We had the good fortune of connecting with Rue Romani and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rue, alright, let’s jump in with a deep one – what’s you’re definition for success?
Success is dependent on your mindset. Let’s get metaphorical, pretend your goal is to grow a flower. Can a flower grow without water or sunlight? Your success in the physical, outside world can not come about if you are not equipped with the essential and fundamental tools to begin it’s cultivation on the inside, within your own mind. Your mind must be fully furnished with not only purposeful thoughts and ideas but also the willingness to act on them. The Universe will take care of the rest; just like your flower WILL bloom if it’s properly tended to. Don’t trouble yourself trying to understand HOW a flower grows, or HOW you’ll reach your end result, you don’t need to. Your job is to give The Success what it needs to grow: Your thoughts and your actions. Problem solve, connect, navigate, come up with new ideas to break down barriers and then act! You’d be surprised what could happen next.. a new lead, a new idea, a new experience, a new helpful aquaintance. Each action guides you to your next thought which guides you to you next action and so on. You’ll have to check several mini-goals off your list before you achieve your main goal. Just like the stem emerging from the dirt is a Success. The first leaf to sprout is a Success. The budding and blooming of the petals is a Success. Each small step along the way is necessary for you to undergo before you reach your ultimate goal. Success is always growing, it is a living concept. You can have as much or as little as you want. I think what leads people to great success is that they are never satisfied. We now have a flower but why not have a pair, or a dozen, or why not an entire garden?
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I believe what sets me apart as an artist, is that I have such a love for this craft. Meaning, the art form itself. I love creating photos. And I don’t just want to create A photo, I want to create an “oh my gosh, is this even real, how did you do this” photo. I can’t just take a picture. It has to be something memorable. Even when I’m on a shoot and I’ve taken the shot that I know is “the one” I always say “Okay but can we beat this?” Ask anyone who has ever shot with me and they’ll tell you I’m not lying. I’m never satisfied, I want the best that we can do and I always push for it. I want every shoot to be better than my last shoot, I feel like I owe that to everyone who is involved. But even though I’m probably making myself sound like an evil, maniacal, drill sergeant with a little whistle who pushes everyone on set to be their best, I swear that’s not how it is. It’s my love for what we are doing that is INSPIRING the team to go harder. The energy on my set is electric, everyone is there to CREATE which is a FUN process. How can you have beautiful creation if the energy on set is uncomfortable and weird? And how does that benefit the client whose sales rely on how well I capture their product? So that’s what I believe makes me different. I just purely love what I do, and I want to do my best. For myself, for the crew, and for the client and their brand. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. Nothing worth having comes easy. I used to think “I want to own my own business, I don’t want to work for the man! I don’t want to work 40 hours a week until I retire!” I didn’t realize that owning your own business means you have to work every hour of every week! It’s all consuming, yes. But, I honestly can’t picture myself doing anything else with my life, so it’s just a rhythm you get into and then you just never stop dancing. Yes, I get tired, and frustrated with social media and sending out emails all that, but it’s just part of the process of becoming who you want to be. Like I said, I’m never satisfied and always want to do my best so I doubt I’ll ever stop pushing myself and my business. That urge to be better than my yesterday self is what’s going to drive my success to places I never imagined going.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ohh, this question really strikes a tender nerve since I’ve been locked away indoors for who knows how long now. Covid-19 really came in a pooped on everyones party huh? I’m forgetting what a fun night out is like! I would 100% go find some live music. Remember live music? Jazz night at the LACMA? A Mariachi band in some authentic Mexican restaurant? The Hollywood Bowl? Getting one of those hotdogs wrapped in bacon with peppers on top from the people serving them on those little carts on the street corners? Yes sign us up. A trip to Disneyland or Magic Mountain? The life. I would take them to Nat’s Early Bite for breakfast and coffee, something about coffee at Nat’s just made my mornings. And for second breakfast we would go to Nick’s Cafe near Chinatown for a good Eggs Benedict. This question is making me think about things I’ve tried not to think about for the past few months so I’m going to stop myself, but when Covid-19 is finally over you’ll be able to catch me at all of these places!