In her spare time, Kathy Ryan, director of photography at the New York Times Magazine, is a brilliant hunter of lights and shadows. For the past two years, she’s kept a daily journal of images, all shot while working in the offices of the American newspaper, posting them in real time on Instagram and Facebook. Her subjects: walls, hallways, shutters, objects, colleagues, friends. In her book Office Romance, available in October from Aperture, readers will discover 100 photographs of an abstract, suggestive atmosphere. Not to push the comparison too far, but the style is reminiscent of the style of Harry Callahan and Saul Leiter, an American tradition of lines and shapes.
Some are more mundane than others, but among them are subtly textured tableaux. On one wall, we see the misshapen shadows of legs and boots. On another, a man’s striped clothing blends in with the shadows cast by a window blind. Later, the photos blur in glass reflections and sunlight, fingerprints and variegated rays, brown pupils and white squares, the New York skyline and transparent fabric. Viewers will gladly lose themselves in this latest series of mysterious photographs, plunging into this ordinary visual space reconverted into a visual playground. The objects serve as symbols: a book of magic spells open on a table, balls of shredded paper, a parcel in the middle of a hallway, fulsome white roses and faded tulips. Throughout the pages, it is also possible to feel the closeness Kathy Ryan maintains with her creative partners: she introduces her book with a sketch by the architect Renzo Piano, or uses of mystery in portraits behind a translucent surface – frosted glass here -, also a preferred method of the South Korean Ina Iang.
In this sometimes realistic, sometimes fanciful world, playfulness mingles with recreation. Wherever she is, Ryan uses her square-format composition to confer a bit of poetry upon her office life, a nonstop factory of journalism and an artistic laboratory for a day, demonstrating for those who may doubt it that mixing vocations is always possible.
MagazineKathy Ryan, A tireless photo editor
On Thursday October 13, 2016 the W. Eugene Smith Grant ceremony was held at the School of Visual Arts, in New York. That evening, Kathy Ryan, the Director of Photography at The New York Times Magazine, made a speech and told about her experience as a photo editor
EventEyeing Romance with Ryan
Kathy Ryan is genuinely loved and respected in the greater photo community. She is a legend and has been at it for many years. In person she is modest and soft spoken, yet one may imagine that her head fairly explodes with ideas and possibilities, making bold marriages of project...