Editor’s note: I am exceedingly grateful to Ryan for accepting my invitation to be the guest curator for the feature project of the inaugural issue of Confluence Magazine. I find the work of editing and sequencing a photo project to be as fascinating as the actual photography. I hope readers enjoy this short interview, and take away some insight that will enrich your own projects going forward.
Ryan: [The edit] is different [in that] I didn’t care too much about the literal chronology, with consistent shirts, clothing, etc.
Katie: Given that you were not confined to the chronological, what guided the sequence you chose?
Ryan: I wanted to infuse some tension without being super literal with showing her as crying whenever things were tense. The bath, the mirror, the door – those were symbolic shots I used to anchor the narrative outside the traditional chronology.
Katie: I feel like I see a progression of bonding for Victoria in your sequencing – not that she completed that process in this short span of time – but I can see her move through sorrow to some equilibrium, to some moments of happiness.
Ryan: Yep, exactly.
Katie: I read the symbolism of the door loud and clear. Tell me about the bath and the mirror.
Ryan: The mirror is Victoria looking at herself for the first time really as this new version of herself, flanked by her new, smiling parents, as she looks inward, stoically. I actually would have used that one as the opening image if I had gone completely conceptual. I was so close to doing a completely deconstructed .
Katie: And the door, exiting one world and entering a new one. What about the bath?
Ryan: It’s a baptism of sorts. Water represents growth and regeneration.
Katie: It’s really good for my brain, hearing how you think about the different possibilities. I’m trying to get better at seeing and reading metaphors in photographs, and hopefully be able to see and use them effectively myself. Felicia really captured some symbolic moments as they unfolded. Is there anything else you’d like photographers to think about as they look at this project?
Ryan: This is a story of dramatic change, and complete upheaval of country, culture, language and family for both Victoria and her new parents. Those ideas are far more important to me than the literal progression of events over a couple of days, so I’d like to challenge the audience to think about these kinds of existential changes as complicated ideas and not just mere events that go from A to B. Look past the tears and the smiles and try to understand what causes them.
Katie: Ryan, thank you so much. I feel as though your curation of this project gave Victoria a voice that rises above the voices of the many adults experiencing this event alongside her.