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Making it in Big Sky: Ryan Turner Photography

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Ryan and Angi have lived in Big Sky for 25 and enjoy the wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities in the area. PHOTO COURTESY OF RYAN TURNER

By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – Ryan and Angi Turner moved to Big Sky together and have called the community their home for 25 years. They love to ski, snowboard, raft, fly fish, hike, bike, camp, backpack, snowmobile, travel and explore Montana and beyond.

The Turner’s two daughters, Elia and Lily, were raised in Big Sky and attend Lone Peak High School and Ophir Middle School.

“We love and appreciate living in Big Sky and raising our family here,” wrote the Turners in an email to Explore Big Sky.

Ryan said he originally discovered Gallatin Valley when he visited on a ski trip during college. After graduating with a fine arts degree in 1996, Turner set his focus out West and followed his dream of having a gallery like Thomas Mangelsen in Jackson, Wyoming.

“I remember my parents thinking this was not such a good idea,” he quipped. 

Today, Ryan has his own gallery in a new location he just opened on Town Center Avenue. The walls of the space are covered in prints done in a variety of styles for sale in-person or online at ryanturnerphotography.com.

EBS talked with Ryan about his 20-plus year career as an adventure photographer in this gorgeous place we call home.

Some answers below have been edited for brevity.

Explore Big Sky: You recently moved your business to a new location, what prompted the move? What’s new at the new location?

Ryan Turner: We have had great success with many clients over the years. My craft and collection have developed to desire a space like our new space for people to enjoy. We have been waiting for a space that was the right size and fit to be able to show my work in the way I have dreamed of. This is that space.

EBS: How did you become interested in photography?  

R.T.: My grandma loved photography and I always loved art. My dad bought a nicer camera one year and he let me use it for some classes in junior high and I have been photographing ever since.

EBS: What is your favorite subject to shoot? 

R.T.: I have always loved capturing amazing high action images of skiing and snowboarding, but my heart is in nature. I love photographing trees and abstracts in nature a lot lately but also enjoy a personal moment with wildlife. It is hard to have a favorite subject when I really just love finding the beauty or intrigue in any moment.

EBS: In your opinion, how has the photography industry changed over the years?

R.T.: It certainly has changed. I worked for many, many years in commercial and editorial photography to pay the bills. More social media and web and less and less print has affected how photographers operate. Also, the market has become even more saturated. Everyone is a photographer now as we all carry amazing phone cameras with built in editing systems and effects. 

EBS: How do you prioritize shooting photographs for enjoyment versus shooting them for work?

R.T.: My shooting now is really not that work directed. I have always traveled with my camera close by while experiencing life. If something catches my eye or something unexpected happens along the way, I would capture it, not necessarily for work, but just because I was inspired. 

EBS: As a professional photographer, has your business approach adapted over time? If so, how?

R.T.: Yes, like all things in life, the industry has changed often through my career. In the beginning I chased work and now I just create work. I have managed to do well through the years focusing on what I loved to shoot and finding clients that wanted my work.  

Ultimately, my goal was to be able to create art or images and just sell my work. I have been fortunate enough to ride the ebb and flow to this point where my business is today. Nowadays, I primarily shoot for myself and try to grow as an artist and grow my fine art collection. I have wonderful clients who can’t wait to see what else I can create. I am happy to shift all of my efforts into my art world. This has taken many years of promoting and creating to manifest, but all of the hard work has paid off.

EBS: What advice would you offer to aspiring photographers?  

R.T.: Find passion in what you choose to shoot. The more you can engage with your subject, the more you can find the expression within the subject and capture that. 

EBS: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? 

R.T.: Manifest it and make it happen. No one else is going to do it for you.

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