Friday, January 30, 2009

Ian Ruhter : Enabled Preview : Aaron Fotheringham

"Enabled" by Ian Ruhter


Aaron Fotheringham
Words by Jill Webster

Aaron Fotheringham, 17, knows just what it feels like to slowly lose the ability to walk - a concept that could terrify most people. He was born with Spinal Bifida, a developmental birth defect that translates literally to "split spine." Aaron agrees that having the disease is painful. One of his hips is permanently out of the socket, causing constant pain, and forcing Aaron off of crutches and into a wheelchair. After tagging along when his brother would skateboard at the skate park, his brother suggested he try tricks in his wheelchair. "I don't feel it [my hip] when I'm at the skate park," he says. "My adrenaline is up and it's just my release." Aaron holds the world record for the first back flip in a wheelchair as of October 2008, an experience he calls nerve wracking, even though he completed his first back flip two years before that in 2006 and had done it several times since. He is sponsored by Schwalbe Tires, Fox Shocks and Osiris Shoes to name a few. He hopes to do a double back flip in the future and wants to inspire others, both disabled and able-bodied alike to get out of their homes and do something with their lives. "I want it to become common - people in wheelchairs doing flips. I'm not disabled. Being in a wheelchair isn't being disabled. I think that everyone else is disabled - you know, they have to actually walk."


Enabled is a project about disabled action sports athletes who step beyond their perceived limitations, to show us how being "disabled" is a state of mind. The goal is to reach out to both disabled and able-bodied individuals, including those who have an interest in photography and action sports. These stories will positively impact, and deliver encouragement to the disabled community as a whole. The project will be broken down into a documentary, traveling art show, book, and television episode

We are currently pursuing funding to complete, and produce the final outcome of "Enabled." If you are an art director, producer, TV network, magazine, company, etc., and are interested in learning more about the "Enabled" project, please contact ianruhter@mac.com . The above photos have been cropped for preview. To see the complete collection of photos please request a link to the online portfolio.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ian Ruhter : Enabled Preview : Jarem Frye

"Enabled" by Ian Ruhter


Jarem Frye
Words by Jill Webster

At the age of 13, Jarem Frye, now 30, noticed a pain in his knee that got continually worse as time went on. After a doctor's visit to make sure everything was in order, his test results came back diagnosing Jarem with bone cancer. He stayed active through the two years of chemotherapy that were recommended by playing basketball and mountain biking. The cancer did not respond to these treatments the way the doctor's were hoping, which left Jarem three options: he could have his leg amputated and wear an artificial knee joint (which would wear out easily and not allow him the active lifestyle he was used to), receive a donor's bone replacement (which was risky because it would never strengthen the way his own bone would) and the final option - amputate the leg and go with a prosthetic limb. Jarem chose to amputate the limb above the knee. "Nothing could really change my mind - I was determined and pretty sure of what I wanted. I've never regretted it." Prior to learning about his bone cancer, Jarem would occasionally telemark ski with his dad. After the amputation, whit was one of the first things he wanted to attempt. Jarem says that everyone called him crazy for wanting to try this - that even having a knee joint would not allow him to ski that way. "Ever since I made the choice to have my leg amputated, I made the choice not to be disabled. I had to prove that I could telemark ski. It just kind of became a quest to prove that I could do it." It was this quest that caused Jarem to create a prosthetic knee joint of his own - one specifically designed for athletic use. To him, prosthetics are like footwear. You don't wear tennis shoes to ski and you don't wear ski boots to play basketball. Shoes appropriate for walking and running may not be appropriate for rock climbing and skiing. Jarem recalls the biggest catch-22 of his business is the fact that a large percentage of his customers happen to be war veterans injured on duty. It's really hard for me to think I'm benefiting from what's happening to these men and women," Jarem says. "But at the same time, I can't think of a better reason for us to be in business and to have this product available." The word "disabled" refers to everyone in an equal manner, according to Jarem. "Everyone, including myself, is disable in some way. What people think my disability is, I don't consider a disability for myself. I think generally the thing that we share in common is that everyone is disabled mentally in one aspect or another and that's the one thing I am really trying to overcome and be an example for others to overcome."


Enabled is a project about disabled action sports athletes who step beyond their perceived limitations, to show us how being "disabled" is a state of mind. The goal is to reach out to both disabled and able-bodied individuals, including those who have an interest in photography and action sports. These stories will positively impact, and deliver encouragement to the disabled community as a whole. The project will be broken down into a documentary, traveling art show, book, and television episode.

