Interview with Ryley Clarke for 2022 CCP Summer Salon

Photography by Ryley Clarke

Ryley Clark is an emerging photographer and filmmaker working in Wurundjeri Country. Since being introduced to a camera at age five, Ryley hasn't stopped capturing a wide variety of subjects including live music, portraits, travel, lifestyle, documentary and personal narratives.

We chat with Ryley about how the influence of people and place hold equal importance and how social media has influenced the way Ryley creates and shares work.

Waiting to burst (2020)

Hello, what is your name and background?

Ryley Clarke: My name is Ryley Clarke. I’m an emerging photographer and filmmaker, living and working in Melbourne, Australia (Wurundjeri Country). Like any kid growing up throughout their youth, I’ve always had my portrait taken of me by my mum and dad. But around 5 years old, I was first introduced to my very own camera and haven’t stopped making photographs since. 18 years later, this childhood interest has led me to turn my lens towards a variety of subjects, including live music, portraits, travel, lifestyle, documentary and personal narratives.

What is the story behind your submitted works?

RC: This year I submitted six photographs from a diverse archive of stories and ongoing bodies of work that are in development I’ve produced throughout 2020—2022. When I sequenced these photographs together, I felt they represented some of the most distinctive, creative and meaningful moments I’ve captured over the past few years. Somehow, all of these stories felt connected through this thread of identity, the human condition, place, community, time and serendipity.

What does photography teach you about how to live?

RC: I’m constantly making photographs, every day, all the time, which has given me so many opportunities and life experiences I’ve dreamed of, so it’s hard to single out an exact answer. This past year has been difficult for me because I have just come out of a mental exhaustion experience. It’s been a slow process of recovering and trying to get back to the things I enjoy doing most. But this experience directed me to find new ways of thinking and seeing, to trial new materials, and push myself outside of my comfort zone. It led me to appreciate the small details that give life to my photographs.

My Great-Grandfather in his youth (2021)

Which is stronger to you the influence of people or the influence of place?

RC: I have to go with… both! I’m definitely drawn to individuals and the world around them, especially how places of meaning shape us as individuals, and how people shape their environment to express themselves or feel comfort. These concepts of people and place are very much interconnected and woven into my ongoing body of work, Off the Well-Worn Path, which explores the transformative experience of clearing a childhood home.

Has your use of social media changed or influenced the way that you create, share or view your work?

RC: I think the experience of sharing my work on social media has led to a significant change in recent years and has opened up some amazing opportunities. I enjoy the convenience and flexibility of distributing my work on platforms like Instagram, but I’ve found it can be super challenging to navigate. At times, it certainly feels restricting and spoken by what’s trending and commercially desirable rather than what’s engaging and culturally meaningful. However, I still have a sweet tooth for printing my photographs whenever I can. And at the end of the day, that’s where I’d rather have my work exist.

Do you have an Instagram or website where people can view or purchase your work?

RC: You can find and purchase more of my work at and @ryleyclarke.

Sleep Eyes (2020) (Winner of Vanbar Imaging's Best Use of Natural Light Award).

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