Book Review: Schude by Ryan Schude

Book Review: Schude by Ryan Schude

 © Ryan Schude and Lauren Randolph

© Ryan Schude and Lauren Randolph

By Leah Pfenning

Schude flaunts a decade of imagery by the man himself, Ryan Schude. Renowned for his wacky, chaotic tableaus and vibrant color schemes, this debut monograph is fodder for the light-hearted, yet high-arted amusement. Every page boasts clever portraitures bursting with intricate and humorous narrative and an obsessive attention to detail. Despite the initial feeling of chaos when looking at a Schude image, the very aesthetic of his work beckons you to linger, all the while one discovers more and more in an absurd sort of adult Where’s Waldo.

 © Ryan Schude

© Ryan Schude

Ryan Schude is an LA based photographer who has created a unique, high-contrast tableau aesthetic for photography. He works with an array of clients for commercial work while also building a large and continuing collection of personal artistic works. Schude creates miniature worlds frozen in time. Each character in a Schude tableau has their own story. Often there is no obvious or even existent through line for the characters in the tableau to denote their need to occupy the same time and space.

 © Ryan Schude

© Ryan Schude

Schude’s work is hyperbolized, but still grounded in reality. The photographer says he often starts with a place, object, or person he finds interesting and builds off their inherent truth, pumping his initial subject up until becoming a clown version - then Schude creates their circus around them.

Goofy bedlam aside, one can’t ignore the mastery in Schude’s work. The lighting is dramatic and intentional, the creative thoughtfulness is other-wordly, but my hat really comes off to the impeccable timing that is apparent in every photograph. The sense of life and movement in the work makes it exciting to engage with, almost as if you turn away and you’ll miss something.


There is minimal text in this title, a foreword and introduction both written by friends of Schude that offer up a friendly and informing insight into the photographer’s process and who Schude is. There is no denying the celebration of being alive in the imagery, and working with that sense of abandon is a much needed breath of fresh air. Schude is not only a delightful contribution to the art world, it is a gratifying reminder to play.

 © Ryan Schude and Lauren Randolph

© Ryan Schude and Lauren Randolph

 © Ryan Schude

© Ryan Schude

 © Ryan Schude

© Ryan Schude

 © Ryan Schude

© Ryan Schude

 © Ryan Schude

© Ryan Schude

 © Ryan Schude, Dan Busta, and Collins Schude

© Ryan Schude, Dan Busta, and Collins Schude

 © Ryan Schude

© Ryan Schude

 © Ryan Schude and Lauren Randolph

© Ryan Schude and Lauren Randolph

 © Ryan Schude

© Ryan Schude

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