Ruby Okoro on how he uses photography to help him process complex and difficult emotions
Ruby’s exposure to art and design began at a young age. So much so, he tells us, that he was almost “born in the art”. Having an architect father, Ruby explains that “the house was like a living work of art, right down to the custom wood furnishings.” His typical “art dad” also introduced him to music and painting, raising him to an inquisitive personality and versatile taste. Having grown up partially in Rome – the city he now describes as his “favorite” place – Ruby also considers it to influence his creative side as well. The period exposing him to a love of literature and symbolic phrases, he professes admiration for “the way the Italians are expressive”.
One project that Ruby describes as “truly divine” is her two-part series Days before Ascension / Days after Ascension. Designed as a way to tackle the first lockdown of 2020, Days before ascent deals with themes of fear and anxiety. Shot with a closed fisheye lens and deep red saturation amid enveloping darkness, the series perfectly encapsulates the feeling of claustrophobia caused by lockdowns. Although he has no intention of continuing the project, when the photographer was in the early stages of conception Days after Ascension, he quickly realized how much his subject matter and stylistic choices complemented the series’ ongoing narrative. Explore “the changes that have occurred in the individual after going through a transformation” Days after Ascension has a supernatural and deeply spiritual essence, and features bright, sparkling light and effects – a direct counterpoint to its predecessor.
But, looking at Ruby’s work, it becomes clear that he’s not afraid to work outside of his stylistic comfort zone. Teaming up with stylists Cosmas and Nez for the project Father and son — which sensitively portrays the relationship between a father and his two young sons — Ruby found herself enjoying the whole process for its “organic” feel. “There are no invented stories or hired models. People are real, this is their home, these are their pets. This is the real bond they share. Moving away from her usual editing and bold use of color, the shoot was much more natural, and the only visual component Ruby had control over was their poses; sensing it as a domain, he could “express what [he] felt about the story”. Artfully conveying the unyielding power of father-son relationships, the project, while deviating from its typical style, represents Ruby’s ability to powerfully capture strong feelings, complex emotions, and the ability to overcome.