Ryan Steed

Ryan Steed is a Memphis-based photographer and educator whose emphasis lies in documentary photography. He has recently exhibited work through Arkansas Arts Center, Drawl Gallery, Crosstown Arts, and Amos Eno Gallery. He has an upcoming solo exhibition in Zebulon, Georgia taking place during Slow Exposures this fall, and his work has been published by Amnesty International and #Photography. Steed teaches darkroom and social documentary photography courses at Memphis College of Art. His interests range from analog photographic processes to digital media, but his first love is black and white documentary photography. He believes the greatest photos are made from the side of the road.

Went Out For Cigarettes

“I can understand why Southerners are haunted by their own landscape and in love with it.” ­—Walker Evans

The title of this series may be the old cliché of someone walking out the door one day on a random notion and never returning, but it also poses the question of what one might find on such a journey. I have been in search of the South I know — not only as a region but also as a concept. Went out for Cigarettes encompasses four states, but regardless of the geography, these images share a familiar physical and psychological landscape.

Southerners are constantly witnessing things dying away. Right before something breathes its last, be it landscape, structure, or conviction, we try to revive it, forever trying to grab hold of a fleeting moment.

This region takes pride in its definition unlike any other place in the country. Southerners are curators without white gloves. The region is eternally trying to save face. The South doesn’t go out to fetch the mail without putting on makeup. We repress certain elements of our past: our politics, our religion, our sexuality. While at the same time, we praise all these things. This region is a didactic contradiction.

To view more of Ryan’s work please visit his website.