Ryan Bolger is an artist- it is in his soul, it is how he lives his life, and it is his entire being. He speaks about his art with a passion that is absent in many people. La Porte County and the whole of Northwest Indiana has been fortunate enough to experience and benefit from his cultured view and artistic ability. He is a writer, actor, and photographer- simply put, he is an artist.
"I am an artist, I love what I do, I aim to inspire others. I've seen it all personally & I've accomplished quite a lot professionally - but at the end of the day I am aiming to inspire others.,” Bolger divulged.
Before he and I even began to touch the tip of the ice berg, he offered me a disclaimer. As an artist, he lives not to promote himself, but the beautiful world we live in. He wanted this article, along with everything he produces, to inspire others and give a young budding artist or anyone with a dream positive momentum to push towards it and actually follow his/her dreams. With that in mind, I set off to learn more about the ever-evolving life of Ryan Bolger.
Bolger was born on the southside of Chicago, and from there lived a nomadic life with his family living in fifteen places throughout four different states. Attending elementary school in California, Chicago, and then Notre Dame. He then commuted three hours to attend Mount Carmel High School, where he served as photographer and photo editor for the newspaper and yearbook. This nomadic upbringing fueled his artistic being.
“It had an impact. At an early age, I learned not to think with a small mind. I realized that the world is big, and that it is okay to dream big and imagine.”
His sense of movement ebbed into his adult life as well. After a brief stint at Columbia College in Chicago, Bolger headed out to California to study at The Brooks Institute of Photography. Bolger left after the death of his brother and best friend, but sustained his artistic thirst.
“I have had this dream since I was four years old. I grew up around cameras. I knew I wanted to be a photographer and I knew I wanted to act. I just knew that I wanted to be a part of that world,” Bolger explained.
When I asked to describe what his profession is exactly, Bolger had to chuckle. He doesn’t have a linear career or a defined position. His different roles and positions seep into each other. Ultimately, he is an artist that owns a business.
“I am a professional photographer. But I also am an actor- I work in TV and the movies. I am a writer-I write for magazines. I guess I am a professional artist.”
Bolger’s main project is his photography, which is splashed across the web and spans the entirety of America. His pictures capture moments of love, hardship, joy, and beauty.
“Photography has the ability to make people aware of the moment. With that moment there could be many things-it could be positive or it could be negative. It can impact somebody’s heart and soul. It can agitate. It can teleport people to a party or place. There are many things that I love about it. But above all I like that it can impact people in a real and pure way,” he divulged.
Bolger explains that his photography is constantly in refinement. It is a process that he throws his whole life into that will not end.
“I hope to wake people up; Show them life and what is happening around them; Inspire them to get out and travel. It really comes down to touching the human condition and showcasing the natural beauty of planet earth. It really is a celebration of life.”
Bolger has had many profound moments throughout his career, and pinpointing a favorite is a difficult task. He is the St. Patrick Day’s Parade photographer, he was the 'Mayor's Photographer' in “Boss” with Kelsey Grammer, he has traveled the whole country, had his first billboard, and recently photographed legendary Bears Coach Mike Ditka for Overstock.com, he photographs destination weddings, people, and places every and anywhere- just to name a few.
“The beautiful thing about what I do is that I never go back. I often reach these moments where I'm like ‘Man did that just happen!?’ then I'm like ‘Yes it did’..... then I just get back to putting my head down focused on creating the best work that I can...regardless of subject matter and I keep dreaming and keep on pushing for the future while still not allowing myself to get lost or derailed in the present....it's all one big Journey that is "The Road" to being a professional Artist.”
He draws inspiration from movies, music, magazines, food, people and quite simply the life around him. But something has been changing that bothers Bolger. The burgeoning growth of self proclaimed photographers that photograph with little meaning, inspiration, or goal. Bolger often feels that is disrespectful to the game of professional photography and the craft of creating art; yet, this cheapening of the word “photographer” fuels his desire to create something profound each day. However, he does not discount the popularity of smart phone cameras and apps such as Instagram that allow moments to be captured anywhere easily.
"It's one thing to work your whole life to become a professional photographer and it's totally another thing to go out and buy a camera and say and act like you are with zero education and zero experience," Bolger explained.
He offered this important piece of advice:
“If you have a feeling that you are an artist and need to create something, you have to wake up and do it. You can really not care about what anyone else says. You cannot listen to the critics. Focus on the one person that tells you yes, and that should be yourself. The rest is incredibly hard work and commitment,” Bolger advises.
Bolger had a gallery in Michigan City for three years before closing it in order to continue traveling and pursuing photography. However, he mentions that this area is simply beautiful. This year will be a blockbuster year for Bolger. He will continue to photograph weddings across the country, and will head to Alaska to run a photography workshop; he even has a project brewing in India. One thing is for sure, Bolger will continue to capture moments throughout the world for the duration of his life, but he will always remain a product of the area.
“I see my talent as a gift to help illuminate a lot of the life that’s out there that would normally go left unseen. I believe in Truth...I also believe in being able to highlight it in a creative & unique way...as that is what being an "Artist" is all about,” Bolger ended.