Better known as @novess on Instagram, Ryan Parrilla is a 16-year-old photographing prodigy. Hailing from New York, he uses Instagram as an outlet to share his work with people around the world and connect with other photographers. Over the last year, Ryan has sold out his first run of Limited Edition Prints, worked with global brands and has been featured in numerous publications – including NYPost, Business Insider, Huffington Post and Australia’s Today Show.
In February, Ryan partook in our WOMMA #WineWednesday panel discussion during Social Media Week New York, and we recently caught up with him to discuss his rise to becoming an influential content creator and the best way for brands to connect with the Generation Z audience.
360i: When did you start sharing your photography on Instagram and why did you choose that platform?
RP: At the age of seven, I picked up my first camera and began taking photos of objects around the house. Shortly after that, my parents surprised me with a professional camera. It was great, except I didn’t know how to operate it. My parents decided that until I learned, I wasn’t allowed to bring the camera outside of the house. Pretty discouraged, my interest in photography began to fade until I started playing with the camera on my sister’s iPod touch and, around the same time, discovered Instagram. For me, it all fit together – my ability to take photographs, have a place to share them and get inspiration and support from others. Aside from being a major catalyst for starting my career, Instagram has allowed me to develop relationships with individuals from across the world – both on the screen and in real life.
360i: Your community on Instagram has grown quickly since you started posting photos, what kind of content do your fans react to best?
RP: I’ve noticed that my followers favor cityscapes and street work the most. For many people, these shots are magical, as New York City is such an inspiring place. But, I often try to add new kinds of content every now and then to see what others types of images my fans may find appealing. For example, I often ride the subway and do my best to catch portraits of people as the light comes through the cars. While my followers may not always connect with those photos as much as a bridge photo, taking a wide range of photos is what I enjoy doing. At the end of the day, I post the images that I love.
360i: How would you best describe your style, and what helps fuel your creativity?
RP: I would call myself a street photographer, mainly because I’m from New York City and that is where I have the most photo opportunities – although I try to not box myself into one genre. My creativity is mostly fueled by any environment where I find myself, as well as all the people around me. One example is my recent trip to Mexico where I was able to capture an incredible shot of seagulls while on a ferry with my family.
can’t wait to travel again soon! A photo posted by Ryan Parrilla (@novess) on
360i: What is one of your all-time favorite pieces of content that you’ve created and why?
RP: The short answer: something that is original to me. It can be anything – a kid biking around a puddle in a park, or a helicopter hovering above One World Trade Center. These are my favorite types of photos because they reflect what I truly love, and they make me feel compelled and inspired to shoot every time I step out of the house. Each picture represents a unique time and place for me.
360i: What do you think marketers understand the least about content creators like yourself?
RP: We like to have as much creative control as possible, and make sure that the completed work aligns with both a brand’s image, as well as our own. It’s extremely important to me for the work be authentic, so all audiences recognize the image to be consistent with who I am as a creator, how I shoot and what I see in the brand. This final product will result in clear connections between the consumer, the brand, and me because the content is real and authentic!
360i: You have mentioned in past interviews that you are open to working with brands. What type of brand opportunities interest you the most?
RP: I’m interested in brands that are open to my point of view and at the same time can teach me something. I am a city kid. I love it and am inspired by it, but I also want to take in the rest of the world. I want to be assigned to projects that I can learn from and create memories during, and travel across the world doing what I love.
360i: Other than brand work, what are you interested in achieving as a photographer?
RP: I want to inspire other talented young people from around the world to do what they love, until they make something with it. This past year has been an unbelievable journey for me and makes me think anything is possible in life and I should continue to dream big. For my own professional goals this year, I want to continue working with brands and get my work featured in more galleries – both in America and abroad.
360i: If you could give one piece of advice to younger content creators what would it be?
RP: Don’t do what’s cool, do what you love. And don’t waste time thinking that you can’t achieve your goals at a young age, because anything is possible.
Follow @novess on Instagram.