It's a tale well-known in road tripper lore: a man leaves his hometown in search of his next big adventure, complete with a romantic ending. Writers have told the story for years, but photographer Ryan Russell wanted to tell his story the best way he knew how: his camera lens. The results are beautiful.
You might know Russell's body of work… He's been one of the leading photographers for famous bands for several years. His resume is impressive including Death Cab For Cutie, Against Me!, Paramore, and Blink-182, but for the first time ever he has a new book of photography featuring natural scenery and roadside attractions. Just how did this change of focus come about?
"I was on a journey. Maybe not as extreme as 'Into the Wild,' but I was leaving Birmingham to move to Bellingham, WA for the first time. I wanted to tell the story from my perspective through my photos."
The result: some incredible pictures from all over the country. You can learn more and buy the book here. Oh, and you didn't think a photographer with his musical pedigree would give just a book? There's an exclusive 7" vinyl featuring rare tracks from Manchester Orchestra and Minus the Bear, music that motivated Russell throughout his trip, as part of the deal too.
We were thrilled when we learned Russell used Roadtrippers to plan his trip. The coolest place he saw? The forgotten ghost town of Sego. "If something went wrong you would never been seen from again… I thought this is either going to be really fun, or I'm going to get robbed."
For the first half of his epic road journey Russell flew solo, giving him time to process his road to leaving home for good. In Denver he picked up a friend and the two conquered the west together.
When we asked Russell about the strangest part of the trip he had a quick answer… While taking photos of the World's Largest Wren in Topeka, he saw some protesters in the background wandering around. Just who were they? None other than Westboro Baptist members. "They could tell I was a professional photographer and made it into the background of several of the shots." Russell then had to decide if he wanted the focal point of the book to be the photos and his journey or the existence of this group in the background of some pictures. He opted for the former.
By the end of the journey Russell was in Bellingham (outside of Seattle), but we won't tell you the exactly why he ended up there… See and read it in his book.
From photographing rock stars to rocks and the stars, Ryan Russell wants to tell the world stories, one shutter flick at a time.
About Ryan Russell:
Russell was born and raised in the Deep South town of Birmingham, where he found an eye for photography at a young age. His style embraces predecessors of southern culture like William Eggleston and Ernest Withers as well as personal influences like Glen E. Friedman and Charles Peterson to create a bold new take on classic southern gothic photography. Today, Russell is a well sought after photographer who has worked with bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Paramore, Patton Oswalt, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Against Me!, and Blink-182 and his photographs have appeared in such periodicals as Rolling Stone, Spin, Esquire, Playboy and New York Times.