Today we’d like to introduce you to Ruthie Carl Taylor.
Ruthie Carl, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I had always dabbled in mixed media and had taken a photography class back in high school before everything had converted over to digital. I remember my teacher being highly encouraging as she allowed me to do independent projects and often wrote me slips excusing me out of neighboring classes so I could finish developing photos. I spent my senior lunch periods in that dark room. By graduation, I knew I wanted to study either Art or Theatre and happened to be lucky enough to make it into both departments. But I felt that art would help me by giving me a broader range of technical skills I could use later on in multiple types of careers. I did 1 year of Interior Design before switching to Fashion Design. I had always been mesmerised by the fantasy and avant garde world of fashion. Obsessively loving the fabrics, details, the theatrics, the props and drama of it all. I believe that it is my experience with these past creative outlets that have helped me develop a personal style in my photography. When planning a creative personal shoot I go into all the details of creating set design, acquiring antique and time specific props, creating props, and even constructing costumes. I like to work in themes of life, live, and death with vintage clothing and nods to time periods. This I also attribute to my mother being a model in the 70’s and going to Miss Universe. So as I child I was also exposed to her modeling photos and magazine clippings. I believe that apart from experimentation and the artist’s constant strive to be original, that we all very much become a special accumulation of out personal histories and what inspires us. I always wish to translate that into my work and invoke a feeling. The feeling of longing, the past, nostalgia, romanticism, and dreaming.
It was during my senior year of fashion design that I created an avant-garde wedding dress and was selected to be a part of a competition and gallery showing in Los Angeles California. That is where I finally felt (like many before) the feeling of coming home. I had always struggled to identify the culture clash within myself of being a 1st generation born Latin American with growing up very Americanized. Los Angeles was the perfect mix of a diverse cultural and creative boiling pot. I returned back to Virgina where I grew up and completed 1 year of Communication and Arts and Design before the desire to start working took over. I was engaged at the time and decided to postpone the wedding and use some of the money towards making the move out West. I jumped in my father’s old white Benz and drove it from DC to LA with car problems the entire way. It was admittedly not the best car choice for a cross country trip but it happened to be the 0nly car I owned. I spent a few months in Downtown La while working an internship for Tavin Boutique and helped her build her store and brand from the ground up. Erin Tavin happened to match my love of travel, textiles, vintage, and her aesthetic was always very inspirational. I moved and lived the much-loved neighborhood of Echo Park for 6 years continuing to work for TAVIN as an all around creative go to girl. I worked the shop, did expos, created the window displays, in-store seasonal re-merchandizing, sewed, handmade tags, did all her social media, ran her online shop, and did all the photography as well. It was the photography that took on a life of its own. While shooting for the online store, lookbooks, and promotions I started loving it more and more. I began investing every cent I made into getting better equipment and taught myself the most I could with online tutorials and more. It was about 3 years ago that I decided to focus my energies specifically on photography. It is there when I started expanding my work into other areas of my life that crossed over. I began shooting music festivals, travel, nature, and even surf. So my fashion work is still more polished and in a way a path in which I very much create a dream-like world. While my lifestyle work is about capturing all the beauty one can find if one seeks and finding a way to “learn to see”. Which is my way of bringing that otherworldliness beauty that exists all around us to the forefront for others to connect with and see.
The previous Summer before this last I spent 2 1/2 months backpacking Costa Rica. I am drawn to travel, adventure, and the possibility to capture a great photograph. California has such a beautiful and wide varying landscape that it was there where I taught myself to solo camp (I did not grow up camping or being a nature girl) so that I could travel and explore further. Life imitates art imitates life. So, in the end, it was great because I was having the adventure and started capturing it but then the desire to capture began motivating the adventure. As of now, I am currently in VA right out of DC taking care of my father while he recuperates from his battle with throat cancer. During my stay out here I decided to take some advance courses to solidify my self-taught education. I am working as a freelance photographer and assisting in DC/NYC. I had the rare opportunity this past summer to travel to Vietnam to assist and then went solo backpacking for an extra week. One of my biggest dreams was to be able to travel for work and find a way to meld all my worlds.
