Ryland Hormel: In 2016, I Shot Every Sunrise During the Month of October

Ryland Hormel stumbled into photography after completing his final college soccer season and began looking for a new activity to devote his time. He then discovered the synergy between photography and exploring the outdoors. Ryland is always on the move, sleeping in the back of his truck while finding the most beautiful and remote places he can.

 

I grew up in San Francisco in the Haight/Ashbury area. This was center of the 70’s peace and love movement and my childhood was spent walking up and down Haight Street. I was always around different types of people, all living different lifestyles. This really built the foundation for who I am today. I try my best not to judge people, lead with love and leave a positive footprint behind. I am an avid athlete and was focused on soccer for the first 22 years of my life. I grew up surfing and now do long distance paddle boarding. I have a Alaskan Malamute named Moose and he is my life. Everywhere I go he goes and I could not ask for a better adventure buddy. 

I was a soccer player. I poured everything into it and went on to play in college. Soccer was my life! During my senior season I had a realization that soccer was coming to an end and there would be a lot of open time and energy to fill in my life. I eagerly wanted to discover something else to be passionate about. Something that would have more longevity compared to soccer, which had an expiration date for me.

If we quickly rewind, I spent six months in New Zealand during my junior year in college. It was there that I discovered my love for nature and a lifestyle that promoted freedom in my life. As soon as my final soccer season ended I remember asking my mom if I could borrow her old DSLR. She said “of course sweetie!” What I immediately found was the cross pollination between photography and the great outdoors. I simply transferred my passion and love for soccer into photography and I am damn happy I did!

I shoot with a Sony A7rii. I love this camera for its size and versatility. I hold freedom and flexibility at the highest of values in my life. In searching for a camera, I needed something that was not going to hold me back. The mirrorless system is so lightweight and I love the quality of imagery it produces. Apart from Sony I love the images that come from Canon cameras and most of my friends shoot with that system. When I started shooting, most people told me to master the iPhone first. Being impatient, I decided to do the opposite and put all of my focus in DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. It worked for me and I now love shooting with my iPhone, knowing how the more advanced systems work.

I am not a big planner (at all), so I really try to find the balance between planning out shoots and free-styling. Overall my style and approach to shooting is very free. I like to be in the moment and not let expectations of what "I could have shot” get in the way. I also love the adventure that follows not really having a plan. After I develop a basic idea of where I am going, what I am shooting and what my goals are, I let the rest unfold. When things go wrong and I wish I had more of a plan I somehow always find a way to turn it into a positive. I do really look up to meticulous planners and the work they are able to produce. That is just not who I am. If I could use one word to describe my style it would be positivity. I go for bright, vibrant images with the goal to shed some positivity into the day of whomever may be looking at one of my photos.

I moved to Chicago from San Francisco, the city where I grew up. Coming from a place with unlimited access to the ocean and mountains I was inspired to find nature in the city of Chicago. This helped me discover one of my favorite types of photography which is the urban/adventure blend.

​In October 2016 I decided to do a 30 day sunrise challenge. I shot every sunrise of the month and it ended up being the best month ever! During this month I was able to grow tremendously as a photographer and build momentum in my life. The best part about this challenge was it connected me to the greater Chicago community. Now I split my time between Portland, San Francisco and the road.

Instagram has been huge for me! It is one of the reasons I was inspired to be a photographer. When I was first learning about photography I would go through photos where the photographer put the camera settings in the caption. I would look at the photo without reading the caption and try and guess what settings were used to capture the shot. This helped me out a ton! Instagram connected me to an incredible community of creatives where I have made some life-long friends. With all of that being said I am careful with how I use Instagram. I realize that it is just a storytelling tool. I have learned that while looking at other people’s work to be inspired by their passion and not their lifestyle. Instagram is really the only social media I use and I have curated it in a way that really is in harmony with my lifestyle.

@ryhormel