Meet Ross Ruddell, aka Project Bliss’s Ambassador. Ross is a professional outdoor/portrait photographer from the Central Coast of California. Specializing in surf lifestyle and outdoor storytelling, Ross has traveled to dozens of countries across the globe as well as all 50 of the United States. He studied photojournalism at the University of Hawai’i and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs in Maryland. Before pursuing adventure photography full time, he was a photographer for the U.S. Coast Guard, proudly serving for eight years.
What you need to know about Ross:
What is the scariest thing you have ever done to date? This trip, crossing the Mexico border, and not knowing where I would sleep that night, or the few hundred that lay before me.
What is the coolest place you have ever visited and why? I cheat on this one. My hometown. I love the Central Coast with all my heart and can’t believe that the wonderful area is where I’m from.
What is one cause — social or environmental — you are most passionate about/why? The health of this planet’s oceans. The sea and our beaches have become a trash receptacle for all sorts of human waste and it saddens me that we don’t respect the greatest bodies of water on this planet more.
Who is your favorite author and why? Jack Kerouac. He got it. He started the Beat Movement of travel and music and just “being.” On the Road is my bible.
Why have you pursued photography and travel? Being able to accurately show others what I am so fortunate to see is what drives me. I not only want to document what I see, but I want to be able to bring that vision/point of view to others.
What is coolest moment in your Coast Guard career that you experienced? I’ve had so many, but probably when I was invited to shoot the Mavericks Surf Contest in Half Moon Bay, Ca. The biggest waves in the world were there that day and I was able to shoot it from a Coast Guard rescue boat.
Where does your passion for the ocean and surfing come from? I love the ocean and I feel the most at home when I’m in or around it. Surfing is an escape and a small act of rebellion. There’s no keeping score, no rules, and there’s no one way to do it. I can freely express myself as well as unplug from the terra firma of everyday life.
What is one thing you hope to accomplish throughout your journey in Latin America? I think I already accomplished it. I left. I started the trip. I was so afraid that something was going to happen that would prevent me from leaving but nothing came up. I’m here, I’m on the road and I’m going.
Why did you choose Latin America? It has the longest and most accessible coastline in the world. There are perfect waves to be found and it’s a longer version of the trips I used to take down Highway 1 as a teen.
What positive outcome do you hope to see come out of this trip? The world, the United States, in particular, is fixated on the bad. Our news is either terrorism or the Kardashians and there is so much good being done by happy people that isn’t covered. I want to show that happiness.
How can we best achieve positive change in the world? Honestly, it all starts with a thought process. Thinking positively and putting out a good vibes will have a huge impact, and it all starts with how you think.
What’s one fun thing people don’t know about you? I eat a massive amount of bananas.
What motto best describes your approach to life? Either “fake it ‘till you make it” or “if you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot.”
What is your favorite form of communication? The universal language of love. I love nonverbal body language. Smiling.
How do you relax and unwind? Surfing, photography, writing, traveling…I try to not get wound up in the first place, but if I’m stressed, I just go surf and everything melts away. Too busy trying be grow gills for stress.
How do you start your day? Usually with some sort of music. I have a massive library of songs and I love waking up and jamming out to get the day going.
Describe yourself in one word. Hopeful.
If you have a story/idea for Project Bliss, contact us at Connect@projectbliss.us