Music Photographer Ryan Farber On Inspirations, Burner After Parties and Chilling With OWSLA

Posted by Jackson 4 months ago in Interviews

ryan farber interview

Mija & Vindata’s new video for their collaborative single, “Better” was bestowed upon us at a time of dire need. A time in which the inadequacy of Summer playlists loomed over our weary Soundcloud browsing heads; a time when hopes for rambunctious booze-fueled fun under the incandescent sun felt fleeting and uninspired.

But at once, faith was restored via the infectiously rad, “Better,” and it’s exciting visual counterpart; shot, directed, and edited by late night party archivist, Ryan Farber.

Farber is a Philly-based Photographer, best known for his keen eye, quick lens and uncanny ability to capture the sanctimony of live musical performance and the night life scene. Beyond his recent work with OWSLA’s heavy hitters, Mija & Vendata, Farber’s rich and stylistically diverse portfolio includes epic shots of some huge musical icons, his worldly travels, a few head spinning b-boys, and lots of beautifully intoxicated party-goers alike. All of which founded upon an underlying theme that aims to express human individuality and tell a person’s story with a single still.

I’m deeply intrigued as to how one is able to paint the sweaty, inebriated disarray of late night hedonism in a light in which we, as participants, can actually adore and bare to look at. Something that makes me feel wonderful about my regretful decisions of the night before and reflect back on the beauty of being in the heat of the moment (opposed the dozens of awful fucking Snapchats I find on my iPhone’s camera roll every Sunday morning.) So we sought after this young visionary in hopes to get a little insight into his career and what he’s got coming for us in the future.

 

You are quite an accomplished photographer with a large gallery of epic shots. When did you first pick up a camera? When did you know photography was a path you wanted to pursue professionally? 

 Hey thanks!  I picked up a camera about three years ago.  I tend to get bored with things really easily, but photography was the one thing that I could keep doing over and over again and still be satiated.

What is it about capturing live performance in the heat of the moment that attracts you? In other words, why choose this particular medium for your photography (and now, video work too :))
It’s unpredictable.  Like I said before I get bored really easily with things, but live music is always exciting.  However, live performance in my opinion is very easy to capture.  When you are shooting a talented artist, they are doing all the work for you, you just have to press a button.  I’ve shot so many shows it doesn’t feel like a challenge to me anymore, which is why I strive to go deeper and more personal with the pictures I take of artists.
Who are a couple of your biggest influences, photography-related or not, and why?
CurrentlyI really respect the Virgil Abloh, and the fact that he can creative direct for such a massive artist as Kanye, but still maintain his own unique persona and brand.  He also does so many things at once, which I can relate to for sure.
What trends or changes music culture have you noticed since you started taking photos? What are some things you’ve learned from that experience?
I’m not sure how to answer that because my perceptive is always changing based on the crews of people I’m working with.  One minute I’ll think we’re all fucked and the next moment I’ll be like wow!  Things couldn’t be better.  Overall, I think the vast majority of people in the electronic scene want more substance in the content that they see, since they see so much of it on a day to day basis.  If you’re not doing something memorable or original you won’t last long.
In your opinion, what makes a photograph or piece of visual art compelling?
The story behind it.
How do you want your photos videos to make your audience feel?
I want to make art that you can look at over and over again and not get bored of it.
You’ve shot for some pretty huge acts throughout your career including The Rolling Stones, Kanye, The Allman Brothers Band, and Questlove (to name a few). Ever get to meet anyone that left you feeling completely star-struck? 

I don’t really get star struck to be honest.  Except if I ever met James Blake.

It seems like you’ve spent a lot of time with the OWSLA family recently. How long have you worked with them and what has that experience been like for you?
They are just a really fun crew to hang with.  I haven’t done too much work for them directly, but I’ve been around their team and artists many times.   There are so many talented and creative people contributing to their vision.
 
We’re really digging that new MIja & Vindata track, “Better,” as well as the video in which you directed and edited. How did that project come to fruition?
Mija’s manager sent me an email out of the blue that said, “want to make the music video for the new track?”  I had never made a music video before. 
The video seems to function as a sort of tour diary for Mija and Vindata.  Did you gather the majority of the footage with the intention of compiling it into a music video for the two? 
I would have filmed whatever the hell we were doing anyways, but yes, our intentions were to contribute towards a music video.  We wanted a more lifestyle aesthetic, so it basically turned into me filming…whatever the hell we were doing.  The goal was to shoot stuff with our friends in Miami and LA.  It’s simply footage of us having a good time.
Tell me you got to hop on that crazy fucking aquatic hoverboard thing?
no :/
Are you planning on working on any more music videos in the near future?
I’d like to for sure.  Maybe something a little more conceptualized and cinematic.
I imagine with all the nightlife and parties you’ve documented throughout your career, you must have seen some seriously wild shit go down. What’s the single most ridiculous thing you’ve witnessed at an event thus far?
I went to this burner after party in NY one time.  There was a room in the back that was basically a sex chamber.  We walked in and there were two dudes giving each other blow jobs in the corner.  No one seemed to mind.
So what does Ryan Farber’s bucket list look like? What are some big milestones or goals you hope to meet moving forward?
Time travel.  Make hella zines.   Clone myself so I can work better.  Hire James Blake to sing me to sleep every night.  Get Senpai to notice me.
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