They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I feel that seeing something is more impactful than a description. Today I am speaking to world renowned photographer and director, the handsome and talented Mike Ruiz. He has captured the world in photographs. Read on as he talks about inspiration, no regrets and what he would change in the entertainment industry.
Hello Mike, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I read when you turned 28 you received a camera as a Christmas gift. What was it about photography that changed the trajectory of your life?
Picking up that camera was the start of a new beginning. In my 28 years of life, I felt I was always preparing for something but didn’t know what until I met the camera. It was the beginning of a new opportunity. The second that I started shooting, I understood that everything that I had learned in my life was getting me ready to use photography as a springboard to the life I wanted.
What have you learned about yourself as a photographer?
I learned that photography was my form of therapy. It helped me express the radical empathy that I had no outlet for prior to me picking up a camera.
You also have directed music videos for Vanessa William, Erika Jayne, Kelly Rowland and RuPaul. Tell me what was the most challenging aspect for you going from a photographer to director?
Being a micro manager, the toughest part of going from one to the other was having to delegate so much. Any type of film making has so many more moving parts than photography, at least in my perspective. I’ve subsequently learned to let go of total control during the creative process and to trust that the crew I assemble is capable of bringing a collective vision to life.
You are the founder of a rescue animal calendar, what inspired you to start the calendar?
I met, fell in love with, and adopted a sweet pit-bull named Oliver. He was my soulmate. He taught me so much about selflessness and compassion for all sentient beings. These days, I do whatever I can to help animals in need. For example, my yearly calendar that benefits different animal rescues each year.
What do you fear?
Not much these days. 20 years ago I would have said everything including my own shadow but fortunately my brain is wired to confront most of my fears. My one lingering fear is being invisible. Partly because of my human need to feel seen and heard but also my need to make a difference in this world, however big or small.
If you could change one thing about the entertainment industry what would it be?
I would make the entire industry cruelty free. In this day of advanced technology, there is absolutely no need for animals to be exploited or worse, slaughtered for fashion or entertainment. I seriously question the humanity of people who are able to dismiss the endless suffering of sentient beings for reasons that have no place in society.
If you could go back in time what would you tell your teenage self?
I’d tell him exactly what I always tell myself. That he will be ok, better than ok. He will thrive, prosper and have purpose.
What is next for you career wise?
Who knows. I have so many things brewing that if half of them stick, I’ll be over the moon. In the meantime, I have my hands full with being a photographer, director, creative director of four magazines, and helping as many underdogs as I can. Oh and being humble, that takes up sooooo much of my time!
What advice do you have for people struggling to make it in the entertainment industry?
There is nothing anyone can say except that people have to have the fundamental knowledge that succeeding (whatever that means) is the only possible outcome. One must truly believe that making the impossible a reality is always within reach.
Do you have any regrets?
A regret is something that you haven’t learned from. I have a PhD from the school of hard knocks therefore I regret nothing.
Thank you for your time. Any words of wisdom to all the readers?
Try to do one kind thing every day.Photos are courtesy of Mike Ruiz