Photographer Ian Ruhter has come a long way since snapping pictures of South Shore snowboarders, and in a way he’s gone back to his roots.
After growing up in local schools and colleges, the South Lake Tahoe resident now spends much of his time traveling around America, Canada and Europe to showcase his art and speak to young artists.
In the last two years, his work — a unique mix of new technology with an old technique called the Collodian wet plate process — has reached a massive audience.
It has resulted in interviews with Wired Magazine, Carson Daly, PBS and more. But most recently, Ruhter accomplished what he said is one of his life’s biggest achievements: being featured in National Geographic.
“National Geographic is huge,” Ruhter said. “It was really big for me.”
This month’s National Geographic is titled “The Power of Photography,” and features several popular and innovative photographers. In it, one of Ruhter’s favorite images is shown — a skateboarder jumping in mid-air.
Like all of his large wet plate pictures, Ruhter captured the image with a truck he transformed into a camera. He used a “stop motion” technique during the Collodian process that hadn’t been accomplished since Eadweard Muybridge in 1878, he said.
“I was able to use modern lights and strobes — things that weren’t available to him — to capture the image,” he said.
Ruhter admits that the fame he’s received from his acclaimed project, “Silver & Light,” is something he never expected when starting it about two years ago, he said. But it has nonetheless taken his life in a new direction.
The artist now makes speeches and presentations frequently, which he previously struggled with earlier in his life, he said.
“It’s something I never thought I’d be doing,” Ruhter said.
On Thursday, Ruhter recalled a presentation he made in Vancouver earlier this year. For his speech, he had rummaged up a few old snowboarding photos — ones he’d taken in South Lake Tahoe at the beginning of his career.
“It was the first time that I put those photos next to what I do now,” Ruhter said.
Looking back, he said it’s easy to see how the Lake Tahoe area inspired his photography. The beautiful landscape surrounded him in his youth; It was something he experienced every day.
Now, Ruhter said he thinks about what he can do to give back to the community he was raised and born in. He’s worked with South Tahoe High School and Lake Tahoe Community College in the past, but said he wants to become a larger part of the community moving forward.
“Somewhere along the line, this community inspired me beyond anything,” he said. “And I want to give back.”