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ll be the first to say that I couldn’t be who I am today without the help, inspiration and encouragement of SEVERAL people. Without turning this into a sad story, let’s just say I started my journey without much at all. In fact, it’s a little humorous to think about my 21 year old self deciding to dedicate her life to photography while she didn’t even have a camera. But my decision was quickly affirmed by the Universe when a friend of mine, Jason, lended his Canon Rebel XTI to me. He said he never used it, so I could have it to practice with. I remember being brought to tears by his gesture. I immediately began to practice even though I had no idea what I was doing. All my photos were coming out blurry! I obviously had a lot to learn. But who could I learn from? I had recently made friends with a photographer in Atlanta by the name of Alexander Sikwitit. I told him about what Jason had done so he invited me to his studio to show off my new equipment. This was the day I learned how to shoot in Manual Mode. I will always be so thankful for Alex. He taught me how to use a camera. He even taught me how to light a face. As far as I’m concerned, he’s at the foundation of everything I’ll ever do. I can’t thank that man enough for what he taught me. I practiced and practiced. Every day after work I would go to shoot in the woods, trying to master exposure by adjusting for the changing lights as the trees cast their shadows. I loved nature and capturing things as they were but making them look beautiful. Naturally, I gravitated toward National Geographic. I fell in love with photojournalism. I wanted to travel and cover stories and make ugly things beautiful and powerful. But like I said before, I didn’t have much of anything. I had just survived homelessness. I didn’t even have a car. How was I going to travel and do all these great things that I had just tasked myself to do? I thought to myself, well flight attendants get around don’t they? So I became a flight attendant. I had never even flown on a plane before. My first flight ever was my first day serving as a flight attendant. It was scary but I had to do it. Photography was my purpose. So Thank you ExpressJet Airlines for the job! I traveled all over, with my camera taking up more room in my carry-on than anything else. Eventually one day I met a man on a flight by the name of Chip Duncan. He was a documentarian. He was a photojournalist. I swear, the Universe could not be kinder to me. I stopped serving cookies and peanuts and started showing Chip all of my work that I had saved to my phone. This man was so esteemed and accomplished and there I was showing him my photos I took of strangers from my layovers. Looking back now, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he just humored me by looking, saying they were nice and then never talking to me again. But he didn’t. He was impressed! So impressed, he invited me to his headquarters in Milwaukee to meet his team. He said he’d like to offer me an internship. I was so beyond excited, I was ready to emergency land the plane at that point. I went to Milwaukee and met his team and they all were very impressed by my work and my vigor. Chip couldn’t believe some of the concepts I was using without even knowing the technical names for them. He saw so much potential in me. That experience fueled the belief I have in myself. I knew then that I REALLY COULD do this photography thing. Eventually I was invited to work on a documentary about human trafficking in Nicaragua by Travis Preston, a talented producer in Atlanta. This was my first assignment on a project as a photojournalist. I was moved, I was broken, I was shattered by the experience. These weren’t just photos, these were people! People with lives and real pain! People who are opening up to me, showing me the worst times of their lives. I couldn’t just snap my shutter and walk away from them. I realized that I care so much, that my heart is so big, that I, personally, couldn’t separate myself from the work. It shook me. This was my purpose though.. wasn’t it? This is what I’ve jumped through hoops to do. The project with Travis pushed me to think about what kind of photographer I wanted to be, which lead me to make decisions that put me in the position I am today. I decided to quit the airline and move to Los Angeles to live with, my now fiancé, Nate Hosseini. Who I coincidentally met on a flight. Nate works in the Entertainment Industry. He’s a camera operator for TV shows, commercials and music videos. The industry opened my eyes to the world of creation. It introduced to me to the idea of crafting your own reality vs. facing a very harsh and real one. I saw that I could create what I thought was beautiful, and that’s how I fell into fashion photography. The act of capturing beauty formed by someone else, making it look even more beautiful all while inspiring the viewer to feel beautiful too! What a wonderful way for me to ADD beauty to the world. Nate has been the support system that I didn’t have when I began. I couldn’t have done this without him. He’s uplifted me and encouraged me and connected me. He helps me produce shoots and assists me during them. He films my behind the scenes videos, he’s my critic, my brainstorm partner, he’s such a key player in the story of my success, and again, he was dropped in my lap one day on a plane by the Universe. It seems like the Universe deserves a thank you as well. All the people I mentioned have shaped and sharpened me. Along with all my friends and family who have encouraged me since the day I began this journey. 21 year old me was so brave for running headfirst into a world she didn’t know anything about. I’m so thankful to everyone who helped her along the way, who cheered her on, and to those who helped mold me into a person and artist that she would be so proud of.
Photographed by Rue Romani Featured: Dyson Luka Tartaglia Gunna Kyra Green