Film photographer and filmmaker Will Fryar offers tips for aspiring student artists

In the colossal sea of post-grad potential, ASU's blooming artists can often be heard pondering their futures and asking the same questions: Where do I begin? Where can my work be seen? How can my voice be heard?

Will Fryar, who recently moved to Chicago after spending three years making films and photos around the Phoenix metro, said Phoenix is an excellent place for such budding artists to find community and bloom.

"It feels like a big city, but it’s kind of a small pond, and you can easily become a big fish," Fryar said. "As opposed to places like Chicago or LA, where you’re a small fish in a big pond. It's harder to gain traction and get noticed there."

Fryar, who started shooting film photography in high school, moved to Gilbert for a filmmaking job in August 2012, said he and his wife didn't get strongly involved in the community until about a year and a half later.

Like many other local photographers, Fryar said he was finally able to make connections through the complementary communities of Instagram and coffee. In fact, he attended one of the first Phoenix Instameets at Cartel Coffee Lab in June 2014, an event that served as the catalyst for his intimate engagement with the Phoenix creative community.

"It was a whirlwind of shooting and meeting people; I did that pretty heavily for like a year," he said. "I started meeting so many other film photographers and wanted to start a collection of my friends' work." 

Thus, the Phoenix Film Collective Instagram account was born.

A photo posted by @phoenixfilmcollective on

Although the account is still growing, Fryar has accumulated over 13,000 followers on his personal account, @cityonfilm, where he continues to share his ongoing adventures and connect with both the creative community at large and those who, like himself, have chosen film photography as their primary medium. 

Fryar's advice for college-aged photographers is to get engaged with Phoenix's thriving creative community while also working with the connections they already have.

"Get into a community and start shooting your friends, but also telling their story with your photographs," he said. 

Fryar said those young creatives can be a huge part of not only expanding the current community, but building it to be even stronger than it already is. 

"Start hanging around the right places and meeting people," he said. "People are really open to that and welcome to that."

In addition to his advice for building community, Fryar offered tips for growing as a young photographer on a personal level and developing stylistic and technical abilities. 

He said photographers should seek out quality cinematography and emulate on-screen techniques in their still-work. 

"Macbeth is a movie that I'm drooling over," he said. "Every frame is a photograph. It can teach you a ton about exposing and composure."

He said the same applies to Ida, the Oscar-winning Polish film that was shot entirely in black and white. 

"Photography is hard, but cinematography is a whole other level," he said.

Of course, he also encouraged blossoming student photographers to seek inspiration from others in the field, both locally and nationally. Some of his personal favorites are Jeremy Okai DavisChris Strong and Crackerfarm

Finding inspiration, technique and prominence in a sea of talent can be overwhelming, but people like Fryar are proof that a major key to managing it is in the discovery of a smaller community.

"I think the Phoenix art scene as a whole is super welcoming for new artists," he said. "Phoenix, as big as it is, is still starving for that community to rise up, and I think it is."

The photography community at ASU as well as those across the Phoenix area have a lot of events on the horizon that can serve as a perfect starting point for finding companionship and inspiration.

Photography students will be showcasing their work in "Not Good With Words," which runs until April 1, and "On The Wall," which will show from April 18 to 22. Additionally, the ASU Photo Club will be hosting a silent auction on April 1, where they will be selling photography and art from students, alumni, faculty and other local artists. 

Phoenix Art Museum is also preparing for another in-depth photography exhibition featuring provocative work from Arizona-based artist David Taylor, which is set to run from May 28 to October 16. 

You can also check out Femme Fotale's "Girl's Imprint" exhibition at the Drive-Thru Gallery starting April 1. 

Related links:

'Ten Worlds' explores complex Buddhist concepts on a simple canvas

Art students to explore sincerity of human experience in 'Sonder' exhibition


Reach the reporter at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or follow @lina_lauren on Twitter. 

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