If you believe the chatter, the only thing more compelling than the depth and breadth of Ryan Creary’s outdoor photography is that he could easily be the subject of most of it. Indeed the competent 42-year-old kayaker, mountain biker, and climber once had his sights set on a pro snowboard career—which moved him haltingly west from New Brunswick on Canada’s East Coast, through a university stint in Ontario (Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation), to Whistler, British Columbia, on the other side of the country, where he spent eighteen months multi-sporting jobs in the terrain park, in a climbing gym, and as a mountain bike guide.
He followed that up with a year in Calgary as an outdoor recreation programmer by day and freestyle coach for the Alberta Snowboard Association by night. Somewhere in there he discovered photography and, by the millennium, was firmly on the other side of the lens. Here he quickly forged a signature friends-in-the-mountains style that began in the labyrinthine folds of the Rockies around Canmore, Alberta, where he lived for a decade, and continued from the more central base of Revelstoke, B.C., to which he moved in 2012 and expects to call home for a while.
Rather than being concerned only with a pretty picture—of which he nevertheless produces many stunning examples—Creary’s deep involvement in the sports that he documents frequently finds him training his eye directly on the subjects of these tableaux, capturing something ineffable about the act itself, whether it be a look of fear or focus, a pose of defeat or accomplishment, a pairing of hominid and his/her chosen tool.
Like most photographers of his generation, Creary has a strong passion for travel. Instead of relentlessly travelling the world as if his life and craft depended on it, however, he has proven more of a stay-at-home cultural documentarian, placing emphasis on the topography and tribes of his own backyard—the myriad ranges of western Canada. “As cliché as it is, I simply love where I live,” he says. “I’ve found the spot that feels like home and that brings me much happiness.”
It shows in his work, where both joy and grounding etch noticeable signatures. It is, in fact, Creary’s ranging so far, so widely, and so deeply into his backyard that defines the diversity of his experiential imagery—making him a true minister of the Interior.