In this next upcoming month, I have a series of ballet and vintage inspired photographs titled Tiny Dancer that will be on display at the Park View Gallery at Glen Echo Park from Oct 8th-Nov 13th that I am building an installation for. It will be right after my week-long trip to Italy at the end of this month. Afterwards, I will be back and forth between New York, DC, and Los Angeles for both my own creative work and assisting. I find that in the art community it is important and lovely to support other artists and photographers. I like to collaborate and I a firm believer in “the work”. So I think assisting one another helps inspire, create, and helps one another learn more.
Has it been a smooth road?
For the artist, the road is always winding and unknown and often times dimly light with only the distant promise of “making it” or making credible art lighting your way. People often fail to realize how much time and money is invested in following your dream. The equipment, the programs, the learning, the hours spent bettering your craft. There is no photography factory that I can go be employed by and clock in a regular 9-5 stable job with benefits and a 401K. But the payout is you do get to do what you love, set your own hours, and be your own boss. I think my discovery of my path into photography and fashion photography has been very fluid and I have been lucky with the right opportunities coming along at the right times and places. That being said I have dealt with a lot of uncertainty, working tiresomely for free to gain experience and make connections, often times having to stretch funds, selling things to purchase more photography equipment and investing all my savings into creative personal shoots to create better and better work. I think at the end of the day the struggle is to accept and love that this is the road that I (along with many other artists and creatives) have chosen to follow and it is a fully encompassing lifetime commitment and more than just a job. And in that way the road is both endless nor singular. It’s about creating as many opportunities as you can and being brave to say yes to whatever appears. And I am a firm believer that if you just stick with it and be devoted in your time and energy then success will ultimately come even if in just small wins at first.
Has there been people or an institution that has played a pivotal role in your career?
I am currently being mentored by a phenomenal fashion photographer/educator name Xang Mimi Ho who I have had to pleasure to learn and assist from. We recently went on a whirlwind of an adventure to Vietnam on a fashion campaign shoot. Between teaching at 2 universities, traveling, and being a mom of two, she is a constant inspiration to me.
What kind of work do you look forward to most?
I am looking forward to traveling and backpacking again in Costa Rica in December/January and continuing to explore my personal interest in underwater and surf photography.
Also, my first solo photography show up this month and a reception on Oct Sunday 23rd. I will be incorporating video projections and remixed music by a friend of mine as well as wine ect. I have built an installation for my Artist series titled Tiny Dancer inspired by Ballet, body and form, and dreamworlds. I hope this exhibition goes well and will lead to a 2nd series I would like to display that is a documentary on a modern day Motercycle culture. As I like to build and use the lens as a window to bring the viewers into worlds within worlds.
In the past, I have worked with performers and aerialist to create some beautiful work. My favorite project was a conceptual video/still shoot I worked on for my dancer/aerialist friend. I created and designed the deconstructed costume that came apart into 4 separate pieces, all the props, and feather avant-garde accessories, and took the photos as well. It was a great collaboration and I was able to be extremely creative. Here is the link to the final video product https://vimeo.com/71789742
What have been some of the most important lessons you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Nothing. All the good, the bad, the failures, and wins have been a beautiful part of the journey with a few surprise turns. I say stay with it. And I try to remember that there is not 1 set path or way to get to where you want to go/ or “the dream”. Staying flexible and dedicated is the key and also part of the reward.
- Website: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 2133006651
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ruthiecarltaylor & www.instagram.com/ruthie_carl_taylor
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ruthiecarltaylor
- Other: www.krop.com/ruthiecarltaylor
Autumn & Lace~ Photo/Styling by me, Model by Mikah Sullivan, Hair/Makeup by Makeup Makala Elizabeth Taylor
Summertime Sadness~ Photo/Styling by me, Model by Sarai Rollins, Hair/Makeup Makala Elizabeth Taylor
Ballerina~ Photo/Styling by me, Model Elizabeth Fraley
Love Lorned~ Photo/Styling by me, Model Credit Annalise Marceline
Porcelain~ Photo/Styling by me, Model Madelaine Petsch, Hair/Makeup by Juliana Carbone
Prism Queen~ Photo/Styling by me, Model Abigail Duncan, Hair by Drew Meek, Makeup by Elissa Bettencourt
Sainthood~ Photo/Styling by me, Model Credit Annalise Marceline
In the Orange Trees~ Photo/Styling by me, Model by Maya Singer, Hair/Makeup Makala Elizabeth Taylor