by JEFF SPRY A&E Feature Writer
A bonafide chip off the ‘ol creative block, photographer Ryder Redfield treads in similar visual arts arenas as his father, well-known local artist Randy Redfield, a fixture on the Central Oregon visual arts scene for over four decades.
“Dad’s been a huge inspiration to my life and work,” Ryder said. “I recall one time when I was 11 or 12 and the neighbors had a Nintendo 64 game system. I asked him why we had no video games in the house. He said you’re going to thank me someday, but I’ll never buy you possessions, I’ll only provide you with experiences.
“I was upset at the time, but each year I’ve appreciated that more and more. The things he’s instilled in me, like learning to be present in the moment, developing my creativity and imagination, have been invaluable. Looking back, it was the greatest gift he could have ever given me. “
A sixth generation Oregonian whose family came over on wagon trains to help settle the town of Joseph and founded Willamette University, Ryder’s interests go hand in hand with anything outdoors. He was first hooked by photography at 16 after a black and white photo class at Sisters High School.
“What I noticed most was how involved and captivated I was by the process. It took priority over every other activity, being behind the lens and trying to capture that perfect image.”
Ryder’s transition out of college was somewhat unconventional, but allowed for some amazing adventures.
“I lived in Baja California then Costa Rica before I came back to the states where in 2009 I was hired by Lindblad Expeditions, partners with National Geographic. I did a six-month stint as a deckhand aboard the Sea Bird. We started on the Columbia River and headed for the Sea of Cortez, where we visited remote islands in pursuit of abundant marine life in the area.
“Being beside some of the finest photographers in the world, it let me absorb advanced knowledge of the art. Combined with a love of the sea and surfing from Costa Rica, it resulted in five more years in the maritime industry where I was constantly exposed to beautiful destinations and exotic wildlife.”
In addition to photography, Ryder plans on transitioning into custom framing to complement his developing talents.
“My good friend in Madras just gave me a bunch of barnwood from an old dilapidated structure. I’d like to add a new dimension to the creative mystery and combining these two mediums gives it more of a complete Central Oregon feel.”
But it’s the sheer shock value of photography, stopping someone in their tracks with an image he’s created, that motivates this ambitious artist to keep striving.
“That’s a huge reward,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to travel around the world extensively and this is my way of sharing those experiences and encounters. I can justify my leisure time adventure if I know I might be motivating someone to quit their 9-5 job or take that dream journey of their own.”
Ryder just returned last month from a photographic roadtrip to Wyoming and Colorado where he absorbed the wonders of the Grand Teton Mountains and Yellowstone National Park.
“I would never have expected that one of the most beautiful places I’ve been would be so close to home,” he added. “Every single angle of the Tetons was absolutely fascinating, with every day transforming into something new: a dusting of snow, clear skies, rainstorms, fall color, fog and many combinations of those natural elements in such a short amount of time.”
This past summer Studio Redfield in Sisters hosted an exhibition of Ryder’s recent work, including images of the colorful Latino culture taken during a trip to Guadalajara.
“I love landscape photography but really like to include some modern structures to capture that contrast between two worlds. I make a rule where, if I can’t capture the desired photo in 20 takes, I punish myself and won’t allow myself to take any more. It males me put in a lot of preparation before I’ve even pulled the camera out. With digital photography, you’re encouraged to take thousands of images for a single subject. I don’t want to be staring at a computer for hours during the editorial process.”
Looking forward, Ryder hopes to continue the Ryder family legacy of being immersed n his art.
“I’ve now developed a skill set and so the trick is figuring out where I want to take them,” he said. “A recurring theme is my desire to apply it toward conservation photography. Based on my background, the next organic step would be a blending of those passions. Where monetizing my art is always nice, right now my main goal is applying these aptitudes toward documenting a cause for the greater good.”
Studio Redfield, 183 E. Hood Ave in Sisters