Havin' a yarn with Ryan Hermes
Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I was born in Eugene, Oregon, and now live in Paducah, Kentucky. There have been quite a few stops in between: a number of cities and states and a few countries.
What have you been up to since you graduated from Grenfell? I see that you're working as a photographer in Kentucky. How have you found yourself there?
I'm a staff photojournalist at a newspaper in western Kentucky. News and breaking news are my main beats, along with a healthy dose of sports: we cover a NFL team and athletics at more than a dozen high schools and a Division I university.
Working at a daily, my assignments range from pretty extraordinary events to simply capturing the everyday life of my community.
I've gone through Secret Service screenings (which are about as thorough as one would expect) to photograph presidential candidates and also crawled on my belly to photograph turtle races (which are about as exciting as one would expect).
My photographs have run in the largest publications here and up north, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Globe and Mail and Maclean's.
Since graduating from Grenfell, I've also worked at newspapers in Nebraska and Wyoming.
What has been the highlight of your professional career?
It's a privilege to be able to help tell the stories of the residents of my community. Even more so than speaking with a reporter, allowing a photographer to make your picture entails an immense amount of trust. It's an honour every time I earn that trust.
How did Grenfell prepare you for the work you're doing now?
The course of study, assignments and classroom discussions in the Social/Cultural Studies program offered a fantastic foundation in both qualitative and quantitative research. What I do every day is essentially what I studied for four years – except now I do it with a camera.
But even more valuable, I believe, are the friendships and relationships I developed at Grenfell.
There are the friends who continue to do increasingly amazing and inspiring work – in Newfoundland and abroad. Even though their fields are as varied as the performing arts and public health, their successes encourage me to continue to improve in my own craft.
And then there are of course the professors, whom I pestered in class, then during – and before and after – their office hours. Passion is contagious, and I credit – or, depending on the day, fault – the folklorists, anthropologists and sociologists at Grenfell for the passion I apply to my own discipline.
What would you tell someone who is thinking of going to Grenfell?
I was both an international and transfer student – having grown up in the U.S. and having previously studied at a liberal arts school in New England.
Grenfell was a fantastic choice for me. I have friends I made at Grenfell who continue to push me to improve. I have coursework under my belt that I call upon on a regular basis. And most importantly, I have former professors who still take my phone calls at all hours of the day and night to offer advice and encouragement.
What do you like to do when you aren't behind a camera?
I enjoy travelling – whether it's to a new city or a new country.
During the months when the humidity isn't suffocating, which are few in Kentucky, I also go camping, hiking and backpacking.