In high school, I dicked around. Upon graduation, I knew I wanted to tell stories. That was pretty much it. So, spread out on my kitchen table, with my mom leaning over my shoulder, I perused seven university acceptance packages for English and a couple for creative writing. I went with the package that offered me the best scholarship.
I left that fall, my car bursting with skateboards and bed sheets, for the University of Windsor. I studied creative writing (aka. I read a lot. Wrote a bit. And sat in circles critiquing other student’s half-baked, love-scorned stories 93% of the time). In the middle of second year, the house that I was living in with close friends burned down. (It’s a story that involves a friend cooking with grease and using water as a fire extinguisher. Also a dumb move.) That was the last straw for me living in the armpit of Ontario. I was out.
After transferring to Wilfrid Laurier University (in part for chasing a woman—a woman that just became my wife), I completed my English degree. More than the education, though, I worked as an editor for the school’s magazine, Blueprint. I also contributed to the award-winning school newspaper, The Cord Weekly. I was hooked. I wanted more. To see your name in print with a story below is intoxicating. The throes of publication addiction had taken hold.
That’s why I tell stories. It’s my drug of choice.
I decided if writing was the route I was going to take, I would do an authentic test run. Following graduation, I boarded a commercial plane for the first time and headed to Ghana. For three months I was a journalist trainer and foreign correspondent for Journalists for Human Rights in a Liberian refugee camp. I simply listened to their stories. Living with these proud, resilient refugees in this haphazard, 30,000-strong refugee camp cemented my desire to relay stories that had a purpose.
I enrolled in journalism school that fall.
Once again—although, sure, my education was enlightening—I started to work as a writer and editor. This time, however, with Sheridan’s campus magazine, TRAVIS. After eventually becoming the editor-in-chief of TRAVIS and working with a team that oozed talent, we won a couple awards. I was published in national publications. I got serious about writing and photography.
My photography was originally a conduit for my writing. If I was out writing a story, I always had a camera with me. (My mom taught me how to use a Canon AE-1 when I was a wee one). And like writing, I was hooked. I enjoyed capturing the full story—with both words and images. Now I can’t write without getting an accompanying shot and vice versa.
To date, I’ve been able to travel to five continents to tell stories. I’ve been published in countless publications for both my writing and photography. But more than this, if I can impact just one person with a story or photograph, I’ve done my job.
CONTACT RYAN BOLTON
Email Ryan by clicking right here.