Photographer Spotlight: Tammy Ruggles

Tammy Ruggles. Portrait by Jill Jarrett
Tammy Ruggles. Portrait by Jill Jarrett

August 18, 2015 /Photography News/ World Photography Network (WPN) is very pleased to sponsor its popular segment: "Photographer Spotlight.” In this part of their newsletter they will be interviewing various fellow photographers and learning more about what motivates them, what their goals are and what direction they wish to take with their art. 

This issue's "spotlight" is on photographer Tammy Ruggles.

WPN: Your personal story and journey into the world of photography is a very inspiring one. Please tell us a little about your physical condition and how it has affected your ability to operate a camera.

Tammy Ruggles: I was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa which is an eye disease that deteriorates the retinas over time. I also have night blindness along with other vision issues such as the lack of peripheral vision, depth perception, inaccurate color vision, and extreme blurriness. When I was younger I had wanted to pursue photography in the traditional way with formal classes and in a darkroom, but the night blindness prevented me from doing this. I also was unable to read the settings on a camera, which I would have had to do in order to photograph manually. Ultimately, it probably would have been difficult to see the negatives as well. Because I felt limited, I resigned myself to family snapshots with a disposable camera. This was enjoyable, but not quite the kind of photography I had in mind.

Grazing. Photo by Tammy Ruggles
Grazing. Photo by Tammy Ruggles
WPN: Despite this obstacle why do you think you continue to adamantly pursue this art form?

TR: I'm not really sure, but I think it may be the artist in me. I've been an artist since the age of twelve, and I have always thought of photography as a fine art form, akin to painting or sketching. I found a way to create the kind of art I always wanted.

WPN: Did you ever consider exploring other avenues to express your creativity?

TR: Over the years I have expressed my creativity in several ways. I have tried sketching, writing, finger painting and digital painting with a computer. I enjoyed all of them, but photography just may be my favorite. Unlike the other art forms I pursued, photography had been “closed” to me for so many years.

Sunset. Photo by Tammy Ruggles
Sunset. Photo by Tammy Ruggles
WPN: Is there any one particular event or person who has inspired you along the way?

TR: If I had to name someone, it would be Ansel Adams. His beautiful black and white landscape photography inspired me. Along with Alfred Stieglitz, he is my photographer hero. Stieglitz worked hard in getting photography accepted as a legitimate art form. I admire his style and use of “Pictorialism,” which gave his images the look of paintings. Since I couldn't really practice photography, I opted for reading and studying about it. Another photographer I follow is Bruce Gilden. I also draw inspiration from other sources, like music, film, and literature. A present day photography educator who inspires me directly is Ted Forbes. He informs and enlightens photographers of all levels and covers everything from the basics to the great masters. After I picked up my first digital camera in 2013 and started taking pictures, it was Ted Forbes who helped me make the full connection between art and photography. As a matter of fact, the name of his photography show is called "Art of Photography".

Side of the Moutnain. Photo by Tammy Ruggles
Side of the Moutnain. Photo by Tammy Ruggles
WPN: How has the “digital age” and technical advances in photography helped you to pursue your passion?

TR: I would not be able to practice photography without a “point-and-shoot” digital camera which has auto settings. Photos are developed in the camera instead of in a darkroom. I don't really have to look at a camera, and if I need to turn a knob, it's just a couple of turns of the dial. This is the reason that I love my Sony RX100 camera. It has a dial on top with notches that you can feel and count as you turn it. I just memorize the number of clicks and the locations of the buttons. My 47-inch computer monitor allows me to view my photos. The favorite part for me is when I get to choose the photos I want to keep and delete the ones I don’t want. I choose the images with high contrast, since this is how I am best able to see. Sometimes I will increase the contrast in order to better see the images. I go for simple compositions, which is also easier for my eyes to view. My art education and my own sense of what I like about art plays a part, but not in a forced way. After so many years of sketching, the process comes quickly and easily for me. Thanks to the digital age and the internet, I also have a way to store, share, and display my photography.

WPN: What do you think the future holds for you and your work?

TR: I'm not really sure. For the past two years I have taken a stream of pictures and have a collection of images I'm happy with. I have also been fortunate enough to have had them published in literary journals, art magazines, and photography publications. Taking more pictures at this point isn't something I feel the need to do. Instead, I want to explore the possibilities of exhibiting the ones I have. In late August of this year I hope to have five of my photos shown in the "My Mind is a Camera" group exhibit at the Art Beyond Boundaries Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also hope that other exhibits are in my future, but I can't say for certain. Since I am unable to attend shows due to transportation issues, I submit my photos and hope for the best!

Click here to view Tammy's Photography Portfolio

Wish to be considered for the next Spotlight interview?
Please contact WPN's staff:


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