Mike Ruiz – beyond the camera

MIKE RUIZ – Photographer | Activist

 “My aesthetic is derived from my point of view which is one of optimism and hope. The camera became a conduit for my need to create a more beautiful world around me.”

Mike Ruiz is a beautiful person inside and out. He is well known for his stunning photography, constant activism, and of course, that chest. This Canadian-born spice of life has a multi-facet relationship with entertainment. At 20 years old, he moved to the US with $300 to his name to pursue a career in the industry, working as a model for a decade, then a brief period of acting.

When he was 28, he received a camera as a Christmas present … the rest is history. His compelling eye for color, texture, and highlighting both inner and outer beauty, has made him a star in the world of celebrity and fashion photography. Extremely empathic, he says his work’s mission is to make his subjects feel special and beautiful. His work has been seen around the globe in magazines that include Vanity Fair, Flaunt, Paper, and international versions of Elle and Vogue, with a celebrity resume that reads like a who’s who of entertainment that includes Billy Porter, Betty White, Kelly Clarkson, Prince, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, and the list literally goes on and on. With his artistic vision, he’s directed music videos for Kelly Rowland, Vanessa Williams, Erika Jayne, and RuPaul. Audiences fell in love with his personality and muscles with his appearances on America’s Next Top Model, Drag Race, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, and yes, who can forget, The A-List New York. Although we got to see a peek into Mike’s personal life on A-List, he clearly was in a class of his own.

So, besides his talent, why do we love him so much?

Photo by Lev Radin

Well, for starters, if you’ve ever met him, he’s one of the most sincere, charming, down-to-earth, and unpretentious guys. But what really seals the deal is his philanthropy, using his talents and connections to make a difference. He has supported such organizations as The Ali Forney Center, GMHC, The Trevor Project, Housing Works, It Gets Better Campaign, Live Out Loud, Project Angel Food, and GLAAD. He is also on the honorary board of the Let There Be Hope medical research foundation. For almost a decade, Mike has been shooting rescue animal calendars. His recent series of calendars, Bullies and Biceps and now Mutts & Muscles, feature top male fitness models with equally as cute dogs. Each year his calendars benefit a different organization. This year’s Mutts & Muscles calendar (already sold out) is benefitting Harley’s Haven Dog Rescue, dedicated to providing vet services and home placement for dogs at kill shelters or in abusive situations. After learning that 1 in 5 members of our community is not a registered voter, Mike organized a “Flex Your Vote” campaign that featured a social media blitz by fitness photographers encouraging our community and our allies to get out and vote. Mike has also partnered with online retailer Social Impak, featuring a collection of Mike’s work on clothing with a portion of the proceeds benefitting organizations close to Mike’s heart, including the Stand Up for Pits Foundation and the Ali Forney Center.

Mike’s newest campaign is The Leatherman Project, featuring a diverse array of men in leather. The photos are stark and stunning and Mike’s mission behind the campaign is to demystify the leather community and serve as a time capsule that will “keep the leather community’s rich history alive for future generations.”

Four-legged or two-legged, Mike continues his empathy towards the world in all that he does, making him one of the people we love.

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Published by
Alexander Rodriguez

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