Jakob Lilja-Ruiz

Editorial Analog Adventures:
Jakob Lilja-Ruiz’s captivating color photography

© Jakob Lilja-Ruiz

“Photography has changed the way I see everything from the less obvious beauty of simple moments to the epic landscapes across the US.” – Jakob Lilja-Ruiz

─── by Josh Bright, May 23, 2023
  • Jakob Lilja-Ruiz is a US-based photographer, whose stunning, color-rich images demonstrate the profound potential of analog photography.

    Color photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz, landscape, mountains and fields through a car window
    'Out the Window'

    From the very first glance, his compositions grab your attention. The interplay of light, tone, and form imbues scenes with a powerful sense of allure, inducing a palpable sense of wanderlust.

    Despite starting his career using a digital SLR, Jakob’s switch to film photography proved transformative. The process slowed him down, and in his own words, galvanized him to “focus on capturing feelings rather than sharpness”. He was so enamored with analog photography, that shortly after, he quit his job and sold all of his digital camera equipment, so that he could spend the summer on the road, shooting as much film as he could get his hands on.

    Color film photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz, reflection of a desert landscape in a wing mirror, USA
    'Blind Spot'
    Color photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz, landscape of mountains USA
    Lost Dutchman

    Canon AE-1 paired with a 28mm became his ‘workhorse’, and remains his 35mm setup of choice today. 

    ‘From commercial work to long backpacking trips; the canon has checked off every box for me. I believe it takes years to fully memorize your camera until it feels like second nature.’

    Color photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz, street of San Fransisco USA
    Sunset District 4, San Fransisco, USA
    Color analog photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz. Motel red light, usa
    'Moth to a flame'
    Color film photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz. Hand in water, reflections of the sky
    'Lucid Dream'

    As he ventured further into his analog journey he also began experimenting with medium format. The Mamiya 7 is his preferred camera of choice, thanks to its dynamic range and subtle focus.

    Like many great photographers before him, Jakob is drawn to the open road. his images depict the landscapes, motels, and subtle details of life in the United States, conveying the essence of the American road trip, a subject that has gripped so many artists across different mediums for generations.

    Color photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz, landscape of San Fransisco bay USA
    Color film landscape photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz. Sunset reflections in a window
    Where the land meets the sea
    Color, film photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz. A white car and colorful houses
    'Parked out Back'

    At times, his images evoke the work of early color pioneers like Eggleston, Shore, and Meyerowitz, and as a lover of art history, Jakob says he draws inspiration from the medium’s greats.

    Meyerowitz is a particular influence, the American’s mastery of light and appreciation of tone were vital in establishing photography as an art form, and are traits that remain key tenets of Jakob’s practice. Yet he also finds inspiration from more modern sources, like contemporary Joe Greer, and more importantly, the close friends with whom he surrounds himself day to day.

    Color film landscape photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz. Mountains and corn fields
    'Fall in the Tetons'
    At your service
    Color photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz, landscape of mountains and a lake USA
    Spring in the Tetons

    I currently live in a house of 5 photographers all pursuing their passion side by side and I couldn’t imagine a more inspiring environment to work in.

    This not only gave me a good outlet and second pair of eyes on my work but made me emotional invest in art outside my own. This made my life a constant pursuit from sunrise to sunset all focused on figuring out what it means to be a photographer.”

    Color landscape photography by Jakob Lilja-Ruiz, winding mountain road
    'Mt. Tam'

    The warmth, atmosphere, and vivid yet authentic tones of Jakob’s imagery are thanks to his mastery of the analog format and would be difficult to attain digitally. Like his predecessors, he puts great value on the darkroom process, asserting that, “the decisions you make while exposing film gives it its color palette and dynamic range.”

    At the heart of his work, Jakob seeks to save special moments. His subtle, beautiful compositions demonstrate the relevance of analog photography, displaying its incredible potential to capture the essence of the world around us.


    All images © Jakob Lilja-Ruiz