Howard Ruby: From Capitalist to Environmentalist

A polar bear mother and her cubs. i i

A polar bear mother and her cubs. Howard Ruby hide caption

itoggle caption Howard Ruby
A polar bear mother and her cubs.

A polar bear mother and her cubs.

Howard Ruby

As a kid, more than a half century ago, Howard Ruby started a little home photography business — taking pictures of other kids.

Eventually, Ruby put away his camera, but not his entrepreneurial spirit. He founded Oakwood Apartments, providing temporary housing for executives, consultants and the occasional divorcee. Today, Oakwood offers 18,000 such apartments in countries throughout the world. Ruby, now 70, is a very rich man.

A few years ago, Ruby bought an expensive digital camera. Then, he and his wife, the actress Yvette Mimieux, took a trip to northern Canada to photograph polar bears. There, Ruby fell in love — with his new camera and with his subjects.

Ruby began taking regular trips to photograph polar bears across the Arctic Circle. He built a lab in his house and equipped it with a half-dozen computers, big-screen monitors, and a giant machine that can churn out four-foot-wide, high-quality photo prints — literally life-size photos of his bears.

Along the way, the avowed capitalist and CEO became an ardent environmentalist.

This weekend, at the county courthouse in Santa Barbara, Calif., 70 of Ruby's large-format arctic photos will go on display as part of the city's Earth Day celebration.

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