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'Once I said it, there was no going back': This Dublin photographer is publishing a portrait a day for a year

Ruth Medjber is currently four months – and 74 portraits – in.

ruth Ruth, or portrait 51 of 365. Source: Ruth Medjber/Instagram

AT THE BEGINNING of 2018, music photographer Ruth Medjber – aka Ruthless Imagery – set up a photo-a-day project, shooting portraits of people from all walks of life and sharing them on social media.

The Dublin-based photographer specialises in music and band photography, and earlier this month toured with Arcade Fire around Ireland and the UK as the band’s official gig snapper.

So a year-long commitment to produce a portrait a day was certainly a new venture for her – but it’s clear Ruth’s not one to shy away from a challenge:

My assistant at the time had just completed a 365 project on food photography and found it really tough but rewarding. Before I knew it, and before I had really thought it through, I was announcing my project to the world.

“I wanted to better my own portrait skills and force myself out of my little comfort zone,” she says. And once the news was out in the open, there was “no going back.”

image_01-3 Source: Ruth Medjber/Instagram

‘Last June, at the age of 32, Santa discovered a lump in her breast. She knew something wasn’t right. She was kind of fobbed off by doctors [but] she trusted her gut, went private and was diagnosed with cancer.’

Ruth put a call-out on her social media channels for subjects, meaning the portraits so far feature a mix of friends, family, colleagues and total strangers.

On writing the captions for the photos, Ruth says it’s almost a therapeutic process:

[The captions] give me a moment to reflect on what’s good about life. I never want to represent someone or something in a wholly negative light, so if the person has had a traumatic story, then I’ll try and bring it back to a positive note.

IMG_9820 Source: Ruth Medjber/Instagram

‘Portraiture is so intimate, so personal. Really, a good portrait should develop over years, not 10 minutes.’

If she was daunted by the prospect of producing 365 portraits, it doesn’t show. Her works are intimate and charming, making fantastic use of colour and light.

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“The response so far has been overwhelming and very encouraging,” says the photographer.

IMG_9139 Source: Ruth Medjber/Instagram

‘Sure everyone knows Gugai so is there much point to this intro? He’s the man behind the Roisin Dubh, he’s the guy you call as soon as you set foot in Galway to suss out the craic.’

Ruth is always looking for “new stories, and interesting people to meet” for the shoot – but if she could shoot one Irish person for her series, it’d be Michael D. Higgins:

 I think he represents Ireland perfectly in 2018, but obviously his dogs would need to be in the shot too, it’d be rude not to!

IMG_9819 Source: Ruth Medjber/Instagram

‘Only Louise Bruton would text me, ask to be part of the 365 project and then immediately follow it up with a picture of Beyonce dressed as a queen as a reference photo.’

You can follow Ruthless Imagery on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, or check out her site here. Want to sign up to have your photo taken? Fill out the Google Form here.

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