Snow Shooter: Ryan Creary

Finding the right place to call home is what brought photographer Ryan Creary from coastal New Brunswck to the mountains of interior British Columbia where he now calls home.

He believes it is important to stay “centered” and “balanced,” and living and shooting in Revelstoke has helped him on his path to equanimity in art and life. We talked with Creary to find out more about his commitment to life’s Feng Shui.

Ryan Creary on the other side of the lens. [Photo] Daniel Stewart

Ryan Creary on the other side of the lens. [Photo] Daniel Stewart

Backcountry Magazine: What drew you to photography as a profession?

Ryan Creary: I had always been passionate about these kinds of sports, and photography was a gateway for me to mesh career and my passions together. I am from the Maritimes—New Brunswick—in Canada originally and I was introduced to snowboarding, mountain biking and climbing back then, in high school. In university I went off to get a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

BCM: What was it about action photography that called to you over other genres?

RC: My focus has always been action and the lifestyle, the cultural side of the sports that I participate in and shoot. It was a natural extension to want to photograph the sports I participate in. Eventually it led to a career. It is something I am still passionate about; I love it to this day. The important part for me is maintaining a balance now. You want to get your business going, but you are constantly taking photographs and it starts to take away from the activities themselves. Before I would always bring my camera and nowadays, when I am working, it is strictly a workday. Then when I am out on my own personal days it is important to me to keep that passion alive.

Tim Haggerty dives into the alpenglow. |  Revelstoke, B.C. | [Photo] Ryan Creary

Tim Haggerty dives into the alpenglow. | Revelstoke, B.C. | [Photo] Ryan Creary

I traveled halfway across the country to go to university, but I grew up by the Atlantic Ocean and was exposed to that [environment]. I have a cousin who was into rock climbing and backpacking at the time and he introduced me to all the outdoor areas that were close to where I lived. And Mark Fawcett, he was one of the first people in my neck of the woods to pursue snowboarding seriously and he was a pretty big influence back then for me. I think I bought my first snowboard off of him.

Then going on to northern Ontario [for university]—it is pretty rugged country up there. You are surrounded by bush country in every direction, and that was all related to what I was studying. You get exposed more and more to those types of activities [skiing, biking, climbing] and areas. But from there I moved straight to Whistler.

BCM: Where is your favorite place to work? Why?

RC: I live in Revelstoke, B.C. now. It was a place that was always on my radar and I always thought it was where I really wanted to spend some time. I moved there for that reason. There is no other place for me that compares to everything it offers: access, people, community. It is the full package. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I live where I want to be. It is one of the big questions in life: where do you want to spend a good portion of your life? Where is that place that speaks to you that you want to call home? Revelstoke is that place for me. I love to travel and go other places, but when I come back I feel that this is home and I feel centered, I feel balanced and then I can leave again and come back. If there were a favorite place, it would have to be where I live. All the other places I like to go to, but no other place I could see myself living.

BCM: How has living in Revelstoke influenced your photography?

RC: I was living in Canmore before and most of my winter was spent over this way anyway—between Golden and Rogers Pass. I always shot a lot of touring, splitboarding and ice climbing. Since I moved to Revelstoke, it has pretty much just been backcountry skiing and snowboarding, whether it’s at the resort, at backcountry ski lodges or up on Rogers Pass. So it is very powder-centric, it’s what I prefer and choose to shoot—natural terrain and the simpleness of backcountry travel, being out there and trying to capture some of those moments.

Scott Heale slashes a wind lip. | Revelstoke, B.C. | [Photo] Ryan Creary

Scott Heale slashes a wind lip. | Revelstoke, B.C. | [Photo] Ryan Creary

BCM: What is the best part of being an action sports photographer?

RC: None of these reasons are weighted more than another, but being able to stay active and do the sports you love, that’s a big thing for me. Being outside in nature. Sharing that with the athletes when you are out there with the people you want to hang out with. You create some great memories and shared experiences.

BCM: What is a challenging part of being a photographer?

Your whole schedule is up to you for the most part, so keeping up with that and planning things [is difficult]. Hitting up folks for shoots, that’s one part of it. And then there is the computer side, editing. I don’t think people realize the number of hours that go into the actual finished product. It is easily equal, if not more, compared to the amount of time I am out in the field shooting. When I first started, it was never that way. You used to spend a lot of time dealing with film, shipping it out, shipping it back and organizing it, but the whole processing side [now] and trying to get your vision correct through editing, that’s a challenging part of it nowadays.

BCM: How has the transition from film to digital affected your style?

RC: Half of my career was spent shooting film and it is different. Shooting film back in the day—I am really glad for that opportunity. It forced you to be really focused when you were shooting. You didn’t want to just blow through rolls of film. In terms of composition, I think it helps you train how you see things. And then the processing, thinking about exposure, those are all skills I feel like I learned shooting film for years and years.

I found that with the digital side, now you are not just taking a picture, you are processing it. All those years I spent shooting film—you have to really want to learn how to shoot film. Now I feel like digital processing is almost, not a barrier, but you need to learn how to spend time to learn that side of things as well. The editing takes hours just for one photo shoot. Now I feel like I have a finished product when I have done the whole editing process myself.

The mountains loom at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. |  Revelstoke, B.C. | [Photo] Ryan Creary

Peaks loom at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. | Revelstoke, B.C. | [Photo] Ryan Creary

BCM: How would you describe your photographic style?

RC: I try and take a pretty basic approach. When I am shooting, I think about what I want to shoot for the day and tailor what I bring with me based on that. Especially with these kinds of sports [backcountry sports], bringing a heavy pack with my full kit just slows down the whole process. I do that when I am on a commercial shoot or a specific assignment, but if I am just going out shooting, I am forced to look closer [at what I am bringing] as opposed to just grabbing whatever lens I think I might work. I am forced to see what I have. And I guess I am drawn to moody light and moody situations. I prefer to shoot stormy days rather than bluebird, sunny days—and the smaller in-between moments, the cultural side of these sports. Not just the action. Sometimes my favorite shots are the non-action images.

BCM: How has safety been a concern for you as a photographer?

RC: It is a big deal for me. I have had some really close calls. I have been able to walk away relatively unscathed. You are working in a dangerous environment and the longer you are out there the more exposure you have and your odds of [having something happen] go up. With this kind of career you need to be even more aware of who you are out there with. To me, no photo is worth anyone getting injured. You might be able to get a better photo of someone just airing off a small pillow if the light is right compared to a big cliff with a bad angle. The risk doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to get a better image.

For more on Ryan Creary, visit his website at

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