The fonds consists of photographs and other records from 1908 to ca. 1995, created or collected by Jim Ryan in the course of his career as a photographer. There are approximately 105,738 photographs, mostly black and white and colour negatives, but also including prints, slides and glass slides. The fonds also includes textual records consisting of news stories, copies of Ryan's publications, a few letters and other such material. The majority of the photographs were taken in the Victoria area and include images of the harbour, the city, buildings, events and parks. There are many photographs of British Columbia politicians, notably W.A.C. Bennett, as well as distinguished visitors, federal and local politicians. There are also photographs of local characters, children and ordinary people. Although most of the photographs were taken in the Victoria area, there are occasional images taken in other areas of Vancouver Island as well as some of Ryan's travel photographs. Some of the earliest material relates to World War I and may be Ryan family photographs or items that Ryan collected out of interest.
The fonds also includes motion picture film material, including completed films, production elements, news stories shot for television, and selected reels of footage.