Photographer Ryan Hopkinson uses in-camera tricks to create surreal imagery

From a young age, Ryan Hopkinson was fascinated by documentary and war photography, but he knew very quickly that he could never do it himself. Following various jobs assisting other photographers in London, and after receiving guidance from several mentors, he realised that his “mind and approach was more focused on constructing imagery.” He would be a “terrible documentary photographer” he concedes, though this is no longer a concern for Ryan, who has found his own niche between arts and commerce. Having gone from strength to strength since first studying photography, he has worked for and collaborated with a host of high-profile brands including Rimowa, Rolex, Issey Miyake, Louis Vuitton and Craig Green, among others.
The latter two, both recent projects from this year, gave Ryan a chance to truly express his creative approach to photography and moving image. His work for Louis Vuitton allowed him to adopt a series of experimental techniques to showcase the brand’s new products. In one campaign, inspired by the idea of “reaching a higher plain, both conceptually and physically”, Ryan utilised a large drone to carry iconic Louis Vuitton luggage high into the air, providing motion in a shoot that would typically be static. “We really wanted to create something that was surprising and hopefully unexpected for the audience,” he explains. “I’ve been wanting to use a drone like this for a long time. I’ve used them on commercial shoots and they are such a great tool.”
Experimenting with the drone in this way came with its own challenges, however. Finding a model that was capable of carrying up to 15 kg proved to be problematic and this was made no easier by the weather the team experienced during the shoot. “There were regular strong gusts of wind and it was blowing consistently around 85km/h,” recalls Ryan. “Which is great for kitesurfing, but not for hanging very expensive objects off of equally expensive drones.” The rough breeze also whipped at the nearby dunes, kicking up sand and threatening to ruin the drones’ sensitive components. “As always, working with an absolutely amazing local team and experienced drone pilots made everything much easier,” he says.