Pictures Of Perfection
LA based photographer Rinzi Ruiz doesn’t believe that practice makes perfect. His photographs tell a slightly different story, however. Ruiz, whose interest in photography took a serious turn just four years ago, has a rare ability to capture beauty in the most mundane of settings. Shooting everything from landscapes to still-life’s, riots to portraits, Rinzi is a man of method rather than manipulation. So how does he do it? Practice, of course.
Rinzi, I admire your rare ability to capture beauty in mundane moments and places. How do you get inspired in the everyday?
Firstly, thanks for your kind words and for asking me to take part in this. Inspiration for me comes in different ways. One day it could be a lyric I heard in a song and another day it could be a picture in a page of a photo book. What inspires me most is that I get to learn something new and see something new everyday. As long as I walk out the door and go somewhere there's a chance I'll observe something I'd like to take a picture of. I want to learn to see better, learn how to use my cameras better and create better photographs and that's at the heart of what keeps me inspired.
Do you remember the first time you picked up a camera?
I really don't remember the first time I picked up a camera but I do remember when I realized it would be the tool I would use to create. From recently looking through old albums at my parents house I realized that I had taken many photos during my youth but it wasn't until about 4 years ago now that I really fell in love and became passionate about photography. I'd relate it to an experience like picking up my first camera in that I saw a camera in a new way and really started to learn how to use it. I finally moved the dial off of Auto or P mode and began to learn how to manually create exposures.
You use light and shapes very effectively to create mood in your photographs. What do you think are the most important elements when constructing a scene?
The most important elements for me are subject matter, light and composition. If all three come together in a nice harmony then I think I have something that works. These are a few of the basic elements that have worked for painters and photographers for hundreds of years to construct a scene so there are many great examples out there that I've learned from. I think light and composition can make a photograph aesthetically pleasing to the eye but can lack when the subject matter isn't quite working. A photograph can have a good subject or story but can't be highlighted because the composition or light is lacking. The coming together of these three elements for me are important.
You often shoot without colour. What appeals to you in shooting black and white?
Shooting in black and white keeps it simple for me when attempting to bring together the three elements of subject, light and composition but without the distraction of color. Black and white communicates a feeling or mood that sometimes color cannot. Shooting in black and white showed me the importance of focusing on the quality of light. Learning how the quality of light affects a photograph was a very huge lesson for me and changed how I photographed.
You shoot both beautiful landscapes and intense portraits. What is your favourite subject to shoot and why?
Between the two I do prefer shooting portraits. I find most humans to be interesting and I feel that in a photograph I can connect deeper to a human subject rather than a landscape. Early on I shot a lot of urban landscape and scenery without any people in it. I'd actually wait until there weren't any people in the scene at all before taking the picture. When I looked back at those pictures I felt they were missing something and lacked the human element. Well, it's either that or it was before I understood how light could affect a picture so the pictures I took lacked mood or feeling but I do find that pictures with people in it even as a silhouette capture me more than without.
Has anyone ever been offended when you’ve snapped them, or are you pretty sneaky in your public snapping?
I'm sure there have been people offended by it but over 4 years only about 3 people ever confronted me and they weren't even the subject of the photograph or it was just because I was holding a camera. It's understandable that there are people out there that just don't want their picture taken by someone they don't know or people whose privacy is a priority to them for whatever reason. I also don't necessarily 'sneak' around to take people's pictures. I'm not doing anything wrong. I can go unnoticed most of the time and it's likely because of timing and my overall attitude and energy when I'm out shooting. I'm not intrusive or aggressive in the way I shoot either. I go out to have fun, relax and take pictures. It's a positive experience for me and that's the energy I exert while I'm out. A smile goes a long way if someone notices and I have worked on a few different techniques to not be noticed and what to do if I do get noticed.
What do you think you’d be doing if cameras didn’t exist?
If cameras didn't exist I'd still be doing something creative. The camera is a tool so I'd either be using a pencil, a paint brush or making something with my hands if cameras didn't exist. I drew and painted when I was younger and I enjoyed doing it. I was a graphic designer for years but I have found the medium I enjoy working with the most and it's a camera so I am glad it does exist.
Finally, what’s one piece of advice you’d like to give to our readers
My one piece of advice would be that practice doesn't make perfect but it does make you better and better each time. To relate it to photography, there's no magic camera or filter that can make someone a better photographer. It takes a lot of practice and experimenting to become better.
By Vicki Fletcher