How Ryan Mamba turned a smartphone obsession into a career

Photograph of Hohenzollern by Ryan Mamba

Technology has the power to expand creativity. It can both broaden horizons and free up time. We speak to Ryan Mamba, whose self-taught approach informs his unique take on creativity and reveals how tech has enabled and propelled him.

Have you ever snapped a photo on your smartphone and thought, “Hey, I've really got any eye for this”?

You’re not alone. Sophisticated and easily accessible cameras combined with self-learning tools such as YouTube tutorials have helped democratise creativity and transform even the most amateur photographers into professionals.

From amateur to professional photographer

It’s a very familiar story for Ryan Mamba, a Singapore-based photographer and filmmaker who has turned his hobby of capturing experimental iPhone snaps into a full-time profession.

“It all began in 2015, when Instagram really started to take off. I was looking for ways to get involved, saw a really nice sunset right outside my house and snapped a photo with my phone,” Ryan said.

The photo was popular on Instagram, and it wasn’t long before Ryan was spending every weekend searching for possible locations on Google Maps to take new photographs and grow his photography obsession.

“As I got more exposure over the years, I eventually got paid and realised I could actually make a career out of being creative.”

Ryan Mamba

Ryan co-founded the PRSPCTV media production company, and his work has since attracted more than 80,000 followers on Instagram, capturing the attention of big-name clients such as Apple, Samsung, Porsche and Bentley.

Learning through trial and error

As most creatives will testify, practice and experimentation are necessary to break new ground and take your craft to the next level.

Ryan’s picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that have helped him in this pursuit.

“In the beginning, I was only using mobile apps to edit my photos, and I wasn't really happy with the outcome of the edits, because back in the day, these applications didn't really have much flexibility. It was more of a preset filter over the photos that I shot,” he said.

Through a mix of trial and error plus countless YouTube tutorials, Ryan carved his own editing niche upon discovering Adobe Lightroom.

“As I got better in Lightroom, I started delving into Photoshop and eventually into Premiere Pro when I wanted to expand my skill set into video. As I grew as a creative, I just started exploring more of the Adobe Cloud applications.”

Technology not only launched Ryan’s creative career and gave him the tools to develop his unique style but also improved his creative flow.

Photograph of NYC by Ryan Mamba

“I love masking subjects in my photos and videos, but with so many of the new masking tools available in Photoshop and After Effects, a task that would take me hours to do before now takes me less than 15 minutes,” he said.

“I can spend less time going through the repetitive and boring tasks and more time being creative.”

Ryan Mamba

Focus on the fundamentals

Despite having tens of thousands of social media followers and working for big-name clients, Ryan credits his success to not focusing on external success metrics.

“A lot of younger people that are just starting on Instagram, they do it because they want exposure, they want followers, they want likes,” he said.

“I didn't focus much on that in the beginning, because it was more of an outlet for me. I wanted to create, I wanted to shoot, and it was all because I enjoyed it, and it didn't really matter to me, if this photo wasn't doing very well.”

His advice for aspiring photographers is to work on the fundamentals first, and the rest will follow.

“Try to nail them, because without fundamentals it's really tough to get creative. Don't focus so much about hitting the big numbers, the followers, or if you're not getting enough views. Every day take a little step closer to where you want to be. I would say that’s more than enough.”

Want to hear more? Join Ryan Mamba at Adobe MAX, a global virtual experience exploring creativity in all its forms, or see more of Ryan’s work in the Adobe Virtual Gallery.