Here’s the truth: a fashion blogger is nothing without their photographer. They can have outstanding style, witty writing.. but without strong, professional photos- they ain’t gettin’ far.
A truly outstanding photographer also knows the ins and outs of the business- the nitty gritty of what goes on behind the scenes. They can act as backbones to bloggers and are true assets to companies and brands wanting to create unique content.
One of the best of the best is right here in San Francisco: Mr. Ryan Chua.
You may not have heard of him, as many photographers fly under the radar, but you’ve probably seen his photos on the pages of big time bloggers like Song of Style, Chriselle Factor, or Front Roe (you know, just to name a few.) These ladies will surely tell you one thing: Ryan Chua is the real deal. He’s the shit. He’s the photographer bloggers love love love to work with. Beyond his brilliant photographs, he’s a big champion for the bloggers he shoots: always making it a point to encourage them to keep at it and stay confident.
Louise of Fashion Roe. Mid strut and city life captured by Ryan.
He’s a photographer, a content creator, and marketing genius. Without a doubt, Ryan Chua is making a mark in the creative world and it’s so cool that a lot of it is happening right here in the Bay Area.
We couldn’t wait to shed some light on this talented individual, get the insider deets on our favorite fashion bloggers, and pick his brain on how to get the best photos.
These days he’s busy shooting big time names like Marianna of Life With Me and Arika Sato. He’s busy working with our local fashion favorites like Ally Chen of Fashion By Ally and Ariana of Fashion Born. But before that? Truly a “won’t stop until I’m satisfied” kind of story.
Ariana of Fashion Born. Gorgeous colors photographed by Ryan.
Years leading up to his current status as coveted photographer in the fashion world, Ryan first worked at the UCSF Medical Center (he holds a degree in Molecular Biology from UC Berkeley.) He then studied Paralegal Studies and graduated with honors… straight A’s every year- he’s a boss like that. He then started a successful fashion magazine, managing teams all over the world including New York, Sweden, Copenhagen, and Los Angeles. After that, he went on to be Charlotte Rouse’s first social media strategist and grew their Instagram account from 0 to over 400K in less than a year in a half.
Needless to say, he is a well rounded, accomplished individual.
But in the midst of all these career adventures and school, nothing set afire a passion for him more than photographing fashion bloggers. He loved the fact that he could work creatively with his subject one on one verses having to manage a large team.
“Fashion bloggers… they are a one woman army. They show up with their hair done, make up done. They style their own outfits. They have ideas. There was no need to have to hire anyone else.”
Jessi Malay of My White T. NYFW photo by Ryan.
Throughout the years of school and unrelated work, Ryan persevered in his photography.
His drive is incredible- in fact, one year he even did over 100 photoshoots to perfect his craft. “I’d do 2-3 photoshoots a weekend.” And here’s something… Ryan is self-taught.
“I didn’t go to photography school. And then I’d buy all these photography books but I’d never read them. I decided to figure everything out on my own. I’d play around with settings. I’d see what worked for me and what didn’t. I just knew fashion photography was my calling.”
Today, we see his photographs all over the internet and bloggers look forward to seeing his street style photography. He also does marketing for the new social app, FYUSE. Which, if you haven’t heard of FYUSE, it’s freaking dope. It’s a 3D photo app that legit makes photos come alive. Cynthia and I are obsessed.
And clearly, we’re obsessed with Ryan and his inspiring story. Like, can we bottle up some of that talent, smarts and grit please? Thanks! 😉
Ally Chen of Fashion By Ally. Swaying beauty captured by Ryan.
While we had some time with him over coffee, we also had to ask him about some of our beloved bloggers.
Like… are any of them surprisingly shy in front of the camera? Answer: “Believe it or not, Julie from Sincerely Jules is pretty shy.” (Say whaatttttttt?! That girl is my favorite!)
We asked him what Aimee Song (Song of Style) was like. “She is very down to earth. No ego at all. She loves her fans and always takes the time to say hi to them. She’s one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet. Really personable.” Queue Cynthia: “I knew it! She’s my favorite, her Snapchats are hilarious!” Fun fact, Aimee got her start in San Francisco and she was the first blogger that Ryan ever worked with!
Aimee of Song of Style. Fashion Week photo by Ryan.
He’d also gone to the Bloglovin’ Awards recently -AKA the Grammy’s for blogs- and we asked who he’d hung out with most of the evening. “These two girls mostly. They had a huge following and they were personal friends of one the bloggers I shoot.” Who?! WHO?!? 😛
“Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman from A Bikini A Day.“ Shut your face, Ryan!! lol. Nonchalantly he tells us, “They were so sweet. We hung out the whole night. It was cool and I really enjoyed their company.” Oh and sure enough, Natasha (1.5M followers) follows him on Instagram. No big deal! (P.S Devin is from Oakland! HOLLA GIRL! Bay says hey!)
He tells us that it’s the biggest bloggers who are the most humble. “You won’t make it if you aren’t a nice person. You have to be good to people if you want to make it to the top.”
Juley and Anh of 9 to 5 Chic. Duo shot by Ryan
What about all the bloggers at NYFW? There are so many, how do you spot the big timers?
“The big time bloggers always show up late because they are running from show to show. They speed in. The newer, hungrier bloggers always arrive early. Sometimes they don’t even have tickets to the show but they’ll show up 20 minutes early in hopes of getting their picture taken.”
Gotta respect that hustle!
On that note, we asked him, in such a saturated market of bloggers, is it worth it for aspiring bloggers to even try their hand at it?
“For aspiring fashion bloggers.. they really need to be serious about it. It’s more than full time and they need to have a reality check with themselves. They need to have content daily, and I mean constantly. They need to be taking outfit photos ALL the time. They’d be smart to find a specific niche. If they find a niche and own it, they will stand out and because of that they will go far. But they need to work at it. Constant content is a must.”
New blogger of only 14 months, Ellen V Lora of Pure Evl. Already at ~250K on Instagram. Perfect example of sticking to a niche and rocking it. Captured by Ryan
We also wondered if there was anything fashion bloggers ever did that drove him a little nuts sometimes. (I was a fashion blogger for 4+ years… this I had to know haha.) “Not really individually, but if I have like 5-6 people asking me for photos, I’ll want to blow my brains out. I have a fast turn around, but sometimes I need a few days. At least 24 hours.”
Before our interview concluded, we asked him for tips for our readers on taking cute outfit photos for themselves- just to have or for their Insta. His main tips:
1. Keep your hands busy. Whether you have a prop, are holding on with one hand to the strap of your purse, or have one in your pocket.. just keep them moving and busy for a more relaxed, confident photo. AKA you don’t want to look too posed. Side note- I used to be the QUEEN of awkward hands in my photos. Called em derp hands. 😛
2. Interact with your environment. Twirl your skirt or play with it. Pop your collar or grab it. Sit on pretty doorsteps or near cute sidewalk tables. It makes the outfit come alive more.
3. Foot placement. Either stagger them, put one foot in front of the other, or point your toes a little more inward when side by side. Avoid a “V” shape with your heels more together. “The hell? Really? I had no idea…”-Cyn
4. Relax your lips. Show a smile. A real smile. That displays confidence. So flash dem pearly whites girrrrrl.
We can’t thank Ryan enough for this interview! For more of his incredible photos, follow his Instagram and check out his site! 100% worth it for some grand fashion inspiration. We are forever fans of your work, Ryan!