May 20, 2012
It was 4:30am when my alarm clock went off. A quick shower, a few bites of cereal, and I grabbed my bag that I packed the night before with snacks, a second change of clothes and my go-pro camera kit. I was going to get dirty. I was going to get wet.
Today, I’m going to shoot a sizzle reel for Frank Lee Ruggles, Warrior Artist.
At the crack of dawn, I hopped into Frank’s jeep along with photographers Guy Noffsinger and Lee Love. We looked forward to the day ahead with great anticipation. We were about to shoot a 10 minute action-educational video in hopes of eventually getting Frank a new television program on a major network.
Frank Lee Ruggles is an Artist, Author, and former Eminent Photographer for the National Park Service, a job position once occupied by Ansel Adams. “Often compared to the American icon, Frank similarly delights us with his patience for the perfect shot and with his heroic efforts to get there”. An exhibition of his private works of America’s National Parks is currently showing in several locations across the US, accompanied by lectures about his experiences traveling to all 50 US States and showing images from his books”Beautiful America” and “Workbook”. A third book: “The Outdoor Photographer’s Guide to Hiking” was released in late 2011. Current Projects include: teaching photography at his “Hike and Shoot” Workshops, his exhibit and lecture tour, and his dedication to photograph all of the National Parks.
Frank Lee Ruggles began his photography career as a hobbyist in 1992, working in a one hour photo lab on Kiawah Island, SC. Before and after work most days, he would hike the trails of the Island, practicing his photographic skills and developing his own shooting style. After taking thousands of images, studying Ansel Adams’ books, and with the help of his wife Lisa, he found his own style and a buying audience at the photo store, where he sold his Fine Art images.
After five years, he moved to the Washington DC area to try new challenges and found work as a camera store manager where he met hundreds of photographers and learned the business of photography by networking and sharing experiences. In 1999, with his business partner he purchased a lab of his own. Their clients for photography and custom hand processing were primarily Federal Government clients, Architects, Realtors, and Manufacturers.
Frank Lee Ruggles has photographed over 100 of our National parks and logged 25000 miles on his photographic journey over the past four years. He can often be found hanging off remote cliffs, hiking on active volcanoes,or sitting for sometimes hours – waiting patiently – for the perfect image to capture the American Beauty he sees through his lens. His hikes frequently take him far off the beaten path to discover the lesser known views of these well known places. Mr. Ruggles will go to almost any extent to “get the shot”. He has committed to not only searching out, documenting, and sharing the beauty of America, but he has also committed to protect it as well through education and fundraising for preservation foundations.
Our crew of ten are made up of all sorts and ranges of talent from the Washington DC and Baltimore areas. We came together, unpaid, but knowing this was going to be a project that is going to garnish a lot of attention and create the next sensation in the likes of Anthony Bourdain, only within the photography world.
It was a long and tough day shooting throughout and above Harper’s Ferry where West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia come together at the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. The second half of the day demanded the crew to accompany Frank on a 2 mile hike up a 750 foot rocky mountain “for that perfect shot.” Along the way up, we lost three crew members to heat exhaustion sickness and they had to traverse back down the mountainside. The rest had to now carry even more gear to our final destination, an expansive view overlooking Harper’s Ferry and two railroad bridges far below. Frank swiftly harnessed himself to a rope and hopped over to another ledge. When the Scarlet Red camera was set-up and ready to shoot, Frank proceeded to enthusiastically educate the viewer in photographic technique. He climbed down the ledge and back up to another small spire away from the curious onlookers and crew for his final hot-shot.
Here’s hoping all the best to a fine man who deserves a show. Frank Lee Ruggles is a Warrior Artist who is going places… and taking you with him!
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