About Me

I am gifted. I'm not gifted in the sense that everything comes easy for me, but more like I'm gifted in being able to see that big, bright beautiful tomorrow. You know what I'm talking about: that future that we all dream about as kids. The one where people live in peace. The future, where suffering is a rarity rather than accepted, and worries are small and superficial. The future that we all deserve...I can see that, and it is beautiful.

It would easy to mistake this gift as pure naivety, and to a degree I would agree with you. To face the world we live in and see more good than bad, you need a certain amount of innocence in your soul. You need to see the facts that tell you that everything is wrong and you can do nothing about it...and challenge it at any cost.

It is that innocence and pure stubbornness that has guided me and shaped me into the man I am today. It has pointed me into the direction of teaching and digital storytelling. I write. I take pictures. I film. I study. I teach. I do it all to make sense of this expansive world I live in and to give me the courage to not accept the horrible things as something I can't change.. I've been learning my entire life, and I intend to never stop learning. There's so much out there that I don't understand, and that inspires me.

That world is so huge and magnificent, and that has given me the burning desire to travel and see it for everything it has to offer. The spark came in 2008, when I made a very spontaneous decision to study abroad during my university study. Ever since, I've had that itch to fill my passport with stamps and flood my hard drives with pictures from abroad. I've had the privilege to travel to 12 countries on 5 continents, and my adventure has hardly begun. In an effort to chronicle my adventures, I started 'Adventures of the Orange Sweater' in 2010, named appropriately after a ratty orange sweater that has managed to tag along as my travel buddy all these years.

My film career has been a whirlwind experience that has taken me to places like Thailand and Kenya, all in an effort to capture stories that me and my team found inspiring and interesting. I majored in Screenwriting in 2010, but started getting behind the lens shortly after. That's when I discovered the power of images.

We get the majority of our information about the world through our eyes and ears. As we evolved, we started manipulating what we see and hear as a way to express our inner emotions. Language, dance, theatre, photography, painting, music: they all are capable of striking chords in our inner being where conversation and traditional means of communication fall short. It is a means to convey what we feel about the world, and a way to immortalize emotions in ways even artists can't imagine.

That's what attracted me to photography and film. A photo is a moment in time that is captured forever. It breaks all the rules of our comprehension of time. When I see a photo from years past, I can remember and recall all those emotions I was feeling at the time. I am transported from the present to the past, and how I saw the past is determined by how I take a photo. What did I value then? What did I think was beautiful? What story was I trying to tell?

Film takes the mechanics of photography and adds a storytelling dimension to it. There is something so rewarding in taking a story written on the page, capturing images and audio for that story, and transforming it into a sensory experience that jumps off the page. Film requires me to wear many different hats. Some days, I am a negotiator. Others, I'm a writer or cinematographer. And sometimes I'm a listener, where my sole job is to absorb the scene and gather information about my subject before a shoot. That kind of multifaceted job gives me personal fulfillment and always puts a smile on my face...even after 12 hour days and that never ending feeling of job insecurity.

Making the jump to teaching, in a way, was one of the most natural career decisions I've ever made. In my work, I've always prided myself in how I work with children. To tell you the truth, I'm still a child at heart myself. I love to have fun. I laugh and smile often, and sometimes I get impatient and even distracted by shiny objects.

Working with children has always been natural for me because it's familiar to me. I believe that we are all teachers in a capacity. We all want to benefit one another and instill our knowledge on those that are actively interested in what you know. Teaching children and navigating the challenges of being a child in order to teach effectively isn't only fun for me: I feel fulfilled by it. Seeing a child light up when they understand something, or having them write you letters that break down any emotional shields you might have...that's powerful. I take the job of being a mentor very seriously.

I also know that there are many people out there much less fortunate than myself. I know the importance of giving back, and I try my best to do that. The people that I am able to help are people that do not require pity or condolences. It is hard for me to pity them because, at a fundamental human level, I can see how happy they truly are. They count their blessings rather than what they don't have. They have dreams like you and me. And when they smile and see you, they love you without condition and without expectation. I know that I can never give them enough to pay them back for the lessons they've taught me about what it truly means to be happy. That's what we're all looking for in this world anyways, right? To be happy?

I told you before that I was gifted. I think I'm wrong...I'm not gifted. I'm blessed. I live the life I want to live, and I have had the fortune to do some amazing things. My journey isn't over. In a way, it's just getting started. I have so much to learn and see and do, and I'm looking forward to every minute of it. In the vein of one of my biggest influences, Pixar, I say to you: Adventure is out there! Now go out there and have a new one!

- Ryan

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