An Interview With: Ryan Egan

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

My names Ryan and i've just just completed my final year of BA (Hons) Photography at Leeds College of Art.

What would be a short description of your work?

Since taking up photography I've dipped in and out of many different genres. Having just completed my final year of my degree, I feel I've found a particular style that epitomises me as a photographer going forward. In my work I try to produce clean, aesthetically pleasing visuals. In my most recent project 'Our Beneath - The North', I documented various historical landfill sites around the north of England showing how they've developed since the landfills closure. 'Our Beneath' is an on-going project that will feature three more sections, The Midlands, South East and South West.

What was your inspiration for this piece of work?

The standout inspiration for the project was a historic landfill located opposite from my grandparents house. Rolling fields and marshes that, as a child, I’d venture across with friends. Having operated for 55 years and closing in 1985, the land is still being treated to this day without any sign of development in the near future. Throughout my photographic studies my inspiration has came from photographers Mark Power, Jon Tonks, Bertrand Stofleth and Alec Soth to name a few.  

Your locations are very unique, did you have an specific plan when going out to shoot the project?

Having been a photographer that has experimented with different genres in the past, for my final university project I wanted to go back to what inspired me to start photography, that’s landscape photography, while also including a documentary aspect. The project depends greatly on location research before heading out to shoot, its then great to eventually get out there and start exploring the area further. Before heading out to each location I like to figure out a number of vantage points using Google maps, this allows me to have a better understanding of the area upon arrival.  

What equipment did you use for the project and why?

For this project I used my medium format Mamiya RZ67 Pro II with a 90mm lens fixed to my trusty Manfrotto Tripod. Quality played a big part in using this camera, allowing me to blow up my images to a large scale for exhibition purposes. Also the 6x7 format turned out great for capturing the various landscapes.   

 What was your favourite moment whilst making this project? 

One of my favourite aspects about making this project is getting out there and exploring places and cities I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting before. I’m a photographer that much prefers the outdoors.

What do you want the viewer to gain from the project?

For this project I wanted to create aesthetically pleasing, well composed images that attracts viewers into the images then hopefully drawing them into knowing the context behind them. I wanted to explore the way various landfill sites have recovered and evolved since their closures, documenting multiple stages of treatment and land development. Presenting images that show the way past landfill methods can, or has, affected the land we walk upon and how we are now resolving past waste management mistakes. Our Beneath possibly gives the viewer a sense of curiosity to the environment around them.

What have you learnt through doing this project?  

Having experimented with many different genres throughout my studies, I now feel I’ve found a direction that can identifies me as a photographer going forward. With the continuation of the project and others I can continue to develop my photographic identity further. 

What are your plans for the future?

Having only completed one of the four regions, I intend to complete the final three regions in the near future. Having found and researched into multiple locations throughout the Midland I plan to travel to these locations in the coming weeks. I also hope to start shooting new projects that I’ve been planning for a little while now.

All images copyright of Ryan Egan.


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