Featured Alumni

New College | Faculty of Arts & Science

Ryan Pyle

Honours Bachelor of Arts (HBA) 2001

Ryan Pyle’s exploratory journey to China has transformed this international politics student into a television presenter, celebrity adventurer and award-winning photographer.

Upon obtaining his international politics degree from the University of Toronto, Ryan Pyle decided to venture to the land he learned so much about in his Chinese history and politics classes. His curiosity with the country, which was always present for Pyle, had finally been satisfied once he landed in China and had borne witness to its uniqueness.

"Its sheer size, complexity and culture intrigued me. The atmosphere, the air, the smells, the colors — life in China was completely different than anything I had ever been confronted with, I simply had to stay and learn more."

With such wonder surrounding him, Pyle could not help but pick up a camera and capture all that he saw. Despite having no previous training in photography, the visual magnificence of China encouraged Pyle to keep taking photographs, eventually leading to a career in photography.

After just two years, Pyle become a freelance photographer and a year later he was a regular photographer for the New York Times and co-founded Mandarin House, an internationally recognized and awarded program that provides Chinese language training to international students. In 2009, Pyle started his own production company, G219 Productions, where he produced The Middle Kingdom Ride, a documentary about his Guinness World Record breaking 65-day motorcycle journey across China. He has just recently completed a similar style 60-day motorcycle adventure television series around India and is currently planning his next production in China. Ryan is a self-proclaimed workaholic.

Pyle, who prefers to be called an “anthropologist with a camera” opposed to a photojournalist, is most interested in capturing China’s unique diversity, preferring documentary-making rather than journalism. Nonetheless, Pyle’s work as both a photojournalist and a documentary photographer and film-maker has won him international recognition. His photographs have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, The Sunday Times Magazine and Financial Times Magazine, and in 2009, Pyle was listed as one of the 30 emerging photographers in the world according to PDN Magazine.

Now Ryan Pyle’s 90-day maiden trip to China has turned into an 11-year love-affair with the photogenic country. For Pyle, China never ceases to amaze him as it continually changes and develops. China is his muse, his subject and his home as Pyle proudly exclaims “I could be here forever”.


Published Nov. 28, 2013.

Photocredit: Chad Ingraham/G219 Productions

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