Malaysian Born and Raised Photographer Hustles into New York City

Ryan Liu, 24, a born and raised Malaysian is making impressions in the photography industry in New York City. In just three short years after graduating from school, Ryan’s work has glazed through many international and national publishing titles in the United States.

Currently based in New York the one-man band equivalent photographer has endured many hardships, loneliness along the way.

“I took the leap of faith and moved to The Big Apple with only $400 to my name and with no connections, everything had to be started from ground up.” said Ryan.

“Despite being surrounded by dozens of great people on set, being a photographer can and will be extremely lonely and pressuring as you are often times working as an accountant, producer, agent, and other roles all by your self when starting out.” Ryan added.

Ryan Liu who was brought up in Petaling Jaya hailed from a medium sized family comprising of three siblings with their parents. Ryan didn’t start having interest in photography until he attained the age of seventeen when he forayed into photography owing to extreme pressure by his classmates.

“There always this magical sensation that I had never felt before whenever I saw those images being previewed in front of me, it felt like I could create an art without actually “creating” it.”

Ryan then started spending more and more time with the camera and eventually begin to take up small photography assignments around his town to pay for his next gear purchases. Even though Ryan’s parents offered him full support, they were reluctant to accept his decision to pursue a major in photography for college.

“They always said that photography could only be an avocation and not a vocation occupation especially in Malaysia, I took their advice and went ahead to pursue a major in Business” said Ryan.

While Ryan was completing his second year of school in Malaysia, he was granted a partial scholarship from Arizona State University (ASU) to take part in a degree program in Business Communication. At the Arizona State University, Ryan was offered to work for the school’s newspaper department called The ASU State Press.

Ryan’s first eye opening experience in the photography industry came by when he was an intern for a local fashion magazine company.

“I was assigned one day to help out on set as a production assistant for one the magazine’s cover shoots and it was 18 years-old Gigi Hadid that was invited to be on the cover! I wasn’t particularly amused by her presence but instead I was found engrossing the experience of shooting for a magazine. The lighting, the collaborations between the stylist, make-up artist, prop stylists, set builders, and photographer were nothing I have seen before growing up in a small country.”

The exposure he received from the real world of photography during his internship was a calling for him. He realized that was his great passion for photography and decided that New York City is the ticket to a career in photography. However, he knew he needed to earn a “legitimate” degree to keep his parents happy before he could do what he wanted to do. He finished school, packed up his bag and moved to New York City.

The first couple of months in the new city were not going in his favor without a strong photography portfolio and limited connections. With the extremely high cost of living in the Big Apple adding in, Ryan knew he needed to start everything from the bottom of the totem pole.

“I knew getting into the industry wasn’t easy as I was lacking of the technical skills. I was aware of what I need to improve and immediately reached out to as many photographers as I could to be their assistant. That’s the best way to learn the nuts and bolts of the industry.” he said urging all aspiring photographers to consider this route.

Things then started to take off from assisting and now Ryan is currently working with some prominent clients such Conde Nast Traveler, The Daily Front Row, Architecture Digest, Downtown Magazine, Coach, Eater, Billabong and much more. His works were also posted in several publishing companies such as Billboard, Buzzfeed, HuffPost, Refinery29, Modern Luxury, Allure magazine and so on.

Ryan Liu was also recently awarded as a winner for the American Photography (AP34) Chosen competition, which is conducted once in a year. It is one of the most prestigious awards in the field of photography in the United States.

“It wasn’t an easy road to get where I am today. By all standards, I didn’t pursue a stable career path and being a minority in a country with a widely white-dominant industry, by no means will it get easier. I could whine about how hard life is but the truth is nothing good comes easy.” Said Ryan.

“I had to find my way to New York kicking, clawing, scratching through all sorts of obstacles with the support of my family and friends who, god bless their hearts, believed in me more than I believed in myself at times and made tremendous sacrifices for me.”

He then added, “Yeah, it is hard, being only 24 relying 100% on freelance assignments, it is always terrifying when the phone stops ringing and emails aren’t coming in for weeks but in the end, being able to do something I love and still make a living” He quipped. “There’s really nothing better than that.”

For more information, visit:

Media Contact
Company Name: Justryanliu Photo
Contact Person: Ryan Liu
Email: Send Email
Phone: 480-322-1288
Address:51-46 48th Street
City: Woodside
State: NY 11377
Country: United States