Meet Abe Ramirez, a 23-year-old photographer from Southern California who embarked on a two-week vacation that turned into a two-year, 10,000-mile trip across South America on his bicycle. Curious about his journey we chatted a bit with Abe about his work and experiences. Read the Q&A below and mark your calendars as we’re excited to welcome Abe and his latest travel photography exhibition, RUGGED, to SEED Peoples Market on Thursday, November 16th from 6-8PM.
Tell us a little bit about you. My name is Abe, I’m 23 years old from Southern California.
Where is home? Corona, California is my hometown but I think I can make any place my home as long as there is good company, waves, mountains, and plenty of outdoor activities. I think it would be hard for me to live in a city far away from all of that.
How did you develop an interest in photography? I decided I wanted to become a photographer before ever touching a camera. I had never owned one before but I knew I wanted to be outside, explore new places, and meet new people. Photography was just a way to do that.
What equipment do you prefer to use? Right now, I am working with a Canon 6d mk I, a 50mm 1.8, and a 70-200 2.8 IS I. I obviously don’t have the best gear but I think most of what I produce as a photographer is content based. When I was in South America living on my bicycle I didn’t have the ability to carry a bunch of high tech equipment. I only had room for 2 lenses and a camera body. I have learned to appreciate minimalism in every aspect of my life.
How would you describe your style? I would describe my style as rugged. I say this because I have broken a handful of lenses and camera bodies being outside exposed to the elements. My favorite photographs are often times the ones I have had to climb up a several thousand-foot mountain, camp in the snow, wake up at midnight and take astrophotography in below freezing temperatures. These are my favorite types of shots because of what it takes to get that photograph. The time and place I am there is secondary for me. The purpose of my photographs are to make the viewer feel like they are present in that moment. If I can make somebody escape from their office job for a second I feel like I have accomplished my goal with that photograph.
When out shooting – how much of it was instinctual vs planned? I would say seventy percent of my shots were instinctual. Sometimes I would have an idea of what I wanted to shoot before visiting a place but my favorite shots are typically the ones that are never planned. I think there is a skill in discerning the right moment to take your camera out and quickly set all the manual settings to take that special shot.
Tell us about your travels, how did you pick the spots you traveled to? Well, it’s a funny story actually. I started my travels on a two-week vacation that accidentally turned into a two-year trip. I met some inspirational people in-between those two weeks and I decided to leave my job and school back in CA. I was going to do something radically different, challenge cultural norms, and put myself in uncomfortable situations. I bought a bicycle and rode south to the southernmost region of Argentina. I traveled through three countries along the pacific coast of Central America and rode through six countries along the Andes mountains in South America for a total of 10,000 miles. I met people from all walks of life and learned new styles of living. I wanted to prove to myself that the idea of following my dreams and passions was a possibility. I did just that.
What if any were the difficulties you encountered on your travels? I’ve experienced a lot. I was robbed in Ecuador in gun point but I was also treated as family and a guest of honor in most places I visited. The people down there are so nice! They are literally willing to give you the clothes on their backs. I summited a 17,000 ft. Volcano in Colombia and a 20,000-ft. mountain in Bolivia. I sailed through a storm from Panama to Colombia. What I like to tell people is that for every bad thing that happens there are twenty good things that follow.
What do you want your viewers to take away from your work? I want my viewers to be inspired to follow their dreams and passions. Whether its traveling or working in a town you lived your whole life with a career you love. What I’m passionate about shows through my work and lifestyle. I want people to intimate that for themselves.
For more information please visit Abe Ramirez's website.