We are currently pursuing funding to complete and produce the final outcome of "Enabled." If you are an art director, producer, TV network, magazine, company, etc., and are interested in learning more about the "Enabled" project, please contact ianruhter@mac.com . The above photos have been cropped for a preview. To see the complete collection of photos please request a link to the online portfolio.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ian Ruhter : Enabled Preview : Ricky James

video

Ricky James/ Ian Ruhter/ Enabled
This is a quick edit from over 3 years of footage that will be put together for a documentary and book I have been working on. 

Ian Ruhter : Enabled Preview : Ricky James

"Enabled" by Ian Ruhter


                                                            
Ricky James
Words by Jill Webster


Ricky James' life goal was to become a professional motocross racer. Starting racing when he was 13, with the encouragement of his family, he quickly became an up and coming figure in the industry. In March of 2005, however, Ricky went off a jump and collided with another rider who tried to pass him. The collision threw him from his bike and headfirst into an embankment - his bike following him. Ricky suffered a split spinal chord and was paralyzed from the chest down. Ricky's determination and positive attitude pushed him through his rehabilitation period that was supposed to last six to eight weeks in only three. "I just wanted to get well," Ricky says. "It was kind of fun actually. It was like 'Let's just see how hard this can be and how fast I can do it.'" With the help of his dad, Ricky was able to do what he never thought was possible - to ride again. Starting off with his feet duct taped to the bike, then slowly progressing to an adapted bike, Ricky got accustomed to the feel of riding again, and as he put it, "I didn't want to ever get off [the bike]." He now regularly races, does jumps and back flips on the track, and has participated in one full Ironman triathlon and three half Ironman's in Hawaii. He is an advocate for all the leading stem cell research facilities in the world and strongly believes that with future medical advancements, he will be able to walk again. With that being his ultimate future goal, Ricky is setting out in hopes of doing some inspirational speaking at high schools and middle schools and living his life to the fullest.


Enabled is a project about disabled action sports athletes who step beyond their perceived limitations, to show us how being "disabled" is a state of mind. The goal is to reach out to both disabled and able-bodied individuals, including those who have an interest in photography and action sports. These stories will positively impact, and deliver encouragement to the disabled community as a whole. The project will be broken down into a documentary, traveling art show, book, and television episode. 

Funding is currently being pursued to complete, and produce the final outcome of "Enabled." If you an art director, producer, TV network, magazine, company, etc., and are interested in learning more about the "Enabled" project, please contact ianruhter@mac.com. The above photos have been cropped for a preview. To see the complete collection of photos please request a link to the online portfolio. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Einstein : Ian Ruhter Thought Experiment 1 of 4





"Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood, walked upon this earth."  (said of Mohandas Gandhi)
 - Albert Einstein

" Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and monitor your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny."
- Mohandas Gandhi

These are two of the greatest individuals that have ever lived. As I've been learning about them, it's opened up many questions in my own mind. I was wondering if you could take Gandhi's quote and apply it to the theory of relativity, E = MC^2. 

My thoughts are, E = MC^2  is... if energy = mass then when a person thinks so much that they're physically drained, they've created energy with those thoughts. Is it possible that that energy could, or does take on the form of mass, meaning a physical presence? Is your thought shooting out into the universe like a beam of light? Is it possible to think things into physical existence? One example that I can think of is the urban legend of a 90lb mother lifting a car off of her trapped child. Someone could say that this is an issue of chemistry, but I feel that if someone wasn't a trained athlete, and they were holding 2000lbs, then their arms would be ripped right off of their body. I think that her thoughts are so strong that she doesn't question, "Can I do this?", it just has to be done. This theory could also be applied to any miracle. 

The reason I'm talking about thoughts and miracles is because of the "Enabled" project that I'm working on with the disabled athletes. After filming them for the documentary portion and hearing their stories, I've started to ask questions based upon things they were telling me. For example, one of the athletes was in a life-threatening accident, and he told me that he actually used meditation to save his own life. He also told me that he could feel himself drifting off to the other side. I believe that because he was able to control his thoughts he overcame his battle with life and death. 

(A thought experiment is an experiment that is carried out in the realm of the imagination, or in a dream-like state.)
                                         Albert Einstein 

Mohandas Gandhi : Ian Ruhter Thought Experiment 3 of 4


"Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and monitor your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny. " 
- Mohandas Gandhi


One of the ways that this quote translates back to photography, is that if you can create an image, and it inspires or alters someone's thought process, their destiny can be changed. If this is possible for one person, then theoretically if the image were to be so strong and widely distributed you could change the worlds destiny. 

