11 Questions with Ronny Rose, travel photographer

Based in LA, Ronny Rose is a freelance photographer and photojournalist, specialising in travel, adventure and human-interest stories. With breath-taking images and an inspirational story, it's worth pointing out that dott met Ronny through Instagram - so this is a special moment of creative visions collaborating across the globe.

What are you listening to/reading/watching at the moment?

I wish I could report that I was reading something very cool, but I’m terrible about starting and stopping books. However, I’m currently on a reading hiatus from All The President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. As far as listening goes, lately it’s been a lot of podcasts, mainly a mixture of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (presently: the WWI series), and season 2 of Serial. I also have a newfound obsession with Jordan Klassen’s music. Lastly, I’m watching documentaries. So. Many. Documentaries. It’s my favorite genre of film and I can’t get enough of them. Half of my life is spent on the road, so I download them to my phone to pass time in airplanes. Most recently I watched Cartel Land and I binge watched both of Joshua Oppenheimer’s films, The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence. All three are masterful.

Describe your life in 3 sentences:

My life is in a constant state of undulation. I travel for a living, so I’ve become quite accustomed to adapting to new environments. Over the years, I’ve begun to experience it as a dual feeling of being home anywhere, and yet feeling like I permanently existing nowhere. With that said, I wake up everyday feeling like the luckiest man on earth, because I’m living the life I’ve always dreamed of.

 What's the biggest challenge you've overcome?

By the time I was 22 I hadn’t drawn a sober breath in 6 years, and I’d been actively using since I was 12. I’m 6ft tall, but when I was 22 years old I weighed 135lbs, my skin was yellow, and I couldn’t get out of bed without dry heaving unless I took something to help me get moving. I’m fortunate to say that 8 years later I’m still sober, but getting clean at 22, when most American kids are first starting to drink, was one of the hardest situations I’ve overcome.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? 

It may sound tragic, but all my life my father told me, “Don’t be like me.” He’s a great man, but he never found his true passion. He worked incredibly hard in a factory to support our family but he never had a dream that he threw himself at. He always told me to find something that mattered to me and chase it no matter what. That advice has helped give me the life I have today.

What do you consider your biggest failure?

I spent a great deal of my 20s battling rather crippling depression and anxiety. My one failure, or regret, is not reaching out for help sooner. On paper I had a remarkably exciting life, but quietly I was suffering in a way that prevented me from truly being present for much of it. I look back and see snapshots of what should have been such a wonderful time, but instead, I wasn’t mentally there for most of it.  

What do you consider your biggest success?

I believe my life as it is today, in its totality, is my biggest success. I’ve been fortunate enough to cultivate incredibly deep and meaningful relationships with my loved ones. I have a career that allows me to adventure around the world making images, capturing moments, and being given the opportunity to connect with humans and share their stories. I couldn’t create a better life.

Who or what inspires you?

My friends. I feel blessed to have a collection of friends around the world that I keep in regular contact with. They are all artists, travelers, and thinkers, and they constantly challenge me to look at the world through different lenses.

What would you do with your last day on Earth - (logistics no object)?

I think I'd want my last day to be filled with the little things I enjoy. First off, I'd want to be at home in California. I’d start the day off by getting up early and going surfing and rock climbing. Then go for a walk with my camera to shoot a few final photos. In the evening I’d have a dinner party with my closest friends and family, and finish my final day quietly with my partner Caitlin.

Who are your dream dinner party guests?

I guess if this is totally selfish party, then I would probably want to spend the evening with the artists whose work has inspired me the most. The guest list would involve, Steve McCurry, William Albert Allard, Aaron Huey, Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Serra, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Saul Leiter, Ira Glass, and Steve Reich.

I considered being pretentious and giving a far more lofty intellectual answer, like historically significant philosophers, or stewards of social change, but really I’d just want to be a nerd and ask questions/hear stories from some of my heroes.

What's number one on your bucket list?

A few years ago I found out you could work as a deckhand on sailboats in exchange for passage. Before I turn 35, I really want to be part of a transatlantic crossing on a sailboat. I would also shoot my journey on film using a single lens. I’m thinking, 35mm focal length.

Tell us one thing that might surprise us:

Honestly, I didn’t even know how to use a camera until I was in my mid twenties. Prior to photography I was a painter, and I didn’t develop an interest in shooting until I began traveling frequently. At first it was just a hobby to show people where I had been, but years later it’s become the central focus of my life.

Check out more of Ronny's work here

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