The Raptors by Domenico Ruiu
When did you take you first venture into the world of photography?
«I started to take photos because I wanted to take photographs of animals. Even now, if I don’t have this aim, I do not go out with the camera. I do not like to rely too much upon photo editing software because, to me, photography is just a means to get in contact with animals».
What do you exactly do?
«I am an expert on fauna. I am especially interested in birds of prey, so I consider myself a photographer specialised in this field. For this reason, when I teach photography in one of my courses, my first lesson is always on the use of field glasses, which I consider as an essential tool to build a relationship with the wild animal: only later I teach my students how to photograph. I have published fifteen books on the subject, the most recent one is called Il fotografo dei rapaci (“The photographer of birds of prey”) and it is the only European collectors’ volume that speaks of nature. It is 50x70, and it is 7 kg. In this book I have collected the material of a life spent traveling the world».
You started from Sardinia, your homeland, and then you moved to more distant countries, did not you?
«Yes. I have explored Italy, some parts of Europe and other parts of the Earth. I travelled a lot, especially in past years, to complete the final chapters of the book that I have already mentioned. I ended up in Alaska, on my way to find the American Eagle».
Can we say that your photos also have a didactic purpose?
«Absolutely. I personally take care of this aspect, since I often hold lectures in schools about animals and I use my photos to better illustrate what I am saying. Furthermore, I have worked with many environment and nature magazines like Heron, Oasis, Science&Life and National Geographic. An important feature of my work is that mypictures are taken in the field and are not digitally retouched».
Also, the list of your exhibitions is dense…
«Well, it is true that I have participated in several exhibitions: the last one, for instance, was a personal exhibition entitled Immagini (“Images”)where I showed some forty photographs of animals taken in their environment. The event took place in Villanova Monteleone, in the province of Sassari (Sardinia). It was held in a museum of photography called Su Palatu, very well known in Europe for its artistic quality».
Let’s talk about Alidem’s photos. How was the preparation to the shooting?
«Among the photos in your collection, the one that cost me most effort is the one of the eagle. It took me two months and a half of hard work, because I could not get close enough to the prey. I had to go up the Gennargentu with backpacks and all the equipment, then I built a shed in the snow and I waited for the eagle. Eventually I succeeded and the result has paid off of all the hard effort».
And what about the Sardinian partridge?
«I really like the partridge, first of all because I find it a fascinating animal; secondly, because it embodies the agro-pastoral environment that dominates in Sardinia. I tried to create a peculiar image, and as a result the partridge in the photo looks like it is watching me...».
But let’s talk about the differences between a Sardinian deer and a Redone.
«I have been carrying on a study on the Sardinian deer for a long time. It is a subspecies of the European red deer, but whilst the later is widespread in Europe, this one lives only in Sardinia and Corsica. It is smaller than the Red deer; it has smaller antlers and is missing of the typical characteristics. Moreover, since it is an endangered species, it is very difficult to spot it. Also in this occasion, my work was long and very tiring».
Did you ever find yourself in dangerous situations?
«The only time I found myself in trouble was when I was attacked by a golden eagle. I was not even shooting; I was in a study phase. Overall, I took it as a wonderful experience to the point that in the introduction to my book, I described my experience with these words: "... I remember when the golden eagle attacked me and I thought: this is great, now it is noticing me." I know it sounds bizarre, but I really thought so!».
Your work has won numerous awards from critics and more ....
«I think I am the only Italian photographer who got a honorary PhD for photography. In June, I was awarded the national prize Le Gru, which is held every year in Valverde (Catania, Sicily) on the occasion of a one-week photography meeting; the aim of this organisation is to reward the work of a master of Italian photography who emerged in a specific photography genre. Since this year it was decided to dedicate the prize to naturalist photography, the committee decided to assign it to me. Needless to say, that was an incredible satisfaction».
Any future projects?
«I have a project in my mind and I am already collecting some material, but it seems a bit too early to talk about it».