From magazines like Nylon, Cosmopolitan, and Ladygunn, to corporate clients from Google to Savage Fenty, one need not look far to spot the dynamic work of Savanna Ruedy. Her artful photography and surrealist vintage style demonstrate a specific point of view that makes her stand out in New York City’s sea of photographers. We were lucky enough to grab Savanna for a few quick queries on her artistic process and inspirations.
BLNCD: You’re a Minnesota native, but have been living in New York City for most of your adult life. How do you feel these two very polarizing places have most impacted your development as a photographer?
SR: Minneapolis was a safe place to grow and where I went to College. I feel like it was necessary to really develop my craft in order to move to New York City and hit the ground running. New York has pushed me to be a better photographer in all ways possible. I have faced a lot of problems I wouldn’t have to face in a city like Minnepaolis. New York City challenges me and brings me a good amount of competition. It makes me work hard and stay motivated.
BLNCD: You’ve become celebrated for what can be described as a sort of dreamy hyper-saturated aesthetic in your photos. Was there an “ah-ha!” moment to discovering this point of view? How did this style develop for you?
SR: Thank you! I developed my style through a lot of trial and error that continues everyday. I always surprise myself when something I messed up on looks good. I found such a deep love for photographers like Petra Collins and Charlotte Rutherford when I started shooting. I’m constantly inspired by cinema as well. The 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s are a huge inspiration for my work. Many of the techniques I use in editing and on set are staples from the past.
BLNCD: What are some of the monikers of a Savanna Ruedy shoot? How would an outside eye describe your process and set environment?
SR: I am scrappy as hell to be honest. I show up to have fun because if it’s not fun what’s the point? Lots of laughing and talking. I do know lighting techniques, but would rather just use a random light I find in a closet a lot of the time. I love to experiment and play with lighting and effects. I always shoot to my laptop and play with filters on my sets. I work with the models to find a nice happy medium that we both like.
BLNCD: Your clients range from some of the biggest magazines in the country, to corporate clients, to individuals simply looking for cute photos to post for social. Do you enjoy moving between these very different paradigms? Where do you feel the most alive?
SR: I love moving around within every realm and challenging myself. Each section of my work flow feels so alive. I love to be on my toes and having to think fast. I think that everyone I meet brings something new to my life and a new element. I just love to shoot in high pressure situations but also love to chill on set with someone who needs some model portraits. Print work is my favorite. I love when my work is going to be seen by people.
BLNCD: Who have been some of your favorite subjects or models of all time?
SR: I would say Tinashe is always so inspiring to shoot and it’s always my favorite work. I love working with Bayli who is amazing artist as well. Also LOVED shooting with Serena Kerrigan she’s amazing. EVERYONE!
BLNCD: What is the biggest misconception about the work that you do?
SR: That there’s a lot of technical things! I actually know technical skills, but I’ve intentionally scrapped them along the way. I use them in more commercial work sometimes of course. But a lot of my creative work is random techniques and ISO 2,000.
BLNCD: You’ve been outspoken about mental health issues on social media. Is there any intersection of that advocacy in your work?
SR: I am so aware of other’s mental health issues and it’s a huge part of my process. A lot of people that I work with tell me about their mental health struggles. I like to create a safe space because getting your photo is so vulnerable. I try to go into each shoot from a place of love and understanding. A lot of the subjects I shoot are also huge advocates.
BLNCD: What are your goals for 2022? Anything exciting in the works?
SR: My goal is to move to LA! I want to keep doing what I’m doing. I want to be happier and healthier. I want to challenge myself and work with people I’ve been dying to work with in this industry. Only up from here! I have some photos in Cosmo’s “The Music Issue” issue on stands right now. Go check out my work!
Follow Savanna on instagram @savannarruedy
Story by John Mark