Ryan Spencer Reed - PhotoJournalist

Ryan Spencer Reed (b. 1979) is an American photographer whose journey documenting critical social issues began in 2002, in east Africa. He worked in that region documenting the Sudanese Diaspora, entering South Sudan and Darfur over numerous years from regions where refugees sought shelter in both Eastern Chad and Kenya. In late summer 2004, he returned home to find an audience for this work in universities, museums, and galleries throughout North America in the form of traveling photographic exhibitions and lectures. They became the cultural backdrop for symposiums designed to grapple with the issues facing the Sudanese people. The Open Society Institute and Soros Foundation awarded him with the Documentary Photography Project's Distribution Grant in 2006, to help this work reach additional audiences.

While exhibiting and speaking internationally on the subject of Sudan, Reed has photographed extensively on the themes of empire and the hubris of power amidst the twilight of the American industrial revolution, which is touring in exhibition form. Since Spring of 2012, Reed took on a long-term project on the modern incarnation of the Band of Brothers: 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne through training and a deployment to Afghanistan. The work aims to catalyze a dialogue on the dissonance between the myths and realities of war.

The immersive photographic and audio installation was unveiled in its entirety at ArtPrize 2014 in the Grand Rapids Art Museum and was selected by the public as one of the top finalists out of 1,536 entries. More than 220,000 people stood in line to see Reed's exhibit during a three-week period. This same body of work was recognized by Pictures of the Year International for World Understanding. In addition, Reed was recently voted the winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Public Award 2015 by a wide margin. He was one of 50 photographers from around the globe shortlisted for the award out of 1,689 entries and one of only two from the United States.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Despite Similarities to Reality, This is a Work of Fiction

As an embedded storyteller, I accompanied the modern incarnation of the Band of Brothers through over two years of training, a deployment, and their return home in an effort to tell the story of one of the last units to deploy with a combat mission in Afghanistan, ending the longest running war in US history, Operation Enduring Freedom. This traveling exhibition offers a glimpse into the idea of enduring freedom; revealing a gap between the ways most Americans consume war and the realities from within the ranks of those charged with implementing our foreign policy.

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Shades of Grandeur:
The Last Bastion of the American Dream

A specter of hubris haunts the only superpower: still trying to be the Arsenal of Democracy while it drowns in the wake of unsustainable business practices and policy following World War Two. These images are the product of a pilgrimage to rediscover values and the dream left behind in America, yet which somehow lingers in the dim and murky light of history. What remains are apparitions of empire: haunting, seductive, and alive with ghosts.

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Sudan: The Cost of Silence

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to stand by and do nothing."
- 18th century parliamentarian, Edmund Burke

In the wake of nearly three decades of brutal civil war, the population of South Sudan lies shattered and strewn across the Central and East African landscape. More than two and half million people have been killed and another five million have been internally and externally displaced by the conflict. As of July of 2011, South Sudan has achieved its independence, seceding from its oppressors and has become the newest nation on the planet. Since January of 2003, however, a new exodus flooded the western border region of Darfur in Sudan with displaced persons fleeing the same regime responsible for the southern tragedy. Despite the fact that the United States has formally labeled this diaspora genocide, the killing continues unchecked, threatening to shed blood on every grain of sand.

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Detroit Forsaken

These are not the ruins of Rome, nor the tombs of Egypt. While the echoes of the past resonate, this community is extinguishing in the present. The story of Detroit is one of the most significant representations of a nation in transition. It's place solidified in the mantle of history as The Arsenal of Democracy and Motown. As a photographer, it is the place where I began an anthropological exploration in the spring of 2009 through a kind of architectural archaeology. This is a story about things left behind painted with a heavy heart - a story told amidst the death of the American Industrial Revolution.

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All images and text, Copyright © Ryan Spencer Reed
For print sales, exhibition bookings or speaking engagements please call +1.202.810.3075 or email photo@ryanspencerreed.com