“A close friend of mine once told me, ‘You’re truly faced with yourself when you’re sober and alone.’” says Benjamin Peterson, a Portland-based creative.
Things hit pause when faced with a new reality of the pandemic of COVID-19. After a decade of managing and leading the presentation of other people’s creative work, the opportunity arrived to focus on personal creative projects.
To deal with the adjustment of working from home during quarantine and feeling directionless, Benjamin has turned to creative outlets from his youth like music, DJing, skateboarding, and most importantly, picking up his camera again.
“We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges.”
With the desire to create something tangible, Benjamin and his colleagues, Peter Gjovik (Art Director) and Tyler Banyay (Stylist) connected with Ramontay McConnell. Stetson first met Ramontay in 2019 when he shared his story of rodeo and horsemanship tradition here.
After hearing Ramontay’s story and point of view about being a black man in the western world by phone, they set out to tell his story through photography.
That story is an honest, multifaceted view of a man in discovery. People seem to have a caricature already imagined in their mind when they hear or see “black cowboy”.
“Folks view me as a black cowboy, but I see myself as just a man who’s passionate about the outdoors, animals and agriculture — which could be a bit “different” to some. I’d love to just change the way we view the day-to-day outdoorsmen and/or horsemen”.
This project highlights and celebrates all of those things that make Ramontay a unique figure.
Through this process, Benjamin has reconnected with his passion for photography and visual storytelling.
“Language is beautiful, but language is limiting. Art serves to expand the boundaries language and translate them into feeling. These photos make me feel something.”
It feels more pressing than ever that we continue to elevate black stories because they are the stories of America. They are the stories of endurance, faith, grit, and perseverance.
Benjamin Peterson is a Portland-based creative. A native midwesterner, he got his start touring the world as a professional musician, then transitioned to music management and creative consulting in New York. He now lives and works in Beaverton, OR. @benjamin.ptrsn
Peter Gjovik is a Portland-based designer and art director. Passionate both personally and professionally about worker’s rights, justice, and mental health, his work aims to reflect those passions through film, photography, and other design mediums. @petergjovik
Tyler Banyay is a multidisciplinary creative. He has experience in storytelling, brand identity, art direction, and cinematography. He lives in Portland Oregon and can be contacted on Instagram @tylerbanyay