What began as a school subject for Derek Ruttle grew into an important part of his job as The Outlook’s reporter, followed by recognition for stunning photographs that have become a passion for him.
Derek was in high school when he first developed an interest in taking pictures. “In grade 9 Industrial Arts with the late Mr. Maruschecka there was a photography class and that was my introduction to it,” Derek said. “Then in my later senior years I just started bringing a camera to school. We would set up things to make stories out of photos. It kind of snowballed from there.”
It went from high school hobby to something bigger when he began working at The Outlook. “It became something more when I started this job because it’s part of the job. Visuals have to go with the words.”
But it became more than taking pictures. He soon began looking at things around him with new eyes. “There’s certainly a work aspect to it but as I got older I realized it got me more in touch with my surroundings and landscapes and this area is ridiculously photogenic. So I would take a camera with me and just go out, spend a day cruising around and look for that perfect shot. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t.”
So what makes the perfect shot? Derek said it is not only the subject, but everything around it as well. “Every morsel within the frame grabs the eye,” Derek explained. “If the whole thing grabs my attention then I’ve got to capture it. Whether it’s sunsets or wildlife or people, if I put it in a frame and everything in that frame grabs my attention, or I think it would grab attention from anyone else, I snap away. Whatever grabs the eye.”
Many of those shots have indeed grabbed the attention of others, most recently as part of the “Take a Shot” competition hosted by the Town of Outlook for the Communities in Bloom contest. Since judges would not be travelling to communities to evaluate beautification efforts this summer, citizens were encouraged to find the beauty through a lens and submit pictures that capture it. Following an on-line vote, the top five photos would be submitted to the Communities in Bloom contest, representing the town of Outlook.
Once the voting was complete it was announced that Derek took first and second place, with John McPhail in third, and Henry Buys with photos that placed fourth and fifth. “All of our photos are going in to the Communities in Bloom competition,” Derek remarked. “I hope the best for all of us. Fingers crossed.”
No timetable has been set for the announcement of the judged competition so as the contestants wait to see what happens they can enjoy the gifts given to them from the town to mark their win including a Town of Outlook hat, water bottle, note pad and pen.
For Derek, it was a chance not only to shoot one of his favorite subjects, but also to shine a spotlight on the beauty of this area. He recently entered photos in a Tourism Saskatchewan competition as well. “I sent about 20 away in different subcategories,” Derek explained, “representing people, places, water, woods, wildlife, and prairies.”
One of Derek’s go-to places to capture Saskatchewan’s beauty is the Outlook and District Regional Park. “I don’t go in the afternoon when the sun is blazing. I wait for that moment, just after supper, with the sun starting to set to capture it. Everything is so photogenic on a night like that.” He also hopes his pictures help people reflect on an Outlook icon—the former train bridge. “I love shooting the Skytrail with the sun behind it,” he said. “It kind of makes people think about the Skytrail and say, ‘hey, it’s not there anymore.’”
As he searches out more competitions to enter, he also has his sights set on a particular photo he would like to capture. “One of my favorite shots I try to look for is a sunset gleaming off a lake or a river. One shot I’m trying to nail down is, I’m waiting for the next full moon and I want to go to the river and try and get the moonlight shining off the water. I’m not great at night photography but I’m trying to get better at it.”
His other aspirations include having calendars made that feature some of his favorite shots, as well as perhaps hosting a show of his work, possibly at the Art Gallery or another venue. He would love it if he could put a show together with other local photographers.
He encourages people to take a look at what is all around them and begin pursuing a hobby that he says is available to everyone. Although he knows phones can take good pictures, he is a proponent of a professional camera. “They can make a phone that can do anything in the world, but give me my Nikon, my Canon. You don’t have to break the bank,” he said. “A real camera is not expensive. Start out with something simple.”
The important thing to him is to look at what may seem familiar with brand new eyes. “Go walking around outside somewhere. There are great things to take photos of in cities and I have taken a few of those, but I really just think rural small towns and this area just asks to be taken photos of. Just grab a camera, go for a walk, and see what grabs you. Frame it and snap away. Just get out there and see what there is. There’s always something to be captured.”
To see more of Derek’s work check out Facebook.com/DerekRuttlePhotography