An Interview with Photographer Rambo
Rambo’s images in fashion, music, and portraits have been featured by GQ, RollingStone.com, VICE.com, Essence.com, Sweets, Garance Doré and many more. She most recently captured, “A Day with Chris Brown of Refueled Magazine” for #StetsonStories. This week, photographer Heath Herring turns the camera around on Rambo for this intimate interview.
Stetson: How did you develop an interest in photography?
Rambo: I developed an interest in photography through a hard life. I found myself after a bad experience without words for the first time ever, I am a RAMBLER normally. so I picked up a camera, it allowed me to speak, and to develop the world as I wished it was, to remember that wonder, beauty, these are things that are important to me. and that maybe they’re important to grow, it was very healing.
S: What did the early days of photography look like for you?
R: The early days of photography look like everyone else’s…BAD. Haha, I’ve only been at this for four years now, and I didn’t have many early days before my friend got famous, and my job was touring and photographing him, so my early days had a lot of pressure and travel, and it turns out that was the perfect learning environment for me. But the early days were still bad, ha, I still kind of feel like I’m in my early days. You just keep pressing the button, every single day, and you get better at making what you wish to.
S: In what way is leading a creative life important to you?
R: I don’t think leading a creative life IS important to me. If I could take the pill that would allow me to sit at a desk and work, I’d be tempted to take it, ha. I didn’t choose the creative life, it chose me. I think it IS important, however, to get to be yourself in this world. I am built for this. For this kind of free life.
S: Tell us a little bit about the role fashion plays in your life and your work.
R: Fashion is an extension of expression to me. I really love ideas, and fashion is one more way to see them expressed, to experiment. I love dressing up; I always have, I get excited about clothes in a way I’m realizing isn’t the norm. So I try to lean into that and create scenes and characters; I enjoy using fashion to create new worlds.
S: Has your work changed over time?
R: My work has definitely changed over time. I hope it always does. I have never been someone who is easily contented, it can be a character flaw, but it can also be a strength. I hope to never live a life where I feel finished. The older I get, the more I know what I want, but my soul is young, so it delights in finding new ways to do things. I bring all of that to my work.
S: You seem to have a natural talent for creating a sense of ease with your subjects. Can you share with us some insight into the way you interact with the people you photograph?
R: I grew up wanting to become a doctor, and pursued that as long as I was able, so I grew up working in hospitals and rehabilitation. It is easy to make people comfortable because I’ve been healing people my entire life. I genuinely love the human species and want the best for them, so it’s easy when it’s my job to photograph someone to make that a celebration of that person, to show them how beautiful they are just for being here on earth. Cheesy, I know, but I enjoy making people feel calm and cared for, and it’s possible to do that in photography.
S: From your point of view, what makes a good photograph?
R: A good photograph…what makes a good photograph… I think in my life I have learned I am not worried about standards. I only enjoying criticizing my own work, haha. I think for me what makes a good photograph is one that makes someone feel something. It moves the viewer and hopefully moved the people creating it.
S: Any interesting projects recent-past, present or future you can tell us about?
R: As far as projects go, I just built an art install to photograph fortress festival musicians in, and it got pretty wild. We built one side of the room to look like an eighties mall, and the other side was just a version of my grandma’s kitchen covered in 50k worth of fake money, maybe what I wish I could have given her, haha, and it was lit by pink and blue dual tones. I enjoyed designing the world and setting, I didn’t know I would be into that, and it was really funny to see the effects of being in a neon room for fourteen hours a day two days in a row, haha.
S: What are some words of wisdom, advice, or uniquely-Rambo perspective you could share with us?
R: If I had any wisdom for humans out there it would be to remember that we are built for different skills, and we’re meant to be doing this life together. People who are good at business should be helping artists make a living, and artist should be helping business people imagine. There are a million other examples of skill sharing I could go into, but mainly, it’s don’t try to make yourself into something you aren’t. The most important thing in this life to me is kindness. Always and forever. It is easy to be kind, it just requires humility and communication, myself learning this the most daily, ha. Concisely, stay learning, pursue gentleness, go outside, let wonder take your breath away daily.