Selective Focus: Ryan Tischer


This week in Selective Focus, we feature photographer Ryan Tischer. Tomorrow (Saturday, September 3) Lakeside Gallery will host an opening of Ryan’s work, and he will be the featured artist there through September.

R.T.: I do landscape and nature photography of North America, with a concentration in our Lake Superior region. My goal as an artist is to capture the emotional essence of a scene. Like many, I feel a strong spiritual connection to nature. I use this connection to guide my artistic choices when considering a scene behind the lens. Composition, exposure, filters, and so forth are all essential considerations, but the one variable in outdoor photography that cannot be forced or overtly manipulated is the light. For this reason I find myself waiting for hours at a given location and often returning time and time again until I find something magical in the light that finally makes the image. As in life and photography, light is everything. Without light from our sun we would not have life on this planet and I would certainly not be around to take pictures! I try to keep that in mind when making images and hope it comes through in my work.

"At Day's End" - captured along the Western Waterfront Trail in Duluth's St. Louis River Bay

“At Day’s End” – captured along the Western Waterfront Trail in Duluth’s St. Louis River Bay

Photography began for me as it does many, a hobby. In high school and college I enjoyed making images in a variety of subject matter and enjoyed shooting 35mm film and working in the darkroom. Eventually I found that photographing the natural environment was the most appealing to me and fit my passion for the outdoors. With money from my high school graduation and various jobs I purchased my first digital SLR, a Nikon D70. In college I majored in communicating arts and minored in photography at UW-Superior. While still in college I tried out a few local art festivals and found some success. It amazed me that people were willing to pay for my work! After graduating I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and decided that then was as good a time as any to see if I could make it selling my photographic artwork. Making a living selling luxury items to the middle class wasn’t an easy task in 2008! People were very hesitant to spend money with the recession and housing crash, but after doing over forty shows that year I made enough to pay the bills and invest in some new equipment. My wife Aimee and I now work out of our home in West Duluth where we do all of our own printing and framing. My current camera of choice is the medium format Pentax 645Z.
"Breaking Through" - captured in Jay Cooke State Park, MN

“Breaking Through” – captured in Jay Cooke State Park, MN

I started getting serious about photography in high school, which would be the early 2000s. I’ve been making my living through selling photography since 2008. In 2014 my wife, Aimee, left her job in mental health to work with me full time. I take the pictures and frame the large pieces of artwork while she helps with the business side, setting up and tearing down at art shows, and making all of the matted prints. She’s also a musician and plays in a couple of groups in town.

"Lupines on Fire" - captured along Lake Superior's North Shore

“Lupines on Fire” – captured along Lake Superior’s North Shore

I love being my own boss and having complete working independence. It’s great to be able to travel and spend time in the outdoors and have that be a major part of my “job.” It’s very rewarding to know that someone else connects with your work enough to purchase it. Sometimes people find special meanings in my images. When someone is moved by my work it makes me feel really good. A lot of people with day jobs talk about retirement, but I don’t ever plan on or want to retire –though at some point I’ll probably want to slow down a little!

"Magical Morning" - captured at Bond Falls in Paulding, MI

“Magical Morning” – captured at Bond Falls in Paulding, MI

Anyone who is self-employed knows the many challenges, which include uncertainty in income and staying constantly self-motivated. When you work from home sometimes the line between work and personal time can get pretty grey. At times I’ve found it difficult to take time off, which leads to burn out. When you’re self-employed there’s always a long list of things to do, but it’s impossible to accomplish them all. Prioritization and balance are things that I’m learning. For example, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay to just sit and enjoy a sunset without feeling obligated to take a picture.
"Shamrock Aurora Borealis" - captured north of Duluth

“Shamrock Aurora Borealis” – captured north of Duluth

My work is available for purchase on my site The site now has an integrated artwork building tool where you can choose the framing for each image and see the artwork displayed to scale on a wall. You can even choose your paint color and which room in the house to display the art.

I also make updates on my Facebook page

My work can be viewed in person and purchased at Lakeside Gallery in Duluth, MN, Quirks in Nisswa, MN, and Gallery on First in Rochester, MN. Publicly my work is on display at the new St. Luke’s Surgical Center and Essentia’s Newborn NICU in Duluth, Cornerstone State Bank in Cloquet, and Volunteer Services of Carlton County in Carlton, among others.

Upcoming art festivals:

Wausau Festival of Arts – September 10-11 – (Booth #TBD) – Downtown Wausau, WI

Lakeville Art Festival – September 17-18 – Lakeville Area Art Center – Lakeville, MN

Octagon Art Festival – Sun, Sept 25 – Booth #36 – Downtown Cultural District – Ames, IA

Festival of Trees – November 12-13 – DECC – Duluth, MN

In September I will be the featured artist at Lakeside Gallery, with the opening reception on Saturday, September 3rd from 1-3pm. In November I will be part of a UW-Superior alumni photography exhibit at Kruk Gallery (details to come). I’m also hoping to participate in downtown Duluth’s Pop-up Storefront Program again.

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