What Inspires Me

Ke-Chunk

My Work as an Artist

I have enjoyed a long career as an artist and photographer. My focus has been aimed at projects that I find meaningful. Producing content that has a positive impact on people is more important to me than simply earning a monetary reward. The highlight of my earlier career was as an artist in the exhibits department for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. There my skills were used to produce a wide array of content used for educational purposes for nearly fifteen years. (Learn more about those years via the page links at the bottom of this page.)

Photography has always been a passion of mine. My first SLR camera body was a Canon T50 film camera. Aside from taking an inordinate amount of photos of my friends, I also photographed various “old-school” punk rock shows. It’s where I fell in love with capturing the energy of a moment.


I pursued a career in the Industrial Arts and put photography aside for a number of years. It wasn’t until 2003 when I purchased a digital Canon SLR that I rediscovered my passion. By then I was a Creative Coordinator at the Carnegie and had acquired the skills and software knowledge needed to establish a digital darkroom. Those were also the early years of the internet and I found a talent at capturing the attention of viewers from all over the world.

My First Camera

My First Camera

A local Pittsburgh hardcore punk band Half Life playing at the Electric Bannana sometime in 1986. I took this photo with a Canon T50 DSR + a 50mm lens with a mounted flash. This is scanned from an old print as I cannot find the negatives.

In 2004 my work was noticed by established photographers. One in particular, Jeff Swenson an AP photojournalist, took me under wing and began to hone my skills. Through him I was introduced to famed National Geographic photographer Lynn Johnson. They both began to prepare me for a career as a photojournalist. By 2006 I was preparing to leave the museum in order to go to Iraq to document the war. Life had other plans and a near death experience, combined with meeting a new romantic interest and starting a family, had me forgoing those plans.

My Mentor

Jeff Swenson took me under wing early in my photo journey. He groomed me to be a photojournalist. At that time I had intended to become an AP photographer covering the Iraq War. Life had other plans for me.

Lessons

Lessons

Lynn Johnson explains the concept of placing subjects within their context in a photograph. She had me perform a number of skill building exercises, such as spending a year taking photos without looking through my viewfinder. This is one of the first images I took using that method.

Sudden Change of Direction

  • Into the Chute, Onto the Bull

    Aaron Miller settles onto the back of a bull while the previous rider tries to stay clear of his enraged mount. Riders travel from all over the world to come try their hand at riding out the animal and taking home the cash. Some days it's the bull that wins.

  • Self Portrait

    The day they discovered a massive tumor in my chest. March 12th, 2006

  • Self Portrait

    Ron Lutz II 05-18-2006 Pittsburgh, PA

In the early spring of 2006 I found myself looking for photography projects that would sharpen my skills as a photojournalist. To that end I went on a weekend long trip following a circuit bullrider. It was a gig that would change the direction of my life.


It wasn’t the action, or anything dramatic that occurred. It was simply the poor air quality of the venues that were the catalyst for a chain of events. The air was usually blue from the fumes of space heaters, and the air was always full of dust from the arenas and animals. The combination gave me a bad case of bronchitis.


I ended up in an emergency room not long after the rodeos with serious difficulty breathing. As part of the medical routine they performed a CAT scan of my upper torso. That is when a massive tumor was discovered in my chest cavity.


Long story short; they said I most likely had stomach cancer, gave me six months and scheduled surgery four weeks from the initial discovery. In that short span of time I discovered who I am as a person. My attention completely turned to my family and I spent time trying to make things easier for those in my life.


On the weekend before my surgery, from which they had prepared me to expect to never leave the hospital afterward, I met an interesting woman. At the time I thought, “Too bad I am going to die soon, or I’d marry her.” Well, when I woke from surgery they announced it was a benign tumor (the size of a softball) and they only removed it and a quarter of my stomach. I was going to be OK.


Not wasting time at this second chance at life I then married that woman three months later. Eleven months after that our daughter was born. Leaving my career at the museum behind, and foregoing my journalistic dreams, I became a stay at home father. Raising a child, and coping with a household in which my wife traveled for nearly 75% of the time kept me engaged. I also pursued photography, developing my skills, but it had become more of a hobby business.

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