Ryan Akerberg - Lightsource

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Ryan Akerberg


We got to catch up with one of our favorite film-photographers, Ryan Akerberg. We scan + print his fantastic negatives that he brings to the studio.

Please introduce yourself. Who are you and what do you make?

My name is Ryan Akerberg and I am a film photographer who was born in Sioux City, IA. Having grown up in the Midwest, with all that wide open space, formed what would become my photographic aesthetic. At the age of 26 I found the West Coast and have remained in San Francisco, California ever since. My Iowa roots, however, continue to guide me. I enjoy solitude and the open spaces of my youth when searching for something to photograph, even when photographing people in the city streets, I try to isolate the subject in a way that might show their vulnerability and sometimes their loneliness. Currently I am working on a series called SOME PEOPLE as well as an ongoing series about my hometown called SIOUX CITY.

Do you feel that shooting with film has influenced your process? 
If so, how? Why do you shoot film?

I feel that shooting film is the only reason I make photographs, period. Without the rediscovery of film, I would not be a photographer. I started with film in my youth through the direction and influence of my father who is a photographer, but like many people of my age group, I went the way of the buffalo and tried my hand at digital. I quickly lost the love for photography because of this choice. Digital photography seemed flat and impersonal to me, like I wasn’t part of the making of the photograph, instead the computer did the work. So when I picked up a film camera again many, many years later through the inspiration I got seeing Jason Lee’s work, I haven’t looked back.

In the three years since that rediscovery, I have devoured other photographers work and haven’t put the camera down. Because film has so much depth to it, so much emotion, it allows the photographer to start to have a relationship with the film he/she chooses to make photographs with. Film also allows you to do everything in camera and have a hand in the entire process, all while working with something real and tangible. I am just in love with film.


What do you hope that your art communicates?
What I am trying to convey through my photographs is a sense of being there, the way that I am there. To show a landscape or an everyday situation in a way that might not be apparent to the viewer had they been there themselves. I want to make them feel a sense of the loneliness, isolation and awe that I feel when viewing these scenes. 


What is your process like and how does LightSource fit in?

Everything I photograph is a found moment. I find myself driving the back roads of where ever I might be (mostly my back yard of northern and central California) searching for something that catches my eye. This is the same when I am walking my beloved San Francisco. I just seem to get a feeling when I see something that I have to photograph and I just know to stop and capture it.

LightSource is the only way I print! Again I only started shooting film again 3 years ago and frankly I am my own worst critic. So… printing in a traditional darkroom and I aren’t friends YET! Y’all give me the confidence that I can go through the efforts of film shooting and know that when I am asked for a print that y’all will not only print the photo successfully for me but y’all will blow my mind! Love y’all! Big love for Ward!


IG: ryan_akerberg