Welcome to “After Hours," a new series showcasing the creative, passionate people that make Gap Inc. They are more than their titles; they are innovative individuals with awesome stories to share.
Scrolling through his photography portfolio, you'd never guess Ruben Hughes first picked up a camera just a little more than a year ago. Or that he's managed to succeed so spectacularly — producing portraits of places that are at once beautiful and haunting — all without any kind of formal training.
But then again, the man is motivated. The self-described American photographer and explorer — who also works as a Global Community Manager for Gap brand — is a photography addict. Whether hopping on a red-eye flight to race across the country for a single weekend, or simply dedicating time to roam through his homebase of New York with his camera, almost all of Ruben's off hours are spent chasing the perfect shot. It's fair to say that he's packed years of self-training into 15 short months.
“I think it's really important for people to find what they love," Ruben said. “At the end of the day, it's your life. You should really enjoy it."
When Ruben first became interested in photography, he asked a friend of his — a photographer — for tips on how to take better photographs. “He said 'Just put your camera on manual and go out and take photos.' And that's literally all I did," Ruben said. “I knew the type of photos I wanted to take, and I knew the way I wanted them to come out. So all it really came down to is me just going out and taking photos. I did mess up a lot, until I felt like I got it right. And it's still a learning experience."
Ruben's advice is refreshingly straightforward: Want to be good at something? Put in the hours. Interested in traveling? Plan a trip. Think you might be into weaving? Sign up for a class. “See what your threshold is for whatever you love to do," he said. “And just keep pushing yourself to see how far you can take it."
Yet despite this seemingly simple advice, Ruben knows how daunting this call to action can be.