Photographer Ryan Rumpca Captures the Adventurous

Ryan Rumpca

DD PHOTOGRAPHER PROFILE SERIES – Photographic Storytelling with Ryan Rumpca

A Duluth surfer walks back to the water access spot after climbing up the icy shoreline during a blizzard. Duluth, 2023. Photo by Ryan Rumpca.

Photographer Ryan Rumpca describes his artistic niche as the “rugged outdoor lifestyle.”

His moody, monochromatic photos depict striking North Shore landscapes, alongside plenty of images from his adventures abroad. But the overarching theme of his craft has always been storytelling.

“I see my camera as a tool to explore new things,” he noted. “I always ask myself how I can portray a story to someone through photos. I like to peel back the curtain in a storytelling sense, rather than just taking snapshots. And I enjoy telling the stories that interest me.”

Schooner Charley cruising past Wisconsin Point. Wisconsin, 2023. Photo by Ryan Rumpca.

Early Life

Rumpca was born and raised in Anoka, Minnesota. His mother, Sue, worked as an accountant, and his father, who goes by “J,” worked for a medical device company. He has one older sister, Amanda.

Growing up, Rumpca enjoyed the outdoors and athletics. He played football and baseball and liked to hunt and fish.

When determining a career path, Rumpca was torn between physical therapy and engineering. Ultimately, engineering came out on top. “My analytical brain likes to understand how things work, at both a macro and micro level,” he explained.

He graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology.


After college graduation, Rumpca took his first international solo trip - to New Zealand. There, he explored the country’s South Island for a month, while living in a rented camper van.

He was bitten by the travel bug; a wanderlust which continues to this day. “This trip was a huge foundational part of my life,” he noted.

After returning home to Minnesota, he asked himself what was next. The answer, it turns out, was Duluth.

Ryan during a photoshoot with a restored Land Rover in northern Wisconsin. Photo submitted by Ryan Rumpca

“I knew if I wanted to stay in Minnesota, my top choice for sure was Duluth,” Rumpca said. “I was looking for a place where I could balance the ability to be social - and do things like see a movie or visit a brewery – but also be able to disappear in the woods. Duluth offers the best of both worlds.”

Rumpca landed a job at Cirrus in 2017 and relocated to Duluth. He started with the company as a manufacturing engineer, and today holds the title engineering project manager. In this role, he supports Cirrus’ engineering teams with their product development.

Flying over the beautiful Park Point on a spring day. Duluth, 2022. Photo by Ryan Rumpca


Rumpca first became interested in photography during family vacations in his youth. He remembers being inspired during a trip to Alaska and wanting to capture those exciting moments. Images of rugged landscapes - viewed through the lens of adventurous travel - would become his lifelong muse.

He started out using an early model GoPro HERO3 White. This camera was a tool he used to capture both still images and videos. Later, in college, he upgraded to a Nikon D5100 DSLR camera.

In 2018, he upgraded again: to a mirrorless Sony Alpha 7 II. “This is a good, all-around camera,” he explained. “It gives you immediate feedback since you see what the sensor sees.”

A cozy A-frame cabin sits underneath the stars near the Boundary Waters. Grand Marais, 2022 Photo by Ryan Rumpca

Most recently, in 2021, he purchased a Sony Alpha 7R IV, a high-end mirrorless camera. He pairs this camera body with Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 and Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 lenses.

Rumpca is also a commercial drone pilot, and captures plenty of stunning images from overhead. For this, he uses a DJI Mavic 3 Pro, along with first-person view (FPV) drones that he builds himself.


Rumpca explains his photographic style as gritty and monochromatic. “I’m drawn to things that take effort,” he said.

“For example, the North Shore is often known for calm sunrises and sunsets. But I like to capture the North Shore – and Lake Superior – at their most dynamic. I like storms and temperature differences. I like my photos to have some grit to them.”

Exploring the empty streets of Duluth during a white-out blizzard. Duluth, 2023. Photo by Ryan Rumpca

Some of his favorite places to shoot include the Finland area, the Gunflint Trail, and the BWCA. He also enjoys taking photos while globetrotting. Some of his favorite international locales have been the Lofoten Islands (located off the coast of Norway), Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Switzerland, France, Italy, and New Zealand.

If Rumpca could give one tidbit of advice to other budding photographers, it would be to focus on style. “I would say find your style or voice, and tell the stories you find important,” he noted. “The vision of my work really changed when I developed my own style.”


In 2019, Rumpca started his photography business. He’s been busy and successful ever since.

His photos have been featured at Bluefin Bay’s gift shop, the Coho Café, Duluth Gear Exchange, and a couple of coffee shops in the Twin Cities. They are also available for sale on his website.

While Rumpca enjoys the tangible nature of print media, he tends to focus more on business-to-business partnerships. This focus has brought opportunities to work with brands and organizations like Patagonia, Explore Minnesota, The Iditarod, Bon Iver, Visit Cook County, Duluth Pack, the DECC, and COGGS, among others.

His work was noticed by Destination Duluth in 2021. His photos have since attracted 1.2 million views of his images on Destination Duluth's Facebook and Instagram pages.

Ryan at the finish line of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska. Photo submitted by Ryan Rumpca

Rumpca served as the official videographer for the 2024 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska. He also recently directed and produced a 14-minute short film, “A Line in the Snow,” which was created in partnership with Save the Boundary Waters.

This film, which features a winter dog sledding journey in the Boundary Waters, premiered at Duluth’s Zeitgeist Theater. He has a couple more films in the works, too.

The Manifested Moose Media team at the premiere of their film "A Line in the Snow"  Photo submitted by Ryan Rumpca

He has also volunteered his photography/videography skills, through capturing both the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon and the Gunflint Mail Run Sled Dog Race.

A musher covers the span of Poplar Lake during the Gunflint Mail Run dog sled race. Gunflint Trail, 2022. Photo by Ryan Rumpca


Rumpca, who lives in Duluth’s Lakeside neighborhood, enjoys all forms of outdoor activities. Some of his favorites include gravel biking, hiking, backpacking, stand-up paddleboarding, and camping.

As noted, he also loves international travel. His next adventure is a sailing trip to the Arctic Circle in May.

| Ryan on a -30F morning approximately 600 miles into the 1000 mile race on the Iditarod Trail in Alaska. Photo by Ryan Rumpca


Rumpca intentionally sought out Duluth as his home. As a Duluth “transplant,” he is well-equipped to provide a hearty testimonial for the area.

“Here in Duluth, we have the option to do all the things in a city environment, but also lots of remote, adventurous things,” he noted. “There’s great accessibility for either.

“We are so blessed to have the North Shore literally at our back door. You can head up to Palisade Head after work, or watch the dynamic nature of Lake Superior. I really can’t emphasize enough how much I’ve fallen in love with the area.”

Ryan’s work can be viewed and purchased at


Andrea Busche is a Duluth + regional freelance writer and small business owner. She is credited with over 1,000 bylines in local print and digital publications, and has been a frequent contributor to Destination Duluth since 2017.



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