Maurice Ramirez Keeps Rocking in Photos
A former rock-and-roll music photographer switches gears, aiming his camera at brides, everyday folks