Published November 04, 2022 by Tom Porter

Kathleen Waller ’02 Interviews Mike Ritter ’02 in Recently Launched Arts Journal, “The Matterhorn”

“Photographers are at their best when they're as passionate about something else as they are about photography,” said Mike Ritter ’02. An acclaimed Boston-based photographer, Ritter was reflecting on his time at Bowdoin as part of a wide-ranging interview with classmate Kathleen Waller.

ritter and waller class of 02
Mike Ritter ’02 and Kathleen Waller ’02

The interview was published in The Matterhorn, an online newsletter recently launched by Waller that explores the intersections of literature and art. Ritter achieved an art history and visual arts interdisciplinary major at Bowdoin (along with a Spanish major!), which he said provided him with the academic background to be an effective artist.

“[A]rt history paired with making art of your own is a great way to learn,” he explained. “[A]rt is about a lot of things... power, religion, money, communication, revolution, activism, and yes, inspiration. But you really get to see it's not made in some vacuum. It's in and of its time…”

Ritter said he didn’t take his first photography class until his junior year at Bowdoin “and it was not technical at all. Assignments were ‘photograph air’ and ‘stay in one place for an hour and shoot a roll of film.’ I liked this order as the technical really must come second to what photographers are actually trying to say. Bowdoin started me off first on what I wanted to say…” he continued. “It didn't let me get bogged down in perfect printing, perfect exposure, perfect anything, really.”

Ritter is currently involved in an ongoing initiative called Beautiful Dot, a portraiture project capturing the many faces of Dorchester, Massachusetts, where he resides. One of those portraits (“Mr. Chery”—a school principal) is currently part of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ Portraits of Leadership project. Ritter also recently launched a “politics-through-portraits” project which aims to highlight the issue of air quality safety in Boston Public Schools

Read Kathleen Waller’s interview with Mike Ritter in The Matterhorn.