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We’re #HighlyInspired by: Ricky Montalvo


July 18, 2014

Hightail is celebrating our favorite photography on our #HighlyInspired Tumblr page. This month’s guest artist is San Francisco-based Ricky Montalvo. We caught up with him recently to talk turning the banal into art and finding character in Ficus microcarpa.

Ricky Montalvo photographer

How did you first get into photography?

I’ve always loved taking pictures but it wasn’t until I landed my digital cinematography role that I really got into it. Because I was doing video for a living, when it came to personal projects the last thing I wanted to do was video. So I got more into photography as means to stretch my artistic legs.

Who is your biggest photography inspiration?

Without a doubt it’s Stephen Shore. Anyone who has worked in the 70s and can turn a color photo of something bland and banal into a medium of artistic expression is an inspiration to me. His photos were never meant to be a memorializing action. He used photography to explore the world and the things around him, even if there were banal to the everyday person. I want to do the same.

What inspired the Unnaturally Natural series?

When you live in San Francisco for as long as I have, you sort of get used to the environment around you. You stop seeing things that are there all the time. One day I saw this particular tree on the street, a Ficus microcarpa, and then I started seeing them appear more and more. They are just there in unusual spots and all of a sudden they have character. I took one photo and that’s what started it.

What else inspires you?

This may sound dumb, but my two-year old kid. He can barely string two sentences together let alone know the importance of photography but I hope that, when he’s older and is looking through my cartons of photos, he will come to understand how I saw the world.

Where can we see your work next?  

I travel a lot and constantly post photos at