Ry Ones is one of the hottest and best underground photographers capturing the best candid moments from around the GTA. Mainly focused on music and fashion, Ry takes part in cultural appreciation days downtown, and always shows his love for Toronto in any way possible. I’ve personally worked with Ry on numerous occasions and each time he brings the same determined demeanor to get the job done, and always executes. Ry has never shown me something I haven’t liked, and we’ve clicked from the start. I got to catch up with Ry Ones again, and follow up from our first interview we did back in December. Check out the digital Q&A below with street shooter, Ry Ones.
Maccadelic: Since we’ve last spoke your following online has gone up substantially, what’s the key to keeping people interested in your photos?
Ry Ones: Consistency. I try to put out my best quality content on a constant basis to remind people what I do. I feel like if I’m not doing that, then people are going to look elsewhere for what I do. For me photography goes back and forth from a hobby to a job. While I have fun doing it, I’m trying to show people that I’m really out here, that I want to be better than good enough and that I’ll grind to for that.
Maccadelic: How has working with BSMNT helped your photography career so far?
Ry Ones: Overall, my interactions with BSMNT has given me somewhat a sense of confidence in saying that my hard work is slowly paying off. Through BSMNT, I’ve been able to connect and work with some amazing people around the city. Nobody has helped me push my brand more than you guys, and for that I truly appreciate everything you’ve done for me.
Maccadelic: I know Vuhlandes is one of your big inspirations, how has his work inspired you?
Ry Ones: Vuhlandes‘ work speaks for itself. It’s A1, it’s uncensored, and most importantly I feel that it’s a true reflection of him as an individual. That’s my main goal as an artist – I want people to see me in what I create.
In this city alone, there’s probably thousands of photographers so there’s bound to be similarities. Standing out among so many people is a difficult challenge but I feel like the easiest way to accomplish that is to be yourself.
Not only has Vuhlandes‘ work inspired me, but his personality has as well. Seeing how he responds to hate taught me how to deal with that sort of thing as a photographer.
Maccadelic: Explain a little bit about UpEast Collective, what’s that all about?
Ry Ones: The UpEast Collective is something my friend, Abeer Hussle, and I came up with. I’ve been doing photography for a while now and I found out that he has a background in videography. We figured that we could build something great if
we put our skills and resources together.
Over the time that we’ve known each other, we both shared an interest in music, specifically music coming out of Toronto/the Greater Toronto Area. Neither of us are rappers but we figured that by doing what we do, we’ll someday be able to collaborate with the artists we grew up listening to.
Eventually I hope to add more creatives to our roster, in hopes to make our team that much more versatile. After all, the main intention of the UpEast Collective is to inspire people where we’re from to be somebody, also to show Toronto that we have talent on our side of the map.
Maccadelic: Who do you want to work with next? Any artists in the city you’re trying to connect with?
Ry Ones: Definitely Drake. But realistically speaking, I’m willing to work with anybody out here. Any of the artists I worked with will tell you that I go a hundred percent every time, and that’s because I genuinely care about their music and the branding of their image.
Maccadelic: What’s Ry Ones listening too on his way to shoots?
Ry Ones: I rely on my music to get me in my zone. Ironically enough most of my inspiration comes from Toronto and GTA based artists and that’s what I feel makes me appreciate the music up here so much more. I’m usually listening to Drake, Roy Woods, PND, Belly, Tory Lanez and also a bit of Dave East. He’s probably my favourite artist right now.
Maccadelic: How do you separate yourself from the rest of the photographers out here in Toronto?
Ry Ones: I know it sounds simple, but I do me. When I’m shooting and editing my work, I don’t sit down and force myself to be different, I just do what I feel like is ‘Ry‘. I think it’s pretty obvious when people try too hard to be different, like you can feel how it’s forced and unnatural.
Maccadelic: Your creativity is so crazy with your photos, without giving away any of your tips, what mental state are you in when you shoot, and when you get home to edit these pics?
Ry Ones: When I first started photography, a lot of people laughed at me and told me I was wasting my time. I guess after reaching a breaking point I got sick of it. I know it sounds cliche but back then all I wanted to do was prove those people wrong and make them regret sleeping on me.
While most of them came around now like two or three years later, that mind state stuck. I feel like people are either going to diss you because you’re too good or not good enough, and I’m just more comfortable with the first. But for that to happen, I need to put in the work and that’s exactly what I’ve been and will continue to do.
Maccadelic: What’s Ry Ones willing to try next? I see your dabbling into videography a little bit.
Ry Ones: I don’t want to give away to whole game plan but videography is definitely next on my to-do list. Being an artist is an endless process of improvement and I’m willing to learn any skill and take in any knowledge that will make me more versatile.
Maccadelic: Our experience with Robin Banks was phenomenal, to be able to sit around an incredible artist while he’s recording is an honour, and I’m sure you felt the same way. What was that experience like for you?
Ry Ones: Music got me through the hardest of times and because of that it’s a huge part of my life. Even my brother Paris is an artist. I’ve seen the work that goes into a song, and that includes the time spent thinking of a concept for it, writing a verse, coming up with a hook, getting it mixed, and even performing in front of crowds. Seeing the effort and stress these musicians go through makes me respect and appreciate what they do so much more.
When it comes to Robin, he broke it down to us how he operates in the studio, and that showed me how he takes his product and career seriously. I’ve been listening to his music for a while. He’s a huge name in our city and it was dope being in the same room and even shooting with him.
Maccadelic: What artists in the city have you been shooting for recently? Any hidden gems?
Ry Ones: The most recent artist I worked with was Jigsaw. I really like his music because he’s not like the other rappers out here. His songs are very melodic and I feel like that’s what sets him apart from the rest. As for the future, I have a few things lined up but you guys will have to wait and see.
Maccadelic: How do you keep your hunger day to day, and keep it challenging so you don’t get bored?
Ry Ones: Keeping that hunger going is one of my biggest struggles. The few people close to me know I lose it very often. I try to remind myself that I have a lot of people to prove wrong.
I’ve been through a lot of negativity up to this point and so much of it has been discouraging. I try to take the advice I find myself giving out – instead of quitting, fall back. Take a break and in that time you’ll feel how much you miss doing what you do and realize how much that means to you.
Aside from that, while I don’t know what exactly I want out of this, I want to make things happen. Before photography nobody knew who I was and now I’ve built somewhat of a small name for myself. Just seeing from how things used to be to now pushes me to take things further.
Maccadelic: And finally, how can you help Toronto’s culture? And build something that will last forever?
Ry Ones: My main goals are to make an impact on the city and make a difference out here. I live by the motto ‘inspire or retire’. I’ve been trying to push people to give not only photography, but new things a try.
As for helping our culture, I’m always reaching out to local creatives to work on something great. To develop the next Drake, or the next Legends League.