Last Monday night, Instgram activist Ruddy Roye came to GMC to present his images from a series called “When Living is a Protest”. They were images from New York, Tennessee and Mississippi during the aftermath of Ferguson. Each photo is a stunning image that tells a story of the individual and they’re thoughts on the events. The whole series shows how simply living becomes a protest. It is one of Ruddy’s goals to promote civil rights, but “without alienating other races”. He believes that everyone must join together to see progress and change.
Ruddy began his career as a musician, but ended up switching over to writing. It was his “need to tell stories” that compelled him to pursue writing and what eventually lead to his photography. He decided to begin using Instagram as a form of an online digital portfolio. He shot and posted images, regardless of wether or not he had been asked to, which is the beauty of social media. This kind of attitude and initiative lead to the New Yorker requesting he shoot Hurricane Sandy for them after he had already posted some. And there in lies one of the big lessons he imparted Monday night. By using Instagram, he defined himself as a photographer. He didn’t wait for an editor to validate him as a photographer. He stressed for us to not let anyone validate your work or existence. You, yourself must do that.
Through his Instagram he tells stories and shares moments from the streets of Brooklyn. The images are powerful and engaging. Everyday he takes photos and uploads them to Instagram. One project he is working on is capturing the gentrification of his neighbor of Brooklyn. When asked what he photographs, he replied “The truth. The truth in the best way I can portray it.” These poignant images can be found on his profile.
As he ended his presentation, he urged us, as individuals and as GMC students to use our art to tell and story. There is no art, just life. “Living is your art, so make it count and make something that is true to you.”
Be sure to check out Ruddy Roye on instagram: https://instagram.com/ruddyroye
The above photo: Ruddy giving a talk in Kevin Bubriski’s Documentary Studies class. Photo from Kevin’s Instagram.