Henry Ramirez: A World-Traveling Photographer
Henry Ramirez first traveled to Paris in 1995, while still in college. It was during this inaugural trip that his love for the City of Lights and his affinity for travel was born. On the weekends during this time overseas, he and his travel companions would journey across Europe, visiting such sites as London, Amsterdam, Spain, Rome, and Switzerland. “At the time, I thought I’m never going to come back here. This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I said I better start taking these photographs,” he explains. And so began his introduction to photography. Soon after Ramirez’s 1996 graduation from The University of Texas at El Paso, he started a new job, and he was asked to travel to Paris for work. When he returned to the States after this second trip, Ramirez says he began to feel homesick for Paris. “I came back a different person. The way that I thought and saw the world, and I saw how the world’s really all related,” he says. It also sparked a love for photography that has not stopped.
After his second time in Paris, Ramirez says he got the travel bug and became determined to visit again. He has since made the journey back around every year-and-half to two years. Currently, though, he has not been able to visit Paris in about five years: “I’m due,” laughs Ramirez. However, he has been able to travel to other locales in addition to France, either on his own, through work, or via a membership in the World Affairs Council of Houston. Such trips include time spent in Peru, Turkey, the Sahara Desert, and Beijing.
Ramirez clearly has an interest in learning about the world around him. In addition to his extensive global travel, and to his undergraduate degree in computer information systems from UTEP, Ramirez received his MBA with an emphasis in finance in 2003, and a Master of Science in Information Systems in 2008, both from the University of St. Thomas. A self-trained digital photographer, Ramirez has also participated in a couple of photography classes to better hone his craft.
People began to take notice of his photography via Facebook, as he would post a couple of pictures of his travels for his family and friends’ enjoyment. They would then become curious and ask where the photo was taken, how he got there, and other questions. “I know there's a lot of people that just haven’t traveled, just don't know what's out in the world. And I'm hoping that when they see a couple of these photographs that it inspires them to want to go out and travel more…Photographs are often like a conversation starter to talk about travel,” he says.
Ramirez also enjoys taking pictures of historical and well-known sites throughout the world and has many favorite images from time spent in Paris, Costa Rica, Peru, and China. These locales inspire him. “We've evolved from these specific moments in history…And we're just currently part of this chapter in the story... I think about our religion, our politics, our customs, you know, they all come from someplace… One book that inspired me was The Da Vinci Code. Because in that story they traveled to all these different countries and you learn these tidbits about how things evolved and why they did,” he says.
After a recent move to Arizona, Ramirez has lately taken up desert landscape photography, and he has been able to exercise his skills at such landmarks as the Grand Canyon and Sedona. He likes to get to know his surroundings before taking a photo, as he has done with the Grand Canyon. Seeking out certain spots that not as many people have taken pictures of, paying attention to what the weather is like, what time of day it is, whether there are animals in the scene, and more are all points that he takes into consideration as he chooses what he photographs.
A particular favorite image of his was taken of Cathedral Rock at Sedona. He and some friends decided at the spur-of-the-moment to visit there on a Tuesday, which turned out to be significant, as he found out that Tuesdays were actually the meeting day of a particular group that gathers at Cathedral Rock for music and dancing. “They’re just kind of moving almost as if to the wind,” describes Ramirez. “And at the base of this rock…when you first start going down, you’re in the trees, you’re going up this path…then you get to this clearing. And the clearing is this broad, flat rock base. And that’s where they were dancing, and overlooking the forest out there. It was really cool imagery and setting…and we sat up there till about 7:40 right when the sun was starting to set.” And that’s when he turned around, and captured the picture. “Apparently they do that every Tuesday,” he says. “It was just coincidental we went on a Tuesday and got to experience all this.”
Ramirez is honored to exhibit his photography on the Schmidt Fine Art Gallery website, and he looks forward to continuing to fine tune his skillset as a photographer even more. “There's a balance between being technical and being artistic,” Ramirez says. “I want to become technical enough that…I choose the correct tools to do the work. But for me the most important part is the artistry. Even if you take a picture with your iPhone, is there symmetry in the photography…what story does it tell? So I guess I want to learn to become a better storyteller with photography.” To Ramirez, his photos throughout the years resemble a sort of diary or journal that reminds him of his life, his trips, and his time spent doing what he enjoys. Instead of collecting coffee cups or t-shirts or postcards during his travel, Ramirez has collected a multitude of personal images over the years. “These photos are my souvenirs…There’s something kind of comforting about revisiting these places and taking your life with you wherever you go,” he says.