Photographer Mike Ruiz has a picture perfect 2010

2010 was a picture perfect year for celebrity photographer-turned-TV hunk Mike Ruiz.

In addition to stars like Kim Kardashian, Prince and Adam Lambert clamoring to step in front of his lens, Ruiz became a star himself on the drama-packed reality show, "The A List: New York."

It wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Ruiz on our tubes.

He’s been on several reality shows including "America’s Next Top Model," "RuPaul’s Drag Race" and Kathy Griffin’s "My Life on the D-List." But "A List" was different. It was the first time cameras would document his every move and Ruiz would have no control over the final edit.

It was a professional risk. But when producers offered Ruiz the chance to bring attention to the LGBT causes of his choosing – organizations that don’t normally receive the spotlight they deserve - he knew it was a risk worth taking.

We spoke to Ruiz about his work, shooting "The A List: New York" and why 2010 was his best year yet.

BottomLine: What made 2010 a picture perfect year for you?

Mike Ruiz: I met a man that I love, admire, respect and honor.

Tell us about him.

His name is Martin. I have never met a man who is so emotionally available and loving.

Has he become your muse?

Martin has inspired me in ways that I didn't think possible. I am branching out in so many areas in my work and he is helping me manage it all.

Let’s discuss all of your work projects beginning with the show. Were you pleased with how A List: New York turned out?
I was thrilled with the outcome of The A-List. I owe a huge amount of gratitude to LOGO for giving me a voice in the LGBT community.

Why did you decide to shoot "A List"?

I wanted to do the show for two reasons. First, I wanted a voice in the community so that I could benefit as many LGBTQ causes as possible. The second reason is plain and simple. I wanted to try something new. I had a blast doing it!

Are the guys on the show your real friends?

I didn’t know them prior to taping and my goal was to be somewhat of a mentor to them. I wanted to show that no matter how much you struggle to find your place in the world, you can end up being happy and successful, both professionally and personally.

Did you purposefully avoid all of their drama?

Going into this show, everyone knew that my participation would be limited due to my commitments as a photographer. It was usually just a scheduling issue. But also, it was never my intention to get screen time at any cost. I wanted my screen time to have positive impact.

What charities are most important to you?

I am passionate about any organization that helps the LGBT community.

Some of my favorites are The Trevor Project, an organization that helps gay youth through their difficult teenage years. I have assumed the responsibility of letting them all know that life is a wonderful and beautiful thing and it should never be cut short. I had the shit kicked out of me on a daily basis back in school but look at me now.

Is there a particular charity that you feel does not get the attention it should?

There is a local charity in New York called The Ali Forney Center. They help homeless LGBT youth who have been rejected by friends and family for being who they are and have no where to turn. They are in constant need of funding.

Have you always felt it important to give back?

I always knew that the second I reached a position where I could do something, I would. It's become second nature to me and needless to say, it is enormously gratifying.

Do you feel you owe the universe for all the fortune you have had in your life?

I feel that all of my good fortune is the result of what I put out to the universe. It’s pretty simple, the more love you give, the more love you get back. That’s something to remember when life seems to be going downhill.

Growing up, were you always so fortunate?

Quite the contrary. I grew up in a prejudiced, chaotic and sometimes violent environment, both at home and at school. I know what I'm talking about when I speak on behalf of bullied youth.

What was your first big break?

My first big break came when I realized that I didn't have to beat myself up anymore for not being good enough. That is really when the wonders of life opened up to me. Since then, it has been one long unbelievable fairy tale.

What does it take to stay on top?

Lots of commitment and effort and believing that there isn't anything you can't do.

You certainly stayed on top in 2010. How many celebs did you shoot this year?

Nicki Minaj, Kellan Lutz, Kelly Rowland, Margaret Cho, Jaclyn Smith, Kathy Griffin, Carmen Electra, Lance Bass, Tyra Banks, Amber Rose … a bunch more that elude me right now.

You began work on your Transformations project this year. Which transformation was the most transformative?

I think my transformation of Kim Kardashian was the biggest transformation because people still don't believe me when I tell them it's her.

When will the Transformations book be available?

I'm hoping to have it out by fall 2011.

How will you top 2010?

My goal for 2011 is simply to try to live in the moment. If I continue to do that, then every year will just keep getting better.

Where will you be when the ball drops?

I'll be on Long Island celebrating Martin’s mother’s 80th birthday.

What is your News Year's resolution?

My resolution for 2011 is to try to be the best representation of the gay community possible.

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