We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Borthick and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I grew up an only child in Aurora, CO. My father was a full-time drummer in Blues bands along the front range so one would say I had a very non-traditional household. My mom would get me off to school and go to a traditional day job and, since my dad was working late hours, he would be up for his morning to pick me up after school and we would have the afternoon together. That lead to us having a very close family dynamic and in high school I started working freelancing in the Blues scene with him. So whereas most people grow up observing their parents working in a traditional context, for me being a freelance artist was the norm. I also have been fortunate that my parents have always been very supportive of pursuing independence in that regard.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I believe what sets me apart is my background in Photojournalism. Many photographers come through their work because, in a way, their work is about themselves. My aforementioned professor at Metro Kenn was famous for one-liners that were clearly designed to stick in your mind years later. One of the most important he would repeat is “we focus on subject matter because subject’s matter.” He was always pushing to remove yourself from your work and let the subject of your photographs be emphasized. This mantra has highly informed my work and my style. I am much more comfortable becoming a phantom in the corner with my camera capturing small moments than I am being in the middle of a studio directing the action around me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well in Colorado the outdoors have to be involved and I would start with Copper Mountain. Living on the hill for 8 months means I know that mountain better than the back of my own hand. After that, it becomes a bit more tricky, as COVID removed a lot of my favorite places from Denver including my favorite place was El Chapultepec. My dad helped run the weekly jam and he started dragging me there every week (against my fears of stage fright). I practically grew up there, so much so that I photographed the owner’s daughter’s senior photos. I prefer small dives with live music as it’s where you can still see a little bit of what Denver was before the boom, so now I suppose it would be a cruise up South Broadway hitting places like The Hi-Dive and Badgers.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents obviously for always being a supportive force in my pursuit of the arts but also the Journalism program at MSUD, particularly the former head of the Photojournalism program Kenn Bisio. When I graduated high school I had no idea what I might like to go to college for, so I took a year and went to work as a lift operator at Copper Mountain. It was there that I decided to look into photography as a way to stay involved in the snow sports industry but in a creative position. Through a series of events that are longer than they are interesting, I ended up enrolling at Metro in their Photojournalism program and meeting with Kenn to set out my class plans. He was the type of teacher that one hopes to have in college, highly invested in his student’s success and extremely passionate about the subject he teaches. He was a bit notorious for not being particularly gentle with his critiques, but it was clear that it was because he wanted to sharpen his students as quickly as possible.
Without Kenn’s guidance (and much cutting of red tape for me) I would probably not have stuck through finishing my degree.