Ryan J. Lane’s offbeat throwback nerd portraits

This series is awkward and adorable.

nerdy man with keyboard
Eighties computer genius portrait.Ryan J. Lane

“What’s something ridiculous that I can do that will make me laugh?”

That's the first question Ryan J. Lane asks himself when he goes to make a silly portrait. A lot of the time it involves putting on a funny wig and a pair of oversized glasses.

The Washington based stock photographer got his start back in 2007, kind of by accident.

nerdy seventies man on telephone
Retro mustache man on the phone.Ryan J. Lane

“I’ve always enjoyed creativity and I had some friends who were dabbling in stock photography when I was finishing up college,” he says. “I started doing it for fun and to see what would happen. It was probably about two years in that I realized that I could quit my day job and do stock photos full time.”

These days Lane spends a lot more time shooting traditional lifestyle photos—kids eating ice cream, happy people enjoying outdoor activities, couples drinking coffee—but his humorous portraits still hold a special place and are how he got his start.

“Early on I did what made me laugh,” he says. “I would just get a quirky idea in my head and I wasn’t even thinking will this sell or not. I think the best art comes from that place.”

nerdy man eating hot peppers
Hot pepper nerd.Ryan J. Lane

A lot of the earliest pictures are actually self-portraits. “It was just easier to work with myself rather than finding a model,” he says.

Many of the characters Lane creates are inspired by props and clothing found in thrift stores. The wood panelling that appears as a backdrop in many of the images was something that he found on the side of the road in a dump pile. He often uses Craigslist to find the furniture for his scenes.

“My basement is kind of turning into my own little thrift store,” he says. “My kids love it,”

See more of Lane's work on his website.

Emulated Vintage Portrait Photograph
Vintage portrait photograph.Ryan J. Lane
Gamer Nerd Playing Video Games on T.V.
Nerd playing video games on T.V.Ryan J. Lane
Dancing Crazy Hippy Man with Mustache
Dancing man with mustache.Ryan J. Lane
Gesturing Retro Mustache Man 1970's Style
Gesturing retro 1970s man.Ryan J. Lane
Vintage Mustache Ping Pong Player
Vintage mustache ping pong player.Ryan J. Lane
Karate Nerd is Proud of His Trophy
Karate nerd is proud of his trophy.Ryan J. Lane
Christmas Sweater Nerds
Christmas sweater nerds.Ryan J. Lane
Retro Man Poses with Wig Wearing Leopard
Retro man poses with a wig wearing leopard.Ryan J. Lane
Exercising Office Worker
Exercising office worker.Ryan J. Lane
Confused and Bored Office Worker
Confused and bored office worker.Ryan J. Lane
Grandma Weightlifting in Living Room
Grandma weightlifting in the living room.Ryan J. Lane
Man Sleeping at Laundromat
Man sleeping at the laundromat.Ryan J. Lane
Christmas in The Office
Christmas in the office.Ryan J. Lane
Man at Veterinarian Wearing Dog Cone
Man at veterinarian wearing dog cone.Ryan J. Lane
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