One of the reasons I look up to Gandhi is because he saved millions of people and never once suggested or used violence to accomplish this. In our time and in our country, we were the victims of a violent attack. What we did was respond back with violence. I wonder if we should start looking into other ways of dealing with hate and ignorance. In the war going on now, our children are losing their lives. Our young Americans are coming back without limbs, or without their full range of motion. Some will never move their legs or arms again. They come home, but their lives have been altered forever. The next project I'll be covering on my blog is a very inspiring story that I've been working on for the last three years about action sports athletes who have had their lives changed by the loss of limbs and paralyzation. 

Obama - Shades of Grey : Ian Ruhter Thought Experiment 2 of 4


I believe that life's answers don't come in either black or white. In the ultimate light, you wouldn't be able to see anything, it would be blinding. In pitch black you can't see anything either. By combining the two, we get contrast and depth. In the shadows is where we see the answers to our questions. Photography uses the same values to create an image. You need light and shadows to create contrast. If you think about how a photograph is created, you need whites, blacks, and shades of grey to create a black and white image. If you think of your whites, blacks, and greys as being people, places and things, you create a contrast that will add depth and life to your image. 

Obama coming into office as the first African American president of the United Sates symbolizes a great change in our society. I believe major events like this impact our thought process. To imagine forty/fifty years ago in the 1960's, a event like this would be inconceivable to most of the world. These events influence us as a society and in turn that changes our popular culture. What I'm hoping is that this brings us back to the mood of the 1960's. All of the art and music from that time was reflective of the war, civil rights, and love. When I look at our culture now, it's come down to reality shows and everything using sex to sell; it's empty. As a society, we consume such a mass quantity of mental junk food instead of consuming something that is whole and real. It's like people who are obese. Say we go to fast food restaurants and eat this food that has no nutritional value, and your body keeps screaming that you're hungry because it's not getting what it needs. We keep consuming empty calories trying to fuel our bodies needs, but we never really get there. I think the same goes for our brains. When we keep absorbing all the junk around us hoping that something of substance will come along, but it never does. Are we at a point where we're just endlessly waiting for something of value? I believe that we are, in that for the past three years I've been working on personal projects that have deep value to me. The project, "Enabled", will be released next year. What a fitting time, considering all the mental starvation in the world today. It will be like food for the soul. 

Martin Luther King "I have a dream" : Ian Ruhter Thought Experiment 1 of 4

Martin Luther King "I have a dream" : Ian Ruhter Thought Experiment 1 of 4



The next few posts will be about significant people in our past, and how their ideas translate to art and photography. Anyone can learn how to use camera equipment, but what schools never teach you is how to find your own inspiration. They can teach you the mechanics of it, but they can't teach you creativity. I feel like creativity comes from what's inside you and what your beliefs and fundamentals are. You reach down and then convey them through your art. What I do is take what I'm surrounded by and what I'm experiencing and let my feelings come out through the photos. I believe that this way the process becomes much more creative. Someone can go to photography school and pay thousands of dollars to learn the mechanics of a camera, but still not understand the emotion or purpose behind taking a photo. If I had a school I'd encourage and teach people how to reach into their mind and into their soul, and how to convey those messages and thoughts through art.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing person for all that he did and what he stood for. In a time not that long ago, we had separate schools, restaurants, and public transportation based on the color of someone's skin. In that time, Dr. King led the movement for civil rights. What the did during these peaceful demonstrations was greeted with violence and death. MLK's message was always one of peace and non-violence.Through this movement he never used violence or hostility, but used the power of the media to show the discrimination and brutal treatment of peaceful protesters. He used what I deal with to portray his message. This is an example of how powerful and significant photography can be. The work that artists create can actually help to alter the opinions of and change the behavior of a whole society. His dream was so powerful that it sparked the imagination of millions of people. He had the courage to stand up to a world that was filled with ignorance and fear of ideas and fundamentals that were different. How this translates into my life and work is that for me to be able to use my dreams as an artist has opened up so many more doors for me to be able to create work. Having a dream in life gives you something to reach for; it gives you a purpose.

What are dreams? They are the foundation for life. To only be able to see things in our three-dimensional world would be a tragedy. I encourage everyone to look for the answers to all their questions through the power of their dreams. Einstein learned how to use these dreams to figure out theories that the best scientists in the world are still pondering over. Einstein called going into his dream state the "thought experiment". I use my own dreams to shoot photos. I have had dreams of actually photos that I've taken. It's like if I created them in the universe outside of our world and manifested them into our reality. I want to encourage everyone to have dreams, to follow them, and to do what they love.

