Ruby June is a bi-coastal photographer who's vibrant photographs we've embraced for quite some time. Her eye for composition and narrative through still image is what makes her work so special. Working with a sum of Lomography products including the Lomo'Instant Automat, Lomo'Instant Wide as well as our Lomography Film, it seems that Ruby can take on anything and make it become her own.
Hi Ruby, welcome back to the magazine, tell us, what projects have you been working on recently?
Hi, again! I’ve been working really hard on this feature film recently! A little over a year ago I was working with this amazing hair artist/sculpture, Dennis Lanni, and at the photo shoot he said “Why do we take 15,000 photos out here, why don’t we just make a movie?!” I took it to heart and actually wrote a script incorporating his incredible hair styles. It’s a project unlike anything I’ve worked on. It really feels like a gift from God. The way everything has been coming together for it has been miraculous. I’m really excited to be working on something that means so much to me and can’t wait to share more with the world soon!
Working on this latest project, what are you trying to achieve with these photographs?
It’s funny, the only goal with these photos was “having fun.” Both Malina and I constantly work on shoots, and yes, they’re fun, but they’re very rarely just purely creative with no specific objective in mind. It can be a challenge to keep up personal work, but there’s something about it that just reignites you that I think is really important to remember. So I suppose for this shoot, I wanted to explore and feel free to try new techniques.
You've mentioned before how you like to create narratives or characters for your photos, what characters did you develop for these shoots?
For this shoot in particular I was working with Malina who spends so much of her life as characters in films so I thought it might be nice to capture Malina as Malina for the first look. I had her just stay in exactly what she wore there for the first set up and made sure she didn’t wash off the pen tattoos she had given herself on her hand!
Then I wanted to switch it up into a more classic look and she wore this white dress that had been her mom’s for years. I wanted to capture her in an iconic way, like an old Hollywood movie star portrait. I love the way the shots turned out with the tutu on her head because she looks so angelic and timeless!
Then for the last one with the ventriloquist doll we just went for something fun and silly. I wanted to make sure Malina still looked her age in the photos because I think our culture pushes girls to grow up really fast around this age (She’s 15!) I kept adjusting this last outfit to make sure it was appropriate and covered everything!! I felt like a mom. But it’s really important to me that my subjects (& friends!) are respected and that the focus of the image is on THEM and their essence and not their bodies.
As a model myself, I’ve shown up to a photoshoot and had a photographer tell me that if he couldn’t sell my image to stock agencies (without compensating me) or take unclothed photos of me than it wasn’t worth his time. He actually left me at the location and went home because he was so upset when I refused. It can be scary standing up for yourself when people, many of whom have daughters themselves, treat you like your just a piece of meat they can profit off of. It’s really easy for modeling to feel that way which is one of the reasons why I make such an effort to create narratives and tell stories with my subjects. I want to engage them in a way that they feel valued and looked after.
How do you choose the people you want to shoot, what's your casting process like?
That’s such an interesting question! I really love working with people who are down to earth and up for adventure. Working with Malina was really sweet because she was ready to sprawl out in the weeds on the sidewalk, excited about the strange Ventriloquist doll I found, trusted me when I told her putting the tutu on her head would look good and she even wanted to help carry the heavy lawn chair to the location! She’s a team player!
What did you enjoy about working with our Lomography film?
I love my Lomography film because I know where it’s coming from. Having met Sally & Mathias (the amazing, married duo behind Lomography) I could tell how much they loved and believed in what they were doing and I can see that trickle down into all of my Lomography products.
How do you think this film separates from other films you've worked with?
To be honest, I really haven’t worked with many other films! I’m happy with how my lomo film looks and so I’ve stuck with it!
What are your pros and cons about working both with negatives and instants?
During this shoot in particular I really noticed the pros and cons of both 35mm and Instant. The instant photos really help keep the moral up in the moment, it’s really encouraging to see exactly what you’re creating in the moment. To have it physically there to share with the whole team, to pass around and really feel like you’re all working to create something amazing. It brings everyone together in a special way. That being said I was really happy with how crisp and clear my 35mm photos were. There was a clarity in my negatives that was unique and ultimately probably more useful in the long run.
If you had to bring one camera with you for the rest of your photo career what would it be and why?
I had to really think about this one! In this hypothetical world, I think that I’d choose a “wild card” option. Every shoot I’d close my eyes and open them to whatever camera was heaven sent.
What advice would you want to give to our readers?
Have fun and try to be present! I’ve been working on this. It’s really easy to get caught up in planning for the future or analyzing the past, for me this can be really draining and unproductive. I’ve been trying to remember that there is no promise of tomorrow and nothing I can do to change yesterday! There’s something about only having to focus on today that is relieving. What if today really was your last? Someday it will be! Not to be morbid, but it happens to all of us, it’s life! I think about how disappointed I’d be if I spent my last day trying to calculate what was going to happen in the future, or if I spent it mindlessly scrolling on a screen for hours, or if I spent it wishing I could change something about the past.
There is only now. So go for that “dream photoshoot” you’ve been putting off till you feel “ready.” Take those photos of your grandma you’ve been putting of for the “next visit” and ask her about her childhood! Experiment with self portraits and fall in love with yourself in a new way. Or on the flip side, leave your phone at home and just enjoy swimming in the lake without feeling like you should be taking pictures every moment. Wherever you are, know that you were brought into this world at this time for such a special and specific purpose. You are loved and you are the only YOU. That is your strength. That’s where we find our place in the world, by embracing what makes us different!
written by sarahlindsayk on 2018-08-28