One afternoon, Fort Mitchell, Ky.-based photographer Joseph Ruh’s wife suggested they visit a friend’s farm. Upon arrival, they were greeted by Thunder and Dakota, two of the resident horses. They spent the afternoon walking around the farm and photographing both horses. A split-second decision of Ruh’s would land him in the winner’s circle for the Sunset Print Awards.
Thunder was so close, pinning Ruh against the fence. “I almost missed the shot, but then thought to myself this angle could be really neat,” he says. When he and his wife returned home, they looked at the photos. His wife saw the up-close shot and persuaded him to enter it into the competition.
Photography is something that’s always come naturally to Ruh, ever since he was young. Growing up, he had a neighbor who was an artist and worked for Gibson Greeting Cards. He was the one who inspired Ruh to get in touch with his creative side, through both painting and photography. It was photography, however, that stuck with Ruh.
“I wasn’t great at painting, but I could take a photograph,” he says. “My father had cameras around his house, encouraging me to start shooting with an 8mm video camera as early as 9 years old.” Ruh and his father would eventually switch to film cameras.
Even while working in electronics in the military, he still found photography interesting. Stationed in Germany, Ruh learned to work with black and white and grew to love the medium as he developed photos in the photography lab on the fifth floor of his dormitory. Fast forward to the 1970s when Ruh took a 3-month probationary job as a photo-journalist at the Kentucky Post. For five years, he shot everything from editorials to sports. Eventually, he took a job at Northern Kentucky University as a staff photographer in the marketing department.
Ruh would work at the University for over three decades, photographing everything from sports to biology classes (his favorite). “I really loved the science aspect, especially using a 15mm macro lens to shoot dissections in the class and sitting in on the lectures.”
To this day, Ruh won’t travel without his camera. Whether riding his bike or driving his car, he has his camera next to him so he can take pictures of anything from landscapes to flowers to trees. He currently works as a commercial photographer for contractors and builders but also enjoys also taking photos for fun. “I enjoy the freedom of creating self-assignments to take pictures of what I please.”
Ruh appreciates the ability to enter competitions, such as the Sunset Print Awards. “I like receiving feedback from the judges and other competitors,” he says. “I can see what I am doing right and what needs improvement.” He likes the guidelines provided through the PPA’s 12 elements and ensures that his photos encompass each one. He enjoys editing his photos because he feels that is an important part of the competition process, “[editing] helps me see my work from other viewpoints.”
Stating he can’t get enough of photography, Ruh finds inspiration for his work in everything from art magazines to television to his model airplanes. He considers the different angles, frames and focus that he can use to make something ordinary into something extraordinary through an image. Using an EPSON SureColor P800 Printer and Sunset Photo eSatin Paper helps him print award-winning images and gives him complete control over the entire process, from capture to print.