Knitted brain beanie – portraits of Ryan Muirhead
In November 2021, Anna and I took the train across the sound from Malmö to Copenhagen, to attend a small workshop by Ryan Muirhead. He was originally in town to speak at the photography conference Way Up North, but had decided to also do a small, intimate gathering of five attendees in a studio outside of city centre. Ryan is a legend among contemporary photographers and were one of my inspirations for getting back into analog photography. I’ve followed his work for many years, but this was my first time meeting him in person. It was quite the surreal feeling, seeing him walking into the room.
The six of us spoke about many things during our time together, but what I remember most was Ryan’s explanation of how he gets his shots. Instead of a lot of pre-planning and a shot-list, he focuses on spending time with his subject, conversing, setting the mood, finding pockets of light and just wait for the images to reveal themselves. It seems like a very delicate and vulnerable way of working, and maybe this is why I remember him saying he only shoots with friends now. I could never work the way Ryan does, but his process has inspired me to try to let go of the control agenda. Instead of detailed plans, I now prefer to only decide on the time, location and maybe a mood, and then just see what comes up. He also told me I need to work with artists rather than models and I’ve kind of moved in that direction.
During the workshop, Ryan graciously agreed to sit for a few portraits, wearing a brain beanie Anna had knitted for the occasion.