For over a decade, Raleigh, North Carolina-based photographer Bryan Regan has been working on a personal project called “Morning View,” observing his hometown during the wee hours of the day when most people are deep in slumber. During this time, he has snapped photos of lonely convenience stores, meandering rail tracks, abandoned buildings, and orphaned shipping containers. He has also dedicated a healthy portion of this collection to photos of Raleigh’s skyline, painted with different shades of the rising sun. So, it was a most welcome coincidence when Walter Magazine, the heart and soul of the city’s publishing business, put a call for just those kinds of photos to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Bryan’s relationship with Walter Mag is an example of persistence paying off. Four years ago, he started a relentless campaign to win over the publication’s Creative Director Laura Wall, or as he’d put it,
I bugged the sh** out of her till she hired me.
His serenading proved successful, and with a body of work to support him, Bryan has been a frequent supplier of images to the magazine ever since. This past Fall, though, his work was done before it even began, all thanks to his personal collection.
Bryan’s personal works have a tendency to turn heads. They have always been exciting and thought-provoking, from one creative exercise that explored food in various states of debauchery to another where a human-sized panda roams around the capital of North Carolina. While “Morning View” comes across as more “normal,” it, too, is borne out of reasons both simple and compelling.
I tell people my “Morning View” project was started because all the other cool projects were taken. I also want to prove you could be anywhere and take a cool image. You didn’t have to be in a big city like NY or LA.
His photos serve as the largest body of evidence for this. Raleigh could be the city that does sleep, but still, convey character and personality through an experienced hand behind the camera. A blur of tangled lights across Raleigh’s skyline, visible while dashing through the highway, could signal the city’s drunken stupor. Or a jogger racing past a decrepit structure could indicate the aging parts of the city are still clinging to life, no matter what. Raleigh’s got its fair share of stories to tell, and for years, Bryan caught most of it every single morning.
During this decade-plus stretch, Bryan would usually shoot between 6 and 7 am, having the streets all to himself while waiting for his 6:30 am train commute. Day by day, photo by photo, he’d collect pieces of Raleigh on the way to work, changing his route if needed to find some novelty or oddity that the city would serve. It could be a building on the verge of being torn down or a weekend event just about to be put up.
Some days I’ll shoot only one frame, and on others, I’ll shoot over a hundred. Some mornings I know where I’m going. Others I do not. If it’s raining, I’ll shoot from the car or a parking deck. If I know something is going on during the week, I know just where I’ll end up and shoot.
A project of such scope also presents countless learning opportunities and challenges, all of which Bryan relished through the seasons. He’d go handheld during hot summers and lean on a tripod during frigid winters. Some days the light was perfect and fickle during others, giving him the chance to wiggle around with the camera settings, whether it was the noise reduction or ISO setting. So much seems to be outside a photographer’s control when shooting outdoors, but with practice and experience, a skilled hand may bend the elements to produce interesting results.
For Bryan, those results ended up on the cover and pages of Walter Magazine, continuing a longstanding relationship with the publisher that is sure to bear more fruit in the coming years. He also heads into 2023 and beyond with a slew of insights, some that are meaningful, and some that are obvious.
Sometimes the picture is not in front of you, but behind you… Also, you meet a lot of strange and interesting people that early in the morning.
See more of Bryan’s work on his website.