Dave Ruffles

Like so many connections we make these days I became aware of Dave's work online. Dave has a brilliant archive of photographs of Birmingham and since the start of Some Cities Dave has been a great supporter of ours. So it's with great pleasure that today the spotlight shines on Dave.

Dave Ruffles. dob23/05/1960, King’s Heath Birmingham.

Now married to Eilis, 4 children and dog. Lives in Co Galway, Ireland.

My fascination with photography began in 1971 when my Dad brought home a box of Kodak Veloxcontact printing paper, one of his workmates gave it to him “See what your kids can do with this”.

I took up photography as a hobby and in 1980 started work as a Trainee Photographic Technician at Birmingham University. During my 22 years there as a Technical/Medical photographer I qualified with City and Guilds 745 and an MA Degree (Vis Comm, Photography) from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. We moved to a rural location in Galway, Ireland in 2002 since then I’ve built up a photography practice working for national, UK and International clients.


1. How would you describe your photography?

My work is Documentary biased, quirky things are interesting – I just want people to look at the things that interest me-that’s what drives me

2. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a photographer?

1971 when I produced my first contact prints from my parents Box Brownie negatives. I just wanted to do this stuff all the time.

3. What has been the most valuable lesson, training or mentoring that you’ve received?

I had a commission from Pete James at Birmingham Central Library Photography Archive inyr 2000. The guidance and mentoring he gave me during the 6 months I spent photographing the “final days” of the Museum of Science and Industry,Birmingham were invaluable.

4. Who has inspired you most in photography?

David Bailey

“Box of Pin Ups” made a great impression on me as a teenager, his book NW1 I bought when first printed back in ‘82 is a great body personal of work. I have to mention Sally Soames, when I was a kid the Ol’ Man used to buy The Observer or Sunday Times, I remember seeing her portrait photographs and wishing I could shoot like that (I still do).

5. What are you working on right now?

At present I’m working/editing through my archive of film negatives and digitizing them.

I’m also engaged in a long term project in Galway documenting the re-use/purposing of Landlord Estate houses (British Empire) and their demesne here in Ireland.

6 What do you have in your camera bag?

A bloody mess!

X2 Canon 5Dmk2’s, Rolleiflex 2.8, Sekonic meter, Foma 400 BW film.

5x4 Toyo, NikonD700, Leica Cl, Mamiya RB67 kit, SX70. My camera choices are all over the place. People find it puzzling that I use 2 brands of digital gear.

7. What has been – or is - the biggest obstacle that you’ve had to overcome in your photography?

Gaining confidence and belief in my own work.

8. Which photograph do you wish you'd taken?

Robert Howlett’s portrait of Brunel in front of the Great Eastern’s braking chains. It’s a great example of an environmental portrait, it never seems to age.

9. Can you recommend a photographer’s work you think our readers should check out?

Alisa Resnick her book “One Another”

10. If you could save one photography book from a fire which one would it be?

“The Ilford Manual of Photography” 1953 edition. My constant companion for 40 years, I read it to death as a teenager.

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