We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Chua and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, what do you attribute your success to?
The most important factor behind my success is the ability to adapt to changes. Some people are terrified at changes, I’ve learned to embrace it. There are always new opportunities that come with changes that people miss out when they decide to run away from it.
I changed careers from pharmacy to photography and social media. It was a scary move but I knew it was a life I wanted for myself. The new opportunities that came with it were more exciting than continuing my pharmacy career and living someone else’s dreams. It’s better to say “oh yeah I did that” rather than “I wish I did that.”
When Instagram first appeared on my radar in late 2010, I hopped on it and started sharing my photos. I knew some established photographers were afraid to push their content on any social platforms, while some stayed on with Myspace or Facebook Pages which made them fall behind in marketing their portfolio to potential clients on Instagram. When TikTok started becoming popular in the US in 2019, I jumped on it too while everyone was dismissing it as a dancing app for Gen-Z kids. I ended up as a Brand Ambassador and built a huge following. By the time the pandemic came into full swing, I was already established while everyone was just hopping on. I just reached my 1 Million followers milestone recently.
You would be amazed at the new opportunities that come your way if you decide to embrace change rather than live in fear of it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have been shooting fashion and lifestyle photography for the last 11 years. When I first started my photography journey, I tried everything from wedding, family, portrait, nature photography and realized that I had a passion for fashion photography. I was intrigued with the art you’d see in Vogue and V Magazines, and I decided that was what I want to do. In my first year as a photographer, I worked on improving my skills and building my network of peers and mentors, as well collaborating with makeup artists, hairstylists, wardrobe stylists, and designers. I knew money would come later as I focused on improving my craft and building my network. It finally paid off when the creatives I’ve collaborated with started referring me to their clients. Building a presence on Instagram also was a big factor in acquiring new clients and collaborations. Since then my photography career took off to new heights where I can be selective with which clients I’d like to take on.
The journey was definitely not easy. I remember having $6 on my bank account (I actually saved it as a screenshot) and was in disbelief at how broke I was. I literally was a starving artist. I would not recommend going that route. Be sure to be financially responsible and have savings and emergency funds at all times before a career change. It is also good to have mentors or talk to established creatives in that field before you jump into the creative world and learn from their mistakes.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love to eat. My favorite places to hang out in Los Angeles would be places that have my favorite restaurants. Sawtelle has the best Japanese restaurants like Tsujita and Marugame Udon, Koreatown has the best KBBQ and Korean fried chicken spots, and WeHo/Mid-City has brunch gems like M Cafe, Met Her at a Bar, and Republique.
I would definitely recommend hitting the beaches after. My favorite beaches to hang out (and also shoot) are Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and El Matador in Malibu. We are blessed to have such beautiful spots to hang out that’s just a quick drive away (non-rush hour times of course).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to shoutout Shirley Ye (@itsshirleyy_ on Instagram) for bringing out the best in me and re-awakening my intellectual side. I also would like to give a shoutout my cousin Mike Chua (@jetsetchua on Instagram), who has been a crucial part of my adulthood. He has helped me so much with life, relationship and financial advice, and just being there for me in my ups and downs. Last but not least, my family. I would not be where I am today without them.
Every person in my life has given me a lesson or a blessing and I am grateful for that.
Other: TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@flip4realz