Ruth Carruthers

Writing and snapping for magazines such as Huck and Cooler, brands like Quiksilver and ventures like the Do Lectures, Ruth Carruthers has spent the last 4 years making a name for herself as a creative communicator. Specialising in environmental issues, Ruth links topics like coral reef destruction into art, fashion and skateboarding, often interviewing change-makers and independents in order to tell a story and inspire others.

My work is about getting people to look around themselves more, it’s about questioning and looking at doing things differently. I love portraits of people and the stories that go with them, so a lot of my work involves people rather than plants and animals.

Ruth also works for the RSPB, for whom she runs an education based project at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum that aims to get people interested in nature through art, culture and heritage. In her ‘spare time’ Ruth teaches photography to design students and the public.

1. Butler:
Yes, that’s right, a female butler – people don’t realise such a thing even exists. Think long tartan skirt and blue velvet waistcoat, rather than a black coat with tails. I worked at Skibo Castle (yes, where Madonna got married) for about 2 years whilst still at school and during holidays from uni. Skibo was an education in itself though, serving some of the most influential business people, sporting personalities and actors at such a young age gave me a real insight into the way the other half live. I was basically a glorified waitress, but we’re talking fine dinning here, which gave me a taste for fancy food, especially cakes, which leads me onto my next job…

2. Pastry Chef:
I studied Zoology as an undergrad, so after I graduated the natural career progression for me was to become a pastry chef, of course! Okay, so that couldn’t be farther form the truth, but whilst I knew I didn’t want to become a scientist I knew I did like working with food, and approached the owners of Kember and Jones Fine Food Emporium on Byres Road, with enthusiasm and the urge to let my creative side loose with eggs, butter, sugar and lots of chocolate. The head chef there took me under her wing and with the skills I’d learnt from my mum (also a cook) and Nina Simone playing in the background I worked part-time as a pastry chef for just over a year. Cakes make people happy, and I like making people happy, but being a chef is really stressful, plus I’d always wanted to be a photographer. So, I left to study photography at Masters level.

3. Editorial Assistant:
Now by this point I probably sound like I don’t know what I want to do, but photography had been a long standing passion of mine and I spent a lot of my first degree in a darkroom, when I probably should have been studying bee stings or something. The good thing about my masters though is that is also gave me skills in graphic design, film making, business and marketing. When faced with the fact I had to do another dissertation I thought there’s no way I’m producing some boring black and white book like my last one… So, I wrote, designed, photographed and published my own magazine, which I then used to get myself work with ‘real’ publications including Huck and Little White Lies, two amazing mags produced by creative agency The Church of London. I worked as an Editorial Assistant with them for a few months in London, which gave me unparalleled experience of writing copy, pitching ideas, working with designers, interviewing and taking pictures of folk I admire. The project I was most proud of from my time working on Huck was a piece about coral reef destruction that was paired with the most amazing illustration – it was great to combine two of my big passions, the environment and art, in a really accessible and creative way. But London got too expensive and exhausting for me and I returned home to Glasgow on the job hunt.

4. Kelvingrove Project Manager:
By now I hope you can see that my interests, skills and passions have started to come together. And one of the main melting pots for these has been my work at Kelvingrove, where I run an education based project for the RSPB, a wildlife conservation charity. Here I have the freedom to teach kids and adults about the natural world and conservation through activities such as printmaking, drawing and exploring Kelvingrove Park. You know recent stats estimate that 1 in 4 children in the UK never play outside these days – trying to change that makes this is a very fulfilling job. Plus, it’s also an enjoyable way to pay the bills as I make a name for myself as a freelance photographer and writer.

5. Freelance writer and photographer:
The writing part of this surprises me because I’m dyslexic, but that’s what spell-check is for. My time at The Church Of London has stood me in good stead. I met a lot of great people when I was down south, including the team at Quiksilver, who took me on as an ambassador for their Quiksilver Women range, which promotes creative women and their ventures. I regularly submit pictures and text of inspiring women to their blog, and The Church of London keep me involved with their ever evolving projects such as The Good Times newspaper. I love interviewing people that inspire me, but I’m concentrating more on my portrait photography right now. The only problem is I have too many ideas and people I want to capture; I don’t know where to start.

More: Website | Twitter

Ruth is now a photographer and education officer with The Clipperton Project.

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We’ve asked professionals in creative industries what jobs they have had in the past to get their foot through the door (or at least pay the rent). For more in the “My First 5 Jobs” series look here.