Featured Photographers Series: John Ryan Hebert

Featured Photographers Series: John Ryan Hebert

“All art should inspire and evoke emotion. Art should be something you can actually feel.” - Charles DeRubeis

Motorcycling has always given off an air of romanticism . Whether it's a lust for freedom, the open road, rebellion by harnessing a machine deemed dangerous by society, or the comradery of fellow riders. There’s no shortage of reasons that explain our  draw to motorcycling.

For nearly all of us, there is a defining moment that began our love affair with motorcycles. For some it could have been a photograph, a scene in a movie, a moment in life where a motorcycle left an indelible mark.

The advent of social media has given many talented commercial and lifestyle photographers an instant outlet and ability to showcase their work while influencing and shaping the modern image of motorcycling. It's important to recognize these talented creatives and the impact their contribution of art has on our industry.

John Ryan Hebert

In John’s own words:

Art serving capitalism – this was the mantra of Jeff Goodby and Richard Silverstein - the force behind one of the world’s most famous and creative advertising agencies, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, in San Francisco, California. It was at their company that I took my first job as a minion fresh out of school with a BBA in advertising in 2011. I was wide-eyed at my first advertising job. We were building creative as a team for Chevrolet that the entire world would see. A sponge, I wanted to see how every arm worked together.

My curiosity led me onto the set of a Hybrid Chevy Tahoe photoshoot in Detroit. It was here that I fell in love with the process of actually creating still images with purpose. From the sidelines, I saw how the production team shaped light, composed a scene, and captured stunning photos in real time. I had messed around with film cameras for years, but this was an entire different level. I knew at that point that I was doing the wrong thing. I wanted to actually make stuff. But, making that transition seemed like it would be an impossible endeavor. For years, I felt trapped. It seemed like I accidentally boarded the wrong train that had already left the station.

Fast forward to 2014, a move from Michigan to California immediately birthed my love for motorcycles. I started exploring the State on two wheels to familiarize myself with my new surroundings, bringing a camera with me everywhere I went. Slowly, I began to amass camera equipment. Through the motorcycle scene, I began connecting with other riders. These people became the new targets of my lens. Soon after, I accidentally booked my first freelance job in the motorcycle industry. That job paved the way for me to start working with other companies. Very quickly I was working as a photographer on the side, on the weekends and sometimes at night. I finally did quit that advertising career, jumping ship in early 2019 to set off on my own. Since then, I’ve worked with clothing companies, OEMs and aftermarket suppliers to build and create visuals for catalogs, social media, web, magazines and more. I haven’t looked back. Every project I get involved with is special to me, because I truly enjoy what I do.

What I love about photography, and in particular commercial photography, is the ever-changing work environment. I’ve been on high pressure projects where I only had one chance to nail one shot. I’ve been in fun, relaxed, group settings where we just capture a feeling together for an entire day with the client. I’ve also been on rigorous campaign shoots where we have a massive shot list to work through, like a challenge. I enjoy them all the same.

My inspiration comes from every day life. Ideally in my work, I want the viewer to not feel like they’re looking at a photography, but peering into the real world. I like to capture real moments that are believable and relatable. I love simplicity. I enjoy the way just the sun interacts with objects and people.

I think “art serving capitalism” is such a great north star for thinking about commercial photography. At the end of the day, we’re trying to make the client’s products look as good as we possibly can. It’s not 100% all about art, and it’s not 100% all about selling stuff. There’s a perfect marriage in-between. And when you nail that sweet spot, that’s when you’ve got it.

To see more of John's work visiti: https://www.johnryanhebert.com/

Follow him on Instagram @johnryanhebert

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