Interview by Steve Roe
Capturing the streets of Asia, Ryan Mamba not only brings a clean, sophisticated approach to street photography but also reimagines the world around him, developing dystopian futures straight out of a Inception-induced nightmare. As well as his mind-altering image composite works, Ryan has a keen eye for geometry, finding patterns within high rises and apartments. We spoke to Ryan about his work and his thoughts on street photography in Asia.
First of all, let’s talk equipment, what do you use to shoot with?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV and recently got a Mavic Pro Platinum. I use a couple of lenses which include the Canon 16-35 f2.8, Canon 24-70 f4, Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS and the Sigma 50 f1.4 ART.
Where did your passion for photography come from?
It started when I was serving my national service in the army 2 years ago. I saw Hypebeast featuring photos of urban landscapes and grew an interest into the aesthetics of architecture in cities. Living in Singapore I was blessed with beautiful buildings and unique architecture which allowed me to grow my passion for cityscape photography. Ever since then I’ve been exploring the little red dot and also travelled abroad to cities like Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong capturing the different cultures as I go.
Let’s talk about the worlds that you create, where do you find the inspiration for the creations and talk us through your favourite ones?
Currently I’m really fond of compositing photos and manipulating landscapes to create crazy perspectives of places that seem familiar. A lot of these photos are inspired by movies like Inception and Doctor Strange where cities and buildings are flipped on top of each other creating whole new dimensions. Another huge inspiration of mine is Demas Rusli. His Instagram posts are constantly inspiring me to think outside the box and push my imagination to the next level.
Here are 3 of my latest favourite creations, all of the photos within the composites were shot on Lion Rock peak in Hong Kong.
Last December my friends and I decided to hike up Lion Rock for sunset. We barely made it up in time but were lucky enough to still capture some really amazing landscapes. The dense cityscape in Hong Kong was really fun to manipulate. The goal of these images was to create impossible worlds through my imagination with the inspiration of my favourite movies. Being a fulltime student in a local university in Singapore has taken up most of my time. I did not have the luxury of shooting and exploring every weekend like I did before which was why I wanted to dive into something new such as photo manipulation. All of the images were first edited in Lightroom to achieve the colours and tone, after which they were combined in Photoshop.
You’ve shot in some of Asia’s best cities for street photography, which are some of your favourites and where do you feel is underrated?
My favourite cities to shoot for street photography are definitely Hong Kong and Tokyo. The vast condensed and busy streets of Hong Kong create great opportunities for capturing people in motion. People chasing for trams, taxis stuck in traffic, you name it. In Tokyo, it’s quite the opposite. Even though streets are busy and there seems to be always something happening around the corner, things are more systematic. Both cities are unique in their own ways with rich cultures that can’t be found elsewhere.
One city that I feel is underrated for street photography has to be Shanghai. Shanghai boasts loads of really cool architecture and is known for their crazy tall buildings, however things on the ground can get quite interesting as well.
Some of your pictures display incredible geometry, which is one of your most recent favourite images?
This was shot in a local residence here in Singapore. The architecture in this building is one of a kind and the height of the building really adds depth to it. The protruding staircases add texture and create implied lines that lead the viewers eyes to the abyss below!
Finally, any tips or tricks you could give to photographers just starting out?
Focus on crafting your own style and have fun. Don’t pay too much attention to the quality of your work just yet. Compare your work with others to find what your images are missing however don’t be too hard on yourself as your photos will have to be different in order to stand out! As you have fun and practice more and more your photos will eventually get better!