I wish someone had told me when I was in high school just how essential it is to own oneself: to be unapologetic in both your success and failure, to feel at home in your body, to say with conviction the things you seek (even well knowing you might change your mind next month.) There is so much to be said about a young woman who moves through the world in a way in which little seems like obstacles, and everything feels like opportunity.
Riley Ruff is a high school senior in Las Vegas. This shoot, with Filthy Mouth Creative (i.e. Brooke Olimpieri) is only her second foray into modeling, which I think works to her advantage here. I love the aesthetic in these images, a little rough around the edges. The backyard after school vibe lends itself to what she’s bringing to the table.
While chatting with Riley on the state of the world, her future plans, and what scares her I was impressed, endeared, envious, and forced to look at my own jaded nature. I don’t know if there is a word for this feeling yet. The girl has big impressive plans and her conviction in them is so noteworthy, I wish I could bottle up and prescribe it. Her sunny view of the world is infectious. Her answers are as innocent as they are honest. Her take on life is as refreshing as her newly minted model face.
Lately, I’ve been in search for something to bowl me over, wow me, make the blood move. If this is what the girls have got going on in Las Vegas; I’m thinking we all need a little more of it.
LF: You’re still in high school. It’s an advantageous place to be. What do you want from the world?
RR: I don’t think I’ve ever put much thought into what I want out of the world. I guess I would like a place where everyone can coexist harmoniously. I try my best to be kind to the world so that the kindness can be reciprocated back to me.
LF: You’re living in Las Vegas. Tell me about what you’re looks like there. If you were taken away today, what would you remember?
RR: I kind of love hate Las Vegas. It is cool to live here solely because it’s Las Vegas; everyone knows the city. Growing up here, though, has taken away from the “wow factor” of Las Vegas. The city just feels normal to me. If I was taken away from Las Vegas, more than anything, I would remember the people I have met here. In Vegas I have met my best friends and an abundance of people who will have a lasting impact on me. I would also remember Lyfe Kitchen because they have the best vegan lettuce wraps, and I would miss them dearly.
RR: I am always wowed by things that are beautiful. In Las Vegas, one thing that has always wowed me is the skyline at night. There’s this place that my friends and I call the Basin that we would go to all the time at night and you could always see the skyline perfectly.
LF: This is one of your first shoots. What is drawing you to modeling? How does it feel to be infant of the camera?
RR: Modeling is just really fun. It’s like getting to be a grown up Barbie. I love being in front of the camera. At first I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would be with someone else taking photos of me, but it feels really natural to me which is pretty cool.
LF: If you died tomorrow, what would your obituary say?
RR: My obituary would probably greatly reflect on my life as a student. Out of everything I do, I have always been the best at and most passionate about school. It would probably say something cheesy about me being a daughter, sister, and best friend. I’m very ambitious, and I’m sure all of my life goals would written about as well.
LF: Tell me about school… I rarely get to ask this questions, but what do you want to be, and why…?
RR: I am just finishing my last year in high school (finally). This summer I will be moving to a university in California (not sure which one yet) where I will study neuroscience. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to save people’s lives, so I am working towards pursuing a career in neurosurgery.
LF: What was the last book, piece of art, or something that really rocked your world, shook your perspective, or changed you…?
RR: I had to really think about this one, but I would say the last book that really had a profound affect on me was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I read it for the first time in 8th grade, and although I have read quite a few books and seen a lot of things since, TKAM really changed how I viewed myself and others. It put into perspective racial and class privilege, and for the first time, I understood that racism was still alive in my country. I understood that not everyone really is treated equally.
RR: Right now I am really scared of not getting into my dream schools because I’ve worked really hard to get in to them, and it would be really disappointing. I’m scared of a lot of things really, I’m kind of a baby. In general, I’m scared of anything bad that the world has to offer. There are so many bad things that can happen and the magnitude of it is scary.
LF: How FAST do you live?
RR: The Fastest (;