Ryan Schude began photographing Them & Theirs in 2001, while he was still a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. Then, he restricted the project to people who have cars with vanity plates and collected around fifteen images. After he graduated, he left the photo series alone for a while. But, then, in 2010, he returned to the idea, shed his previous limitations, and began taking many more photographs of people alongside their preferred modes of transportation.
The diverse collection ranges from documentary to cinematic in style. The human subjects may be friends and fellow artists or random people who Schude met after leaving notes on their vehicles. Whether shot in the woods or on the street, the images pay due attention to the setting as well, as the driving interest is in how the vehicle, person, and environment work together to create a scene. A farmer stands before his tractor in an orchard. A hip couple hangs out in the driveway with their vintage car and their bulldog. An artist stands between the oversized hand sculpture in the back of his truck and the matching hands painted on a wall behind him. Seeing how the different elements generate a sense of character and place, the series could very well be called “Them & Theirs in Their World.”