Our contributor, Maura Rose, chatted with Ryan about his growing passion for photography and Instagram.
Ryan Paevey: Capturing a Moment
By Maura Rose
It takes a special eye to see something as modest as a water droplet resting carefully on a leaf or as epic as blue ice in the mountains of Canada, and then capture those images in a photograph using just the camera on a phone. When he isn’t working at ABC’s General Hospital that is exactly what Ryan Paevey does. His Instagram account is filled with incredible pictures taken during his hiking and nature adventures, each as stunning as the one before.
But if you ask him how he decides what makes a good photo for his Instagram, he answers without guile, “I don’t even know. It surprises even me sometimes. I’ll just be walking and I’ll see something. I don’t know what; something will stop me in my tracks and I just kind of go.”
Ryan’s Instagram is more than just average nature photos taken haphazardly by a weekend warrior. It is a compilation devoted to his adventures and the things he sees that others might miss. His love of nature and his desire to get outside is evident in what he shares with his followers. There is a unique sensibility to the collection; a sense of purpose in showing the natural world with others as he sees it.
“I’m always looking for some little bit to share from whatever that adventure was, and that usually comes in the form of pictures,” he says. “I mean it’s always kind of in my subconscious when I’m adventuring. Collect something from the trip.”
The ‘something’ is usually a photo posted after his adventure has reached its conclusion. Looking through his Instagram, the range of subjects varies from a tiny frog to a frozen waterfall. For some of his pictures, he focuses his attention on the small details, zeroing in on the finer elements in nature. In one such picture, he features the pattern formed by the bark of a tree, which bears a striking resemblance to the painting “StarryNight” by Vincent Van Gogh.
A photo posted by Ryan Paevey-Vlieger (@ryanpaeveyvlieger) on
As an experienced explorer, Ryan believes in adventuring respectfully, following the adage, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Sharing the photos he collects during an adventure is his way of paying homage to the places he goes. He circles back to the mystery of what makes a good photo for him, adding, “I don’t know what causes me to take the pictures that I take other than that I’ll just be walking and for some reason my feet will stop moving because my eyes have seen something.”
Once something has caught his attention, he pauses to take the picture, sometimes several, before moving on to continue his adventure. There is no conscious decision to photograph, just an instinct to stop, see, and share.
He is certainly not immune to the beauty around him, though. Conversation turns to another of his photographs: a frozen lake in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, British Columbia where he filmed the Hallmark Channel movie, “Unleashing Mr. Darcy.” The glacial lakes are known for their turquoise waters, a phenomenon caused by glacial silt and sunlight reflecting off it. The image itself is stunning. But, as Ryan confirms, it simply does not do justice to the natural beauty of the place.
“You’d be blown away honestly. Some of the pictures that I took turned out kinda cool. But you would be blown away by the image of it, being there in that moment. The pictures never do it justice; never comes close to the way it actually looked.”
Ryan is aware of how fortunate he is to be able to spend his free time outdoors in nature and see things like the turquoise ice in British Columbia. His feelings about it may be summed up best in the hashtags he uses on Instagram. More often than not, each one of his photos is tagged with phrases like #getoutside and #seedontlook as well as #lifeofadventure and #wanderlust. But it is the recent addition of the tag #fortunatewanderer to his photos that sums up exactly how lucky he believes himself to be.
“Quite frequently when I get done adventuring with things, I feel very fortunate to have gotten to do the things that I did,” he says, discussing the unique tag. When pressed for how he came up with the phrase, he is modest to a fault. “The origins of it, truthfully I’m not sure. I think I just had a really good day one day on an adventure and I was just like, I feel really lucky that I got to do this. And that’s it. It just kind of stuck in my head.” Regardless of how it came about, the phrase suits his Instagram and him to a tee.
With a current following at nearly 79,000, Ryan’s Instagram is the focal point of his social media presence. He has a public Twitter account but freely admits that posting nature pictures on Instagram is easier than dealing with the level of scrutiny anyone with notoriety is subjected to on other platforms.
He notes, “I think where I’m at, I still fly low enough that I can still do stuff. I think as your level of notoriety increases the level of scrutiny that you’re subjected to increases.” Despite being less active on Twitter, his fans there respond enthusiastically whenever he tweets a link to a new photo, often suggesting that his talent is beyond that of an amateur. Some fans go so far as to tweet pictures of their own nature finds in response.
One kind of photo that Ryan’s followers won’t see much of on his Instagram is the selfie shot. While he isn’t afraid to let his followers into his nature world, pictures of himself are few and far between.
“I hate pictures of myself. I’m super self critical. I’m a nature guy and that’s what I choose to share. I’m not a selfie guy. I’m not going to sit there and stare into my phone taking pictures of my face.” That might be a slight disappointment to some of his fans, but he more than makes up for it as he documents his adventures.
Through his photography, Ryan has allowed his followers a small glimpse into his free time as he adventures. Wherever he goes, whether it’s to Canada to film a movie or the Caribbean on vacation or simply a mountain in his backyard, he manages to collect a memory captured in a photo to share. Ryan’s professional life is in front of a camera with the lens focused on him as he acts in a pretend world. His Instagram account allows him to turn the lens away from himself and spotlight how lucky he is to be able to adventure and do the things that he does. Sharing with his fans might just be his way of paying the Universe back for his good fortune.