Ryan Pettaway (@ryart_boston) had already been taking iPhone photos for Instagram when he went on a trip to Europe in January, but seeing his friend snap away with an actual camera inspired him to step up his photography game. A 31-year-old engineer originally from Annapolis, Md., Pettaway, who now lives in Charlestown, taught himself photography from YouTube videos and practice, and his vibrant, precisely framed shots are evidence that he has learned well.
Q. Your profile says you are “assisting local artists and companies showcase talents to their audience.” What does that mean?
A. I enjoy collaborating with other artists and photographers. It could be a model, could be a musical artist. One of my goals is to help others really showcase their brand or what they’re trying to say to their community or audience. It’s really small level right now; it’s just helping friends out.
Q. Your profile also says that you sell your photography at a gallery. Is it difficult getting people to pay for photography?
A. I think it really depends on who your audience is and how big you are. I do think it can be pretty challenging to launch your own website, as I did, and try to get people to buy a print. There are all kinds of decisions to make. Are you going to print them out yourself? Are you framing and shipping them for people? I think it has been a little challenging, but if you stick to it you’ll definitely be able to sell on a larger scale.
Q. I like the way a lot of your photos are framed. What do you think about when you’re framing a shot?
A. I think the important part about photography is knowing what you want your subject to be. If I’m in a Lyft or Uber or biking through the city and I see something, I may jot down, you know, “the lighting looked great, 5:45, golden hour, right at MIT on Boylston St.” I try to write down notes so I can come back and try to have the subject be the story of the picture, whether that’s a statue or a tree. For me, it’s a lot of planning, rather than just blindly shooting.
Q. What do you like about shooting Boston?
A. First things first, it’s convenient, as I live here [laughs]. What I truly like about it is there’s a lot of history here, a lot of hidden gems. Boston’s a very walkable city. I live in Charlestown. I can take pictures of the Bunker Hill Monument, easily walk 10 minutes and be in the North End, walk another 15 minutes from there, and I’m in the South End, Southie, Back Bay.
Q. Do you have a favorite place in Boston to shoot?
A. It’s probably Beacon Hill. I just love the rolling streets, the exposed brick, the vines on the building, the flowers, the secret gardens in the back you can walk through. I think it’s really pretty there.Interview was edited and condensed. Terence Cawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @terence_cawley