Member Moment: Dylan Ramirez

Film Club
This week we interviewed Dylan Ramirez, a street photographer who shared work from his senior thesis project at Rutgers University titled “Impermanence”. This project is an expression of the nomadic lifestyle Dylan has endured through moving around in many cities throughout his life. Scroll down to see his work and read the interview! 

PL: Can you tell us more about this project? 

DR: Impermanence is my senior capstone project for my undergrad photography minor. I drew inspiration from the many different places I’ve lived in. I’ve probably had five or six different addresses in the past 10 years. Whether it was due to leases being lapsed, job changes, familial obligations, financial reasons, or just personal life choices, I’ve never really had a place to call “home” for too long. By the time I get comfortable, things happen and I end up moving to a new place, almost like dating a new partner right after a breakup. What even is a home to someone who leads a nomadic lifestyle? This is what I tried to explore in this series. 

PL: What inspired you to start this project? 

DR: Even before it became my thesis project, I wanted to do a personal series with myself in the photos. Most of the photos I shoot are very detached and candid, I like to capture scenes of street life or urban geometry at very spontaneous moments with very little human interference. I knew I wanted the series to feel graphic and urban, I’m very drawn to city life. There’s something new to be discovered at every corner, and something being taken away, you live with the history on a daily basis. I’ve lived in Philly and Chicago, and visited New York from time to time, and I always appreciated graffiti art. It really is art, because at any given moment it can be washed away by city maintenance, or covered by some new tagger. Temporary things are a big part of why I like shooting, because you can hold it in a photo forever. 

PL: What are some key elements or themes portrayed in this project? 

DR: Graffiti and sticker bombing are a big threadline in my work. I’ve lived in urban settings most of my life, surrounded by tags and slap canvases. Moving to a new house or apartment felt just like adding a new tag or sticker to a wall of graffiti. There's an impermanence to where I live, and at any moment it’ll be replaced by somewhere new to call “home”. 

PL: Do you have any goals or ideas of how you want to grow this collection of photographs?

DR: This series was a treat to shoot, perhaps wherever I go or end up next may be added to the collection. I’d also love to capture what the idea of “home” means to other people as well, maybe even for those who have no home to go to. 

PL: Out of all of these photos, which one is your favorite and why? 

DR: Most people that have seen the work like the mural or costume photos, I really love Memory Lane (the wood plank), it’s more personal. I got the idea to cut the photos into fragments from a piece I saw by Lisa S. Roberts at a gallery once, where she made these cool color gradients from strips of paper. Some of the photos incorporated were my early photos from my first camera, a Rebel T5 I bought in a thrift shop. It’s kind of like a timeline of the many places I've lived, and some of the fond memories I had living in those places. The end of the timeline faded on purpose, because history is still being written.

PL: When taking pictures, what are some objects or elements or feelings within a scene that inspire you to take a photo? 

DR: I like to focus on details and geometric forms in a lot of my shots. There’s a beauty in something as small and as overlooked as a soda can on the ground, or an old building in between skyscrapers. A professor of mine once told me that even a photo of shit can look good with the right lighting, which is how I approach every scene that I capture. Everything around us has a story, it’s our job as photographers to capture that story. I never like to waste a good candid moment, sometimes I’ll even use my phone if I don’t have my Canon on me. You’ll never know if you’ll get that moment back.


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