Artist Takeover: Rinzi Ruiz

This week’s StandardVision artist takeover on the SVLA1 screen at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles features work by Los Angeles based photographer Rinzi Ruiz. Ruiz is the latest of many artists to be invited to take over a two week-long recurring 15-second spot to showcase their work to the public.

We sat down with Rinzi to learn more about his process and what gets him inspired every day.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Manila, Philippines and my family moved to Glendale, CA in 1984.

How did you get into street photography?

I took up photography as a hobby in 2009 to relieve stress and to get back to my creative roots. When I did more research online about photography, I found a few websites that featured street photography. It combined two things I enjoyed doing which were exploring and taking pictures so from that day forth I was hooked.

What is it about Los Angeles that inspires you?

The first thing that inspires me about Los Angeles is the light. We’ve got sun most of the year so it provides so many opportunities of going out and possibly getting a photo that I’m happy with. The second is the diversity; the diversity of people and of places.

Where are your favorite areas to shoot?

My favorite areas to shoot are the Jewelry District of Downtown Los Angeles, Venice Beach and Hollywood Blvd.

Your attention to light and shadow results in photographs one might not immediately associate with sunny and colorful Los Angeles landscape. Is there a deeper narrative you are exploring with the way you represent light in this city?

I explored this theme of light and shadow originally to study light and become better at photography but the more I did I found that it somehow represented how I felt at the time and party represented a part of who I was. I learned more about myself through photography in that I realized that there are aspects about myself that I put into the light but that there are other aspects that I keep in the shadows. I think many can relate to this. I noticed that I also usually only had one person in my compositions. I originally thought this may just be my solution to keeping a clean composition but found that it also represented my times alone in such a populated city. I also think many can relate to this.

What does an average day of shooting look like for you?

An average day consists of drinking some coffee, meditating for awhile to get into the right frame of mind, either driving out to Downtown Los Angeles or taking the subway, then exploring some of my favorite areas or venture into less frequented areas. The light shows me the way so if I find an area with nice light I might wait awhile for something interesting or special to happen. Sometimes I’ll walk around and shoot for 3-4 hours or sometimes I’ll go for 6-8 hours if I really get into the zone. I typically leave after the sun sets but once in awhile I’ll explore the night lights. After a day of shooting, I’ll get some dinner and then rest my feet.

You shoot mostly black and white, is there any specific reason for this?

It started when I was first learning photography. I was inspired by master photographers like Elliot Erwitt, Harry Callahan and most specifically Ray K. Metzker. The books I collected with their photographs were black and white photographs mostly due to black and white film being the only film available in their day. As I was flipping through Ray K. Metzker’s book, one of his photographs really inspired me. It made me feel something. There was a mood and feeling in a street photograph with how the light was affecting the scene and the simplicity of it also caught my attention. I wanted to be able to create work like that so I went out and experimented with different settings and lighting situations. In working towards creating this type of work I also learned that studying light and focusing on light a bit more improved my black and white photography because it is stripped down to just that, light and shadow.

Do you have any advice for street photographers just starting out?
My advice for street photographers starting out is to practice as much as possible. This will help you learn whatever camera you are using right now. Knowing how your camera works, how light metering works and how exposure works is key. Learn from your mistakes, experiment, try new angles and lastly, enjoy the process.
You can catch Rinzi’s work on the #svla1 screen through March 12 as well as on his Instagram @rinzizen.