Silver & Light: The Photography of Ian Ruhter

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Photography Innovator: Ian Ruhter

Last week, one of our fans pointed us to the article on Fast Co. Create about photographer Ian Ruhter. The article featured a video showcasing Ian’s process and his incredible hand-built camera. Through some online digging I found numerous videos and articles, chronicling the photography process of Ian Ruhter. He actually built his own camera in a truck that looks similar to the ones you ran after as a kid, hoping to spend your saved lunch money on a Screwball or Choco Taco.

His handmade camera has been dubbed the largest in the world and it involves a photography process called collodion, which is a wet plate process that creates a unique look to the photographs (as you will see below) as well as the ability to develop these large scale photographic plates from any locale. This has led Ian to traverse the good ol’ US of A capturing America through his own visual lens.

American Dream from Ian Ruhter : Alchemist on Vimeo.

The Interview

The GoMediaZine was lucky enough to get to speak with Ian Ruhter about his process and what his hopes are for the future.

Ian Ruhter

GoMediaZine:

How did you come up with the idea for doing wet-plate photos in a truck?

Ian Ruhter:

As my career progressed, “technological advances” in the digital image-making process replaced the “old” way of making images and I ended up spending all of my time in front of a computer editing code rather than capturing life.  I began to lose all connection to the search for the most important component of the photographic art. This all changed when I began working with the wet plate collodion process.  The silver used in this 19th Century process reflects light in a way that no other film can.

Ian Ruhter's Truck

GoMediaZine:

How did you learn about the collodion process and what drew you to this method of photography?

Ian Ruhter:

I was searching for the old film that I had once loved. I realized that it was no longer available. When I found the collodion process I realized I would be able to make my own film and no one would be able to take that away from me again.

Ian Ruhter

GoMediaZine:

I know you said in the video “silver & light” that what draws you to the collodion process is that you get to use your hands, are/were there other artistic mediums that you also practice?

Ian Ruhter:

When I started in photography I was shooting with black-and-white film. I learned to develop the film and make prints using my hands.


SILVER & LIGHT from Ian Ruhter : Alchemist on Vimeo.

GoMediaZine:

What draws you to photography as a medium?

Ian Ruhter:

As a child, I had a hard time communicating my thoughts and feelings to the world.  My dyslexia left me feeling like I didn’t have a voice.  I was treated differently than other kids.  The moment I found photography I found the missing piece I was looking for my whole life.  This was the moment I began sharing my feelings with the world.

Ian Ruhter

GoMediaZine:

In your portraiture, what do you hope to capture within the person being photographed?

Ian Ruhter:

In my portraiture I tried to tell a story about the subject I’m Photographing. Sometimes I do this through a series of photos. One example of this is the homeless man I photographed in Los Angeles.  The series starts out with the photograph of the LA River. The LA River shows the geographic location of where this man is from. The bridges are used to link his story to another person’s. In this photograph there is a shopping cart in the right hand corner. Then in next photo a man is shown with a shopping cart. The last photo is an up close portrait of him. This photo allows the viewer to become more intimately connected to the subject. The idea behind the series is you look at something from a distance and you slowly become drawn in closer and closer until you meet the person face-to-face.

Ian RuhterIan Ruhter

GoMediaZine:

I know you are travelling around taking photos throughout the US, what are some of your favorite stops so far and why?

Ian Ruhter:

Los Angeles is my favorite so far because it took me 2 years to build the camera truck. I was living in LA at the time walking around picking out locations to photograph. I didn’t even know if the camera truck would work.

Ian Ruhter

GoMediaZine:

What stops are you hoping to make in the future?

Ian Ruhter:

As of now I’m focusing on the south. I would like to go to New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. I have a few leads for good stories out that way. With the winter months coming we want to go where it is warmer.

Ian Ruhter

GoMediaZine:

What do you see for the future of your photography adventures?

Ian Ruhter:

I would like to keep pushing myself to create better works of art.

Ian Ruhter

GoMediaZine:

Do you ever step in front of the camera?

Ian Ruhter:

The silver in my project gained so much attention that magazine and TV networks wanted to come out and take my photo and tell my story. This has been quite an interesting experience.

Ian Ruhter

GoMediaZine:

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Ian Ruhter:

Leonardo da Vinci, Chuck Close, Richard Avedon, Carlton Watkins, Robert Frank to name a few. These are the books I have laying out on my coffee table today.

Ian Ruhter

GoMediaZine:

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Ian Ruhter:

I draw my inspiration from my dreams and the dreams of others.

Ian Ruhter

GoMediaZine:

What are some of your favorite images that you’ve captured?

Ian Ruhter:

I’m really attached to the LA skyline photo. To tell you the truth I like them all, each image is a part of me.

Ian RuhterIan RuhterIan Ruhter

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Discussion

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