By Shaharaine P. Abdullah
Heeding the call of the wild through a camera lens is a commonality shared by wildlife photographers, but for wedding photographer Oly Ruiz, it is a notable distinction. Jointly, wildlife and weddings may seem at the opposite ends of the spectrum in the field of photography, but the renowned lensman has found a way to bridge the artistic gap in the publication of his latest luxury coffee table book, WILD, edited by La Belle Fête’s Ycoy Gonzales-Sitchon.
“I have been credited for quite a lot of signature shots throughout my career, but it is in shooting our clients with wildlife that I feel we’ve done so well and so differently, thus making it worthy of its own publication. This type of photos was a result of my relentless pursuit of doing something different all the time and my love for nature and wildlife,” Ruiz explains.
Filled with breathtaking images of various subjects posing with animals amidst stunning natural backdrops all over the world, WILD is an impressive milestone in Ruiz’s decades-plus career in the field of wedding photography.
Initially employed as an engineer back in 2006, Ruiz’s photography career started as a hobby, which quickly flourished after attending a workshop class by fellow prominent wedding photographer, Dino Lara.
“I was captivated by the bliss of weddings, on the idea that I can be a part of something so wonderful time and time again,” Ruiz recalls.
Eventually shifting his focus to photography, Ruiz soon founded Metrophoto, a collective made up of the country’s top wedding photographers. To date, Metrophoto is responsible for churning out striking wedding pictures and portraitures that artistically push the envelope, and has expanded its operations outside Manila, namely Cebu and Siargao. With the prevalence of destination weddings, Metrophoto’s discerning clientele continues to grow, giving Ruiz and his colleagues more opportunities to explore and hone their craft.
“I feel that different styles exist because there is demand for them, so I’m open to whatever trends come-up. These do help in keeping things fresh and interesting. We at Metrophoto have developed the brand to be more than just taking photographs – our R and D is non-stop and extends to the entire customer experience. We always strive to provide as much value to our clients. Doing this has allowed us to stay as one of the top brands in the industry,” muses Ruiz.
Inspired by the works of Annie Leibovitz, Mario Testino, Steve McCurry, Marc Nicdao and Dino Lara, Ruiz’s pioneering artistic vision has led him to incorporate elements of nature and wildlife into his usual body of work, lending a fresh and dramatic perspective to his photoshoots. From subjects posing with majestic rhinos in a Kenyan safari to lounging amidst the ruggedly arresting terrains of Cappadocia, Ruiz’s images exude ardor, exoticism, and style. Coming up with shots that are visually striking and compelling at the same time is no easy feat, especially with the kind of challenges that both wildlife and wedding photography entail. Aside from technical skills required, dealing with logistics, outdoor elements and subjects that are indifferent to model direction, such as animals, are just some of the challenges faced by photographers. But Ruiz takes it all in stride.
“It’s always about preparation. Even [after] more than a decade into shooting weddings, I still know that nothing beats being prepared. Only now, I do things with so much more efficiency, thus, I enjoy it even more. Preparation and inspiration are important because I always go for something unique, no matter how many times I’ve shot a particular venue already. This also keeps things always interesting. Once we get the planned shoots done, then we leave most to spontaneity and put all those together for a truly complete and depictive set of photos,” divulges Ruiz.
For clients who want to incorporate their personality into their special day and would like to commemorate the occasion but not at the expense of wildlife and the environment, it helps having a consummate professional like Ruiz and his team on the big day.
“I’m very hands-on but I’m not pushy. I make sure that the clients get what they want but are also guided as to what I think would work best. It is always a collaboration that I’m very involved in,” Ruiz shares.
Still, despite his best efforts, the photographer has had his fair share of setbacks in his career, which he has learned from.
“People must know their roles and expectations, otherwise it is a recipe for disaster. I have learned that everything can be solved or at least be mitigated with a proper discussion. And this is a part of the preparation that we do, we make sure that we leave nothing to chance as much as possible,” Ruiz dispenses.
He also advices those who are interested in pursuing a career in photography to constantly work on their strengths, to avoid doing it solely for the money and to always be mindful of the people, the place and nature whenever they work.
At present, the Metrophoto founder is working on his second book, which requires shooting in the barren ice desert of Antarctica, something Ruiz looks forward to. Then again, the prolific shutterbug considers every shoot an adventure and it is this unwavering enthusiasm and passion for the job that extends to his outlook in life.
“Meeting and connecting with people – clients, locals from other countries, co-suppliers, etc.the opportunity to know so many individuals had made me grow as a person, more than any other field might have been able to do,” Ruiz concludes.
For inquiries on how to get a copy email [email protected].