During COVID: Geo Rittenmyer and his son Ryatt Snap a Vibrant Series of Monster Trucks

May 28, 2020
Photographer Spotlight

As COVID-19 has interrupted daily life, people from every profession have had to figure out ways to be productive — and photographers are no exception. Each week, we'll share stories from our members about how they're staying mentally and technically sharp during the pandemic.

Through the strange and chaotic currents stirred by the coronavirus pandemic, a romantic notion percolates and pacifies troubled minds — some of us are spending more time around our families than we have, maybe ever. For photographers, this has sprung many a personal project involving their houses, kids, and significant others. Seattle, Washington-based photographer Geo Rittenmyer recently teamed up with his son Ryatt to put together a vibrant series of photographs of his model monster trucks, shot in their front yard — "Monsters."

Geo and his son, Ryatt's collection of model monster trucks on Geo's website.

The brightly colored background theme began with Geo’s own Sunglass Stories project. The project features glasses of his reflecting the places they were first worn, over vivid neon backgrounds.

Sunglass Stories, a project by Geo Rittenmyer showing sunglasses reflecting the first places he wore them.

The idea stemmed from wanting to photograph things around me that had meaning. Isolated to the house, I spent a lot of time watching artists that inspire me online who weren’t usually online talking about their work. This brought back the connection to photography as an artistic outlet and not just work — allowing me to want to create and challenge myself.

The Grave Digger monster truck.
The world-famous "Grave Digger" monster truck, from Geo and Ryatt's series, "Monsters." 

A significant portion of Geo’s professional work is portraiture photography — a specialty that has taken a disproportionate hit compared to concentrations like landscape or product photography. No one, it seems, was spared in the canceling of gigs that came with self-isolation ordinances.

When this first hit, I was getting ready to ship my gear cross country for a portrait shoot...when those jobs get canceled for an unknown time — it makes you step back and look at what’s next... Now that I have more time to create and no way to produce portrait shoots, I’ve changed the way that I look at creating product and still life. I’ve taken a new liking to it as art for myself and it has been a way to stay sane and feel productive.

Geo has taken a remarkably inspired path through the impact of COVID-19 on the photography industry. His passion for photography shines through his description of life in self-isolation.

It’s hard, but rather than worry about when or even if the next job is going to come- I’ve found myself following a daily schedule for the first time in my life and making time to create. I’ve been focused on inspiration, where it stems from, and making the most of what’s around me.  I’m not necessarily taking photos of what I think I should take a picture of for clients — instead, I’m having fun documenting and experimenting… I know there will be a lot of amazing creative content that comes from this, and I look forward to seeing it.

This isn’t the first time Geo and Ryatt have combined forces. When Ryatt (now, four years old) was two, he modeled for Geo’s Wild Child project: a story of a young lad and his wolf brother, Buksnort, running through an imagined world. This project was a way of examining society’s stigmas surrounding only children. In Geo’s words, “This storyline may be a want for my son to follow me in my life decision, or maybe it’s the idea that an only child would be infinitely lost in this world.”

Ryatt and his wolf brother look at their reflections in a puddle in the desert sand.
From the project "Wild Child," featuring a then two-year-old Ryatt.

Ryatt apparently developed an “obsession” for monster trucks at the ripe age of two, after seeing a music video about them. Later, he attended live Monster Jam events (loud, exhilarating, and insane spectacles), and traveled with his miniatures on vacations. So, how is it that a four-year-old has garnered such an extensive collection of monster trucks — with twenty-six unique models making an appearance in "Monsters?" We turn to young Ryatt, himself, for the answer:

My mom and dad would give them to me as rewards. 

Geo and Ryatt working on the Monsters project in their front yard.
Geo and Ryatt working on "Monsters" in their front yard.

Can you imagine how awesome this must have been?

Ryatt admiring a print of his Monsters series.


Check out more of Geo's work at georittenmyer.com.

Check out our other great photographers on our Find Photographers page!

Check out how WM is helping photographers during the pandemic on our COVID-19 Resources page