Ryan is a product of the Rocky Mountains. Born in New Mexico and raised in Colorado, he feels at home wherever mountains scratch the sky. After graduating from the University of Colorado, in 1999, he worked for a decade in the ranching and outfitting industries. That career took him from the Andes Mountains of Argentina, to the Northern Rockies of Montana, even to the Sayan Mountains of Mongolia. Along the way, he moonlit as a writer for Western Horseman Magazine, a cowboy culture magazine founded in 1932.
Today, Ryan works full-time as a journalist and documentary photographer based in north-central Washington State. In 2015, Ryan was named a Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow for a project in Russia and Kazakhstan, and in 2018 was recognized as a National Geographic Explorer for an ongoing project in Uzbekistan.
Ryan's editorial work has appeared in National Geographic, Bloomberg, VICE, Town & Country, Columbia Journalism Review, Outside, Men's Journal, among others. His writing has been awarded at the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards (2012, 2014, 2016), the Equine Media Awards, and the Newhouse Mirror Awards (2020). His photography has been shortlisted for the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year (2016, 2017).