You may not know who i.m. ruzz is, but you probably have seen his amazing photos on his blog, The Living Breathing Street. His photos depict all walks of life in Calgary and shows our city in many different lights. We chat with ruzz to find out more about the man behind the photos.
Q: Tell us about yourself and where your story begins.
A: I was born and raised in Calgary and have lived here all my life. I’ve been doing freelance development for over a decade and before that I was doing tech support in the oil & gas industry. It’s been a slow progression from the high pay and stability of that world to being able to work on my own terms on projects I care about.
Q: i.m. ruzz is a moniker you have used for a long time. Where did it come from?
The name “ruzz” started back in the late ‘90s when I was looking for a nickname for online work. It started out as “ruzzman”, and then evolved to “i.m. ruzz” because a website registration wouldn’t let me use nicknames. My online presence since has been as ruzz. Most people in my life call me ruzz to the point when someone says my real name I have to think about it before I respond.
Q: How long have you been taking photos?
I never had much interest in photography until the late ‘90s. I was running a billiards magazine and borrowed a film SLR from a friend to take a few pictures. It got me hooked. I tried weddings, event photography and most everything in between before arriving at street as the main focus. The first couple of times out were harrowing and very uncomfortable, but despite that, something clicked for me. It felt alive and engaged. It really called on all my skills at once to make a good picture. Street photography seems to bring all the parts of photography I love together in one place.
Your website, The Living Breathing Street, takes a look at Calgary
from a very stark and human perspective. What is it about the streetscape that inspires you?
Street unlocked something for me I didn’t realize needed unlocking as I discovered my relationship to the city. Getting out in the street you discover that life is way too complex to fit any generic description. Street started challenging my assumptions about people. It showed me a world I’d never seen expressed in the modern media whether movies, television, books, or the news. I was eager to see all of it and try to figure out for myself what the city was.
How do people receive your photos?
People tell me that they see the city in a way they never have before and that it’s changed how they see the city they live in. That was profound for me because I am just out recording to best of my ability then sharing it on my website. I’m just the go-between. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the city itself. The biggest compliment I’ve had was that I helped someone who hated Calgary start to love it.
What makes Calgary awesome?
When I was growing up I hated Calgary. It was too much of a “redneck” town with no culture. That’s changing and the kids coming up today don’t want to hate the city they
live in. They want to feel apart of the fabric of something special. I see a spot there for me to help. I see an opportunity to help Calgarians feel good about where they live.
Calgary is awesome because it’s a large city that grew rapidly and still is finding it’s identity. It’s coming into its own and defining itself on it’s own terms and merits rather than just as an oil town. What motivates me now is to do my best to come home with pictures that show how amazingly complex and varied our city is, to show it’s beauty, as well as it’s ugly underbelly.