Friday, January 16, 2009

John Jackson Interview Opener / Forum


This shot wraps up Johns photo essay. I wanted to use the beam of light shining down on John to tie it in with the rest of the shots in this piece. 

Thanks everyone for the great response to this series.

Ian


Thursday, January 15, 2009

When one wrong turn could be your last.




John was injured in Terrace (Northern B.C.) last season. He landed on a tree and almost blew out his knee. John had to sit in the hotel while everyone went heli-boarding because his knee was so bad he couldn't even walk to get onto a plane and  fly out.  I shot this photo of him for his interview in Trasworld Snowboarding. The theme for John's interview was him finding himself spiritually. Instead of just shooting a random portrait, I set a scene. I've only got one image to portray a major piece of someone's life. In concepting this photo I looked into some of my own experiences, and there's been points where you become humbled by seeing a major avalanche, or have thoughts of being caught in a major avalanche. In those moments, I never stop to think, "Is my peep (avalanche beacon) going to save me". No matter what you beleive in, most of us think something along the lines of, "God, please don't let me die." For this shot, I got a picture of Jesus looking at the avalanche beacon to symbolize John's beleifs, and represent how personal beleifs can be important to your state of mind. Anyone can go out and buy the best equipment, but what sets someone apart is their courage. It's not the board that gives you the ability to ride down a 2000 ft face where one wrong turn could be your last, its' your courage. 


Peep: An avalanch beacon worn in the backcountry to allow your group to find you if you become buried in an avalanche. If you're buried for more than three minutes, or are buried under more than six feet of snow, your chances of survival are very slim. If you do go into the backcountry, it's important that your entire group wear this equipment and know how to use it. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

John Jackson Shots



We're all most done with the John photo essay.  Here are a few more snowboarding shots from Canada.

Location : Whistler, BC

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Man vs. Wild / John Jackson

Whenever I watch that TV show Man vs. Wild, it always makes me laugh. That show is so fake. If the producers saw the things we do on a daily basis they would trip. It makes that show look fun, not like a survivor  show. Sometimes we are so far in the backcountry on our snowmobiles, that if something were to happen no one would ever be able to find us. The friends you start your day trip with are going to be the people you depend on to save your life if some thing goes wrong. That reminds me... we did bring a guy into the backcountry that was working on a TV show. He wanted to see what we did and film it for a few days. At the end of the first day he came stumbling back to the parking lot looking like he was nearly dead. His exact words were, "This is inhumane." We just laughed at him and said, "See you here at 5am tomorrow." 

Location: Whistler BC
John: Warming up a gas station sandwich for dinner.

Continuing with the John Jackson photo essay

I have worked with Transworld Snowboarding for 9 years as a senior photographer, and it makes me wonder how some of my best images slip through the cracks ? This is another photo one that may never get published. 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Finding Inspiration/ John Jackson/Forum


 I often wonder what goes through someone's mind when they're snowboarding. How do they decide what line they're going to take to get down the mountain? Is this the same process we use to guide ourselves through life? I think we take our past experiences from childhood, our spiritual beliefs, our friends, family ect., and subconsciously let them guide us through life. I asked John, "Where do find your inspiration for snowboarding?" He told me that he finds it in nature. I shot these photos for an up coming interview he has in Transworld Snowboarding. I wanted to go deeper that just randomly shooting cool photos with no meaning. I shoot John with the things that inspire him to do what he does. I feel if we surround ourselves with the things that we love, they will guide us down the amazing  path we call life. 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait/Jonn Jackson/ Forum#2

 I was so stoked to get this photo of John Jackson after already getting a portrait shot of him in the same light. In Whistler BC there are storms that last up to a month and you won't see the sun once that entire time. But when the sun does come out and you are standing in the middle of a glacier filed on the top of the world, the light is breathtaking. I have never seen any thing like this in all my years of traveling. The snow covered mountains are so big and the valleys are so deep the sun bounces light through them creating a perfect spectrum of light. In one day you can see every color, shade and tone of light. You just have to be patient and wait. They say good things come to those who wait. If that's the case something really good should be coming way .

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Seeing the Light John Jackson/ Forum


 While traveling with John on our three day drive to Canada, he told me that he had been thinking about God and the importance of spirituality in his life. While we were snowmobiling in the back country he came over a hill and every thing just lined up. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. At that moment I saw him in the same light he was describing to me on our drive.

Photo: John Jackson
Location: Whistler, BC, Canada