Through The Eyes Of Ruby are a photographic duo from Ulverston, Cumbria, who document the UK live music scene in the North West and beyond on black and white 35mm film.
Tom Welsh spoke to one-half of the collective, Ste Fletcher, about the venture and their plan to bring black and white film photography back…
What was the original idea behind Through The Eyes Of Ruby?
Ste: “I’ve always been into music photography, and me and Owen (Godbert) just thought that not many people are using 35mm black and white film anymore, so we decided to use it to try and document as much of the UK music scene as we can.”
What is the appeal of working with black and white film?
“I’ve always liked black and white photography – people look better in black and white. It looks more real. Most of the music photographers that I’m into, like Kevin Cummins who did all the Joy Division stuff and The Smiths – it’s all in black and white. He’s definitely a big influence on me – that’s one the reasons I started doing this as well – because of his photos.”
How long have you been taking photos for?
“I started on digital last August and I got a film camera pretty soon after. You can take too many photos [with digital] and it’s not really a challenge. Owen’s been doing it for ages, but we started Through The Eyes Of Ruby together. I’ve been wanting to get into it for ages but when the band started doing less (Ste is bassist in RedRooms) I thought, fuck it – I’ll get another hobby!”
How do you decide on which gigs you’re going to photograph?
“I never really take pictures of something I don’t like – there’s no point – so I’ll listen to them before and just try to go to as many good gigs as I can. So does Owen – he goes to a lot of gigs in Glasgow. It’s quite good really ‘cos we do Liverpool, Manchester, even Leeds, but then Owen does a lot in Edinburgh and Glasgow as well, so we cover a lot. We don’t get paid but it builds up the portfolio, and all bands need photos and there’s not a lot of people offering what we do.”
What gear do you use?
“I’ve got an Olympus SLR camera, an old one, and Owen’s got a Canon one. We use 50mm lenses.”
How do you go about developing the film for online? Do you print the pictures in the traditional way as well?
“I send the film to Owen and he goes and develops them in a dark room at Edinburgh School of Art, then brings it home and uses a negative scanner to get high resolution pictures onto the computer. If you wanna print them it’s a separate thing. It’s quite sad but people don’t really use physical copies anymore – portfolios are all on the internet now aren’t they, ‘cos the internet’s took over the world like, but…”
What plans do you have for the future of Through The Eyes Of Ruby?
“We want to put an exhibition on at some point, but we just have to build it up for about a year at least – I think you need a lot of stuff to choose from. We had this idea of maybe putting on a gig in Manchester, somewhere like the Kraak Gallery (now Aatma) or Islington Mill (in Salford). We could have an exhibition and put some bands on as part of it, which fits ‘cos it’s all about the UK music scene. Other than that, we just wanna bring black and white film photography back in.”
Finally – where did the name Through The Eyes Of Ruby come from?
“It came from an old British skateboard video – we didn’t wanna just call it by our names and that just fit. Me and Owen used to skate together all the time.”