Ryan K, known as RealRyanKPhoto on IG is a professional content creator based in Miami, Florida. Ryan has worked with some of the top artists, athletes and brands in the world and 9450 had the pleasure to interview him for a Q&A article to learn more about his journey to where he currently sits as one of the most in-demand creators in the industry.
1) You started out with music photography prior to working in sports, could you tell us about how you got your start?
Photography has always been a passion of mines prior to getting into photography and creating content for artist, athletes and brands I was actually a musician. I spent around 12 years in the music industry as a recording artist. Over the 12 year span I had the opportunity to work with and write for many major acts and released multiple projects. As many know the music industry is a very competitive field and sometimes very strenuous and cut throat. After some success and some failures I decided it was time to move on from that dream and slowly found myself back creating but in a different way. I always loved capturing moments weather that was on the phone or film cameras but it wasn’t until I got a professional camera in my hands that I realized photography was my true calling.
One of the reasons why I was able to transition a bit easier into photography was that I already had a long list of potential clients and colleagues whom I already had relationships with in my network. Music photography and sports photography have always been my two main avenues. I first starting breaking into the music photography genera by shooting behind the scenes at music videos. A good friend of mines Jermaine Anglin owner of Blak Pro productions was one of the first to give me a shot and broke down doors for me to be able to work with some of the biggest names in the industry.
Early on I was brought in to work with Blak Pro as the main photographer for the company so any time there was big video shoots I would be the one on the sets capturing all the moments. If I can remember clearly one of the first videos I got the chance to shoot on was for the artist Wale. From that point on it was all about perfecting my craft and continuing to build off the opportunities. Throughout my venture with Blak Pro I had the chance to work with everyone from Diddy to Nicky Jam to The Migos, Maluma, Kodak Black and so many more.
As for sports photography that industry was definitely a bit more difficult to break into early on. As far as I can remember, I first began covering sports in the summer while NBA teams were on break. One of the first platforms I began covering was the Miami Pro League which is a summer basketball tournament held in Miami that features high profile athletes. Major salute to Kyle and Debo for giving me a space early on in my career to showcase my talents.
After a couple of years of showcasing my sports photography capabilities I began creating personal relationships with many athletes that later led to me working with guys such as Stefon Diggs, Tyreke Hill, Antonio Brown, Lawrence Cager, Danny Swift Garcia and many more.
2) With music photography and specifically in the hip hop world you’ve captured some iconic moments, what artists have you worked with and what has been some of your favorite achievements so far?
Looking back at my career today I definitely would have to say that working with the artist Kodak Black has been one of my biggest blessings thus far. Over a 2 year span I had the opportunity to document his career while he was with Atlantic Records. That relationship ultimately led me to shooting 2 album covers for him and multiple single cover arts with one of the albums reaching Gold status and another cover project for “Super Gremlin” reaching platinum status. Aside from that time period in my career I’ve had the pleasure of working many top tier artist. If I had to pin point other achievements in my career thus far I would have to include my work featured on billboards in time square that was a great accomplishment and something I enjoyed and look forward to more of the same type of exposure.
3) In expanding from the music world you’ve leaned into sports and fashion photography through SLAM’s LeagueFits brand - how did that collaboration begin?
Indeed. Although music photography is still one of the main creative lanes. About a year and a half ago or so I came across this world where basketball athletes fashion pre and post game were being documented in a way that I found really intriguing. This particular type of photography I noticed was not being explored much in my hometown of Miami. So I began learning the ropes and slowly began executing and shooting players and there fashion fits as they would come into town to play the home team. I figured if no one is taking advantage of this market in my city I want to be the first one to put Miami on the map. There was one particular set I released during the 2022 NBA Playoffs that featured Jayson Tatum that set of photos which gained some traction ultimately led me to a conversion with one of the main guys over @Leaguefits Ian Pierno. After some discussion and mutual interest I decided to join the LeagueFits brand and provide them with content and the rest was history.
4) What has been some of your favorite LeagueFits work?
I definitely have a few favorites I’ve captured in the short time working with LeagueFits. Shooting LeBron James in Marni is a personal favorite. Outfits can sometimes be a hit or miss with some athletes but whenever they do come well dressed it always makes for some great shots. Some notable favorites include fits worn by Russell Westbrook, Tyrese Haliburton & Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
5) In working with SLAM you captured this year’s NBA Finals, what was it like to be on the court during the most viewed games of the season?
Words can’t describe how incredible it was to be able to capture the NBA Finals for SLAM and the feelings I felt. As a huge basketball fan as a kid i always dreamed of being on the court and or documenting such an historical event. For me just being able to get my foot in the door and shooting NBA regular season games was already a blessing so imagine getting the call with the opportunity to shoot the Finals. Not only was it an amazing experience but I was able to root for my home team, the Miami Heat, in the process. In one year I went from shooting regular season games to shooting the playoffs and ultimately the NBA Finals. My relationship with SLAM is one I hold dearly and look forward to a second year of capturing the NBA. I’m thankful to the brand and to VP and head of content Arvind Pitchai for entrusting me and believing in my vision and work.
6) What would you tell inspiring photographers trying to reach some of the same goals you’ve been able to achieve.
First off I would say believe in yourself, put in the work and always be professional . One of the main keys I believe in also is consistency. Take your time to learn the business perfect your craft and most importantly learn how to edit. Knowing how to properly edit is one of the biggest factors in photography.
Lastly I would say be original find what type of photography your good at and be the best version of you that you can be.—
Thank you for taking the time to interview with us Ryan, we appreciate you taking a few moments out of your schedule to answer our questions. Please let us know how people can go about checking out more of your work and contact you for future projects.
Editor: Josh Bhagratie (@jshyb_)