When Do You Feel Free?

Photographer Ryland Hormel traveled across the United States from Alaska to Florida, asking people “When do you feel free?” Respondents wrote down their answers on 3" x 5" index cards, then had their photographs taken with Hormel’s vintage Leica M6 analog camera.

When Do You Feel Free? is a collection of over 100 hand-written responses, alongside photographs that put the answers in context. The pages contain answers of photographs of recent immigrants, former convicts, fishermen, cowboys—that all come together to create a collective conversation about freedom through the fragmented perspectives of individuals across America. When Do You Feel Free? makes the reader realize freedom isn’t a location, but a state of mind, one that can be uncovered at any time.

Ryland Hormel

Born and raised in the iconic Haight Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco, Ryland’s passion for photography began just as his college soccer career was ending. Realizing athletics had an expiration date after sustaining a series of injuries, he yearned to dive into a new pursuit, one that he could sustain and would complement his lifestyle. The camera was the right path to both. What started as a hobby slowly grew into a professional career. He has worked in both the commercial and documentary space and his photography was first published in Trope Chicago.

Today, Ryland describes his approach to shooting as loose and free, striving to listen, remain in the moment and not let preconceptions get in the way. He sees the camera as a bridge—connecting to a new realm of life. Aside from his photography projects, he designed and led an Artist Incubator Program with the non-profit TA98, is a co-host of the Live Better Retreats, is producing his first documentary film and holds an MFA degree from California Institute of Integral Studies. He lives on his boat in the Bay Area with his dog Moose and is on a mission to create work and experiences that connect people with themselves and others.