outfits we see are amazing! There will be people that will dislike it and people who will stop and stare as someone walks past (which I’ve seen many times). I feel one day you can just walk into a high street shop and buy it no fuss. There are a few places that do this now I think.
Q: Given the previous question, do you feel that latex photography by Christopher James Ryan Photography might just as well be categorized as ‘Alternative fashion’ photography or simply fashion?
A: Yes and no. As a whole, it is alternative fashion but no it deserves its own category. With all the posts I do and see on Instagram, latex/latex photography gets more views alone than alternative fashion so this speaks for itself.
Q: What do you feel are the biggest barriers for people who haven’t worn latex fashion before? What stops them from taking the plunge?
A: It’s because it’s so bold and daring compared to any other design. It’s the feel of either being judged or a self-confidence issue thinking e.g. they won’t suit it, etc.
Q: For models new to latex clothing, or those who are about to shoot in it for the first time, what tips and suggestions would you give them?
A: Use plenty of baby powder on the inside, a lot, otherwise it will be a challenge to get on/ remove. Don’t ever use baby oil to re-oil (thanks Susey for this tip). Use plenty of shiner as prescribed by the designers. It’s ok to stretch the outfit to get on as you will need to adjust/ stretch to remove the creases.
Q: As a professional photographer, whose image is everything, what is it that keeps you returning to photographing latex clothing?
A: The wow factor. It stands out from the rest and because I don’t photograph latex often I view it as a sweet shiny reward that means the images will have that extra planning for a shoot and make sure the theme has more planning.
Q: Who are your favourite and most respected models working within the industry? If you could work with any model, who would it be and why?
A: That’s a toughie as there are so so so many to choose from. I think off the top of my head it’s Ruby Alexia, Alexa Moorre, Purplemuffinz, Starfucked and Ashley Merwin.
Q: Are there any upcoming projects which you will be involved in, which you could give us a sneak peek of? Where should we look out for you next?
A: There’s no mages yet as some shoots have had to be pushed back due to personal reasons. I am currently doing an idea board for some projects but they are in the early planning stages so far. For now, I will be aiming to get some more latex shoots done to show the world. When I have some ideas and images from those, I will be posting them on my social media channel.
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