Name: Daniel Ribar
Hometown: Livonia, Michigan
Current town: Livonia, Michigan/Northern Michigan
Film and/or Digital: I try and bounce back and forth to keep things fresh, but I prefer film.
First camera: An old Polaroid camera I received for my seventh or eighth birthday.
Current camera: Leica R4 35mm and a 7D.
How long have you been taking photographs?
I started shooting my friends skateboarding and messing around in the fifth grade, and I have a bunch or random Polaroids even from before that. But I started to get serious around tenth grade, about eight years ago.
Thoughts about first images ever taken, describe them?
I just processed a roll from seventh grade earlier this year (below). It was really goofy, but neat; a lot of skateboarding stuff, images taken a moment before they should have been, but there’s something kind of interesting about them in that sense.
What do you see when you look at your work now?
I see a lot of color: that’s something I rely on very heavily now in my work. I started off taking black-and-white photo classes in high school and enjoyed them, but when I started working with color, I started to see images everywhere. I am extremely interested in relationship between colors.
What do you hope others will see, if anything? Their experience?
I’m not really sure what I hope others will see. I guess things that inspire them to explore and enjoy life.
And what do you look for in an image? What makes a great photograph for you?
I really like seeing images that remind you of the world outside your city, state, country or whatever boundary you happen to have. I think it’s really easy to stay in your comfort zone and I love seeing images of places foreign to me. Images that make me want to travel.
Talk about your interest in relationships between colors, the outdoors and travel?
I find myself paying close attention to color when I am back home, downstate in Livonia or Detroit. I don’t have the type of freedom that exists up north and end up shooting a bit more selectively, paying more attention to line and color. Of course I am conscious of colors and their relationships while up north, but I feel that when I’m home, I tend to stick around the same locations and don’t end up exploring as much as I do in the summer. Because I’m not canoeing new rivers or hiking fresh trails, that element of surprise is eliminated. I find myself looking closer at everyday objects and working with cropping much more, as well as color. I feel like this sort of season and location change keeps me in balance.
There are so many great artists out there its hard to hone in on any few but I would say in the past year, Bruno Zhu, Josef Albers and my friend Michael Burdick.
Favorite places online?
I try not to spend too much time on the internet, but I check out the Boooooom site a lot, S M O KE B A T H, as well as the Weather Channel, there are a lot of neat videos on there.
Young photographers who most inspire you now?
Most of the people from the list above inspire me very much, but there’s something about someone new to photography that I love. Anytime I’m invited to a birthday party, I bring a disposable camera as a gift and ask to see the images when they process them. I love looking at images shot by someone who has no background with photography, someone who has fresh eyes and no history or influence.
So where do you want to take your photography, or vice versa?
I just want to keep shooting and make more books for myself. I have a few I made last year, but I would love to make a book for each season and have a disc inside of the music I had been listening to at the time, so when I’m older I’ll have shelves full of books documenting my life with music to listen to while looking through them.
Artist’s Playlist: 12 tracks by Bob Dylan, Graham Nash, Built to Spill, Frontier Ruckus, The Microphones, Mount Eerie, The Beatles, Broken Social Scene, Bibio, My Morning Jacket, Smith Westerns, Little Wings, here: Featured Artist: Daniel Ribar
Talk about the Upper Peninsula, the role Michigan plays in your photography?
A great deal of my work is shot in the northern parts of my home state, Michigan. I have a good friend who lives in the tip of the Upper Peninsula in an old mining town with rivers, lakes and cliff jumps all around him. I also have a cabin of my own about an hour south of the Mackinac bridge in Gaylord, Michigan, where I spend summers and autumns with friends. We have around 100 acres of woods, trails, and a small private lake, so there is a sense of isolation and freedom that really sets my mind at ease.
Friends and I will make trips up that are comprised of dirt bikes, fireworks, guitars, fishing, rifles, swimming, campfires, relaxing and anything else we feel like doing. I have been making these trips my whole life, and at first I started to shoot photos just to document these trips, a lot of very straightforward Polaroid shots of fish that had been caught, or group shots when we first arrived and then before we would leave, just so I would be able to remember who was there at the time. But as the years went on, I started to really use this piece of land as kind of my own large-scale studio. Here, I have the opportunity and freedom to shoot whatever I want to, whether it is a shot as simple as my grandfather’s old axe, sticking into a poplar tree, or something as bold as a friend launching a dirt bike over a mound with another friend firing a rifle in the frame.
The fact that this freedom exists on the property really excites and inspires me and allows me to focus on this love of nature I have along with the love for my friends. I’m trying to capture as many memories as I can, and if others are interested in the images I have captured, I’m honored.