While I’m scrolling through the vast amounts of images, within seconds I immerse into colorful breakfast smoothies and vacation cliff edge moments. But the mostly black and white photographs of the New Jersey born photographer Ramon Jamar let me hold on. And that for more than just a second. Each of his incredibly breathtaking picture tells a story. Elaborate and yet simple. I dive into this captured moment and wonder who the person in the picture is. What she feels. How she thinks. And how she sees the world. Those great images are created for eternity.
Ramon, where did you grow up?
I’m originally from New Jersey, I bounced back and forth between two small towns, Camden and Maple Shade. One city is predominately poor and black and the other predominately middle class and white. These living arrangements opened my eyes to the inequities of America at a very young age.
Most of your work is black and white. Why do you prefer that?
I’ve always loved looking through my grandparents and parents old black and white photographs. I’d sit and imagine what it was like to live in the past. All of my photo books at home are from photographers like Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, and Vivian Maier. I don’t know, I think I’m attracted to simplicity. I feel when you strip away the color, you remove any distractions.
What do you want to capture in your work?
From the first time I’ve picked up a camera for a purpose until today, I’ve asked myself that very question dozens of times. And I’ll probably ask myself that same question another dozen times. But for the most part I want to capture moments somewhere between reality and fantasy.
“I believe the female body in all forms defines beauty; it provokes passion, energy, and intrigue. Women are truly the goddesses of life.”
A lot of your work is very sexy, yet very strong portrait-like at the same time. What fascinates you about the female body?
The female form has been the subject of art for thousands of years. Both men and women alike have chosen a woman as their muse for their art. I’m no different in that perspective. I believe the female body in all forms defines beauty; it provokes passion, energy, and intrigue. Women are truly the goddesses of life.
How do you come upon your models, and when do you feel that you want to work with a specific girl?
In the beginning I’d shoot with people I knew; it’s easy as you work on your eye. I then moved on to using various social media platforms; Instagram, Facebook, Model Mayhem, etc. People would see my work and contact me to shoot. Recently I’ve been working with agencies in Philly and DC. But I enjoy finding people on the street who have an interesting look that I’d like to capture. Having diversity in my work is important to me; it’s a reflection of the world we live in.
A photographer is always on the search for the perfect picture. Do you think something like a perfect picture exist?
I don’t think perfection exists at all; at least in my own personal opinion. What is or what makes a “perfect” photograph is subjective. I don’t seek perfection in any of the images I create. It’s the reason I shoot film; it’s organic, a feeling of imperfection; after all real life isn’t perfect.
“I also enjoy finding people on the street who have an interesting look that I’d like to capture. Having diversity in my work is important to me; it’s a reflection of the world we live in.”
And talking of favorite image. Do you have a current fav image, if yes, which one and why?
I don’t think I have a favorite image maybe because I’m so critical of my own work. I don’t have any formal training, high school or college. So I’m always looking at my images and seeing how I can improve.
Usually it´s not the question I ask, but watching your images I am wondering about the technique. They come with so much great contrast and deepness. Can you tell us a bit about your creation process?
I’m a film photographer (mostly medium format which means only 10-12 shots per roll) and I don’t even own a digital camera anymore. Since I shoot mostly b&w film I find myself looking for those transitions of light in a scene. I’m a student of light. That’s why I love shooting film; there is no previews to distract you. It allows you the freedom to focus more on your subject. I experiment with variety of film stocks and developers to find out which film works best for a particular scene.
What pictures are hanging on your wall at home?
This is an awesome question! So I’ve recently started printing my work. I got tired of having my images only live online. They don’t feel real there. So I’ve printed out a few images from my trip to Peru last year. One of my favorite is of this elderly woman sitting on a stoop. I plan to print more of my work over the next few weeks. There is something about holding your own work in your hands.
“I enjoy good conversation and connecting with people…real connections not “likes/comment” on social media. Unfortunately I feel like society is losing those genuine connections; we’re becoming slaves to technology.”
I read that you are married and have kids. Besides spending time with them, what are the most precious moments in your life?
Not to get to sappy lol. My family means everything in the world to me. I met my wife in high school and we had our first child at 19. The birth of my daughters are the most proudest moments of my life. Honestly the most precious moments are the ones we spend together.
But other then the time I spend with family, the moments I share with close friends and those I photograph are special to me as well. I enjoy good conversation and connecting with people…real connections not “likes/comment” on social media. Unfortunately I feel like society is losing those genuine connections; we’re becoming slaves to technology.
“I don’t seek perfection in any of the images I create. It’s the reason I shoot film; it’s organic, a feeling of imperfection; after all real life isn’t perfect.”
What do you teach your kids to equip them for life?
Independence. Compassion. Self-worth. I’ve taught my daughters about the importance of independence and not being defined by a man. By fostering compassion in young people at an early age it becomes apart of their character, who they are. Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou was the first poem I’ve ever read to my daughters. Powerful words by a powerful woman. I want them to understand that beauty comes from within.
“One of my favorite things to do is to get up early and wander the street with a couple rolls of film. Anything to get me out of the house and off of my phone.”
What weekend type are you? Party? Staying at home with your family? Or something else?
A combination of all of the above lol. I’m a social person; I love a chill night at home with the family or a night out with friends. I’m also very adventurous, sky diving, white water rafting, whatever, I’m always down! But one of my favorite things to do is to get up early and wander the street with a couple rolls of film. Anything to get me out of the house and off of my phone.
Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
Showcasing my work in small galleries and photo books. As much as I love social media and the benefits it offers I want to create work for print only.