by Allie Misch
We had the honor of working alongside two bright creatives, photographer Ryan Benyi and stylist Bridget Henry, for our fall 2014 cover shoot. Watching their creative process, we could hardly believe it was their first time working together! We sat down with them after the shoot to pick their brains about their creative process, career highlights and give you all a behind-the-scenes look at our "Day of the Dead" shoot. Get to know Ryan and Bridget:
Hi Bridget and Ryan! Tell us a little bit about yourselves:
Bridget Henry: What I am, above everything else, is a creative. I am a professional makeup artist and a food/prop stylist; with work published in leading magazines, top advertising campaigns and featured films. After living in NYC I began to see beauty in every plate of food I was eating. It was my love for the culinary world that led me to branch out into food and prop styling. My knowledge in fashion and diverse visual influences have led my styling to a simple but captivating aesthetic with a lust for color, texture and light.
Ryan Benyi: I am originally from the east side of Columbus (a graduate of Fort Hayes High School and Ohio University). I am a commercial photographer whose work focuses predominantly on food, environmental still life and location photography. I love food and it seemed a natural progression of my work when I began to turn that passion into a career shooting it. I work for many national magazines and food brands and have basically spent my whole career working in New York City.
How did you get started in your career?
B: From a young age I always knew I would end up in the artistic world, whether being fashion, art, make-up or photography. College years under the belt plus a great number of years working at Henri Bendel really cemented my desire to excel in this field and knew exactly what I wanted to be: a make-up artist. Having traveled the world as a freelance makeup artist and having also worked under the best of the best in the industry whether being movies, fashion shows, entertainment, etc., have really allowed me to grow in this field and at the same time explore similar fields where beauty, creativity and art direction is required. Nowadays I find myself exploring and working as a stylist, prop/food stylist and makeup artist.
R: I interned with an Ohio University alumni who was a working photographer in New York when I was a junior as part of my VisCom Photography major at Ohio University. It was an amazing and eye opening summer. New York took my breath away and I couldn’t wait to return to its energy and market. Three days after my college graduation, the Uhaul was packed and back I went. The market was solid in the late 90’s and it was a wonderful time to enter the industry. I’ve had a lot of help from established shooters and producers over the years and I thank each and everyone of them for the opportunities that have come my way by knowing them. Lots of travel and many years later I am still happy for the assistance I had in those early years finding my place in the commercial photography world and gathering experience and technique from those jobs, photographers and travel opportunities.
What’s the best part of your job?
B: Seeing the reaction of my clients once they see how anything given the right placement, look, care, thought a even lighting can be the most beautiful thing. It was always brings a smile to my face their amazement and know they are satisfied with the end product
R: I think the part I love the most is taking a concept and turning it into a visual finished product. Having a client look at the final image and say “Yes, that is exactly what I had in mind.” I love using the camera to tell a story. I think that is what I love the most. My job is always a collaboration with my client and team. I get to take ideas and turn them into a creative finished product that we get to experience as a final image.
Working in the creative industry, how do you stay inspired?
B: Inspiration must be constantly fed and grown, but most of all you must want to get inspire by the world around you. I do my share by constantly learning about artists, fields and new techniques being developed. Social media now a days has allowed to explore from the smallest to the most exciting thing going around. I will say however that sometimes, just taking a break from it all and enjoying what you have around will inspire you the best. Nothing better to create things that a clear mind and happy heart
R: I feel very lucky to work with such a variety of creative people in my industry. So many wonderful Art Directors, Creative Directors, and Editors have paved the way for the enthusiasm I now feel for my work. I have many fellow photographer friends and as a community we feed off each other. We are somewhat competitive in a positive way and push each other to stay current and most importantly have fun while we work. I have a wonderful group of associates and friends who are food stylist in New York and others who have been chefs at top restaurants in Manhattan. Their talent inspires my daily love of food and cooking and they often keep me very well fed!
What’s been the highlight of your career at this point?
B: As my career has started to branch out in recent years with great success, I will say that working in the movie industry as a makeup artist was probably my career highlight. Stars such as Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Hurley, Kristen Stewart have all gone under my makeup brushes. As a prop artist and stylist, I believe having been given creative control in the design of the production set for video and TV commercials is certainly a ratification of my talents and trust given to my eye for detail and beauty.
R: I’m not sure this is the highlight of my career but one of the greatest weeks of my life was spent being paid to eat and photograph my way across North Carolina’s Historic Barbecue Trail for a national magazine. I still can’t believe I made money and met so many fantastic pitmasters eating one of my favorite foods on the planet. North Carolina knows how to prepare barbecue pork in a way that blows my mind. From Statesville to Ayden I loved you all.
Name your go-to meal to cook at home:
B: Eggs! Weather it’s a fried runny egg, an omelette or a quiche. They are great anytime of the day, and you can be so creative with the fillings. And who doesn’t love an amazing egg dish!? And of course anything my husband grills; that is easy, just sit and wait.
R: I love making marinara sauce from whole tomatoes. Something about all the simmering, love and garlic that always makes me smile. Carbs make me happy, so the homemade sauce and pasta always hits the spot.
What is your dream goal that you would like to accomplish in your career?
R: I think we all work hard to be respected and understood by a jury of our peers in our industry. Working toward that goal is always sometime I consider. I want others who know what this process is like both creatively and from the business side to say, I know him- his work is beautiful and I love working with him. The accomplishment I guess would be working toward that level of recognition.
B: I would have to agree with Ryan on this one. Gaining respect and recognition for what you do has always been a goal of mine. I think as a freelancer is very important to establish a good name for yourself. And it feels wonderful to know when your peers enjoy working with you.
Take us through your creative process with this shoot - inspiration to execution:
R: This shoot was a wonderful collaboration with the staff at edible and our stylist. The team at Edible came up with the concept to do a story focused on Day of the Dead food. They brought a wonderful amount of research and recipe development to the table. That is when photography and styling (thank you Bridget Henry for your amazing vision) came into play. We discussed a classy look and feel for the shoot and went to work. Bridget converted our words into fantastic props that would showcase the recipes. The shoot day was a fantastic gathering of minds. The photos came together with ease once we saw the recipes coming to life. It was a real joy to work with the Edible Columbus team and such a fantastic prop stylist.
B: Awe! Thanks Ryan. I totally agree. It was an amazing collaboration between all of us. I love when I do my prop shopping and everything kind of comes together naturally. I had a “squid ink” blue theme stuck in my mind. And it was awesome to find so many unique props to create our story.
If you weren’t doing what you are doing professionally right now, what would you be doing?
B: I probably would be a Florist or an Interior Designer. I love antiquing, and rearranging things in the house! Creating a fresh new living space is something I really enjoy.
R: I love the outdoors and am a huge fan of bikes and cycling in all forms. I love the idea of a combined bike shop and cafe concept. I’ve always thought a business that combined those ideas would be a fun pursuit.
Where can we follow your work online?
R: A great jumping off point would be my website www.ryanbenyi.com. I also have a blog at http://blog.ryanbenyi.com. Its title is "A View of Daily Life, Travels and Other Interests" and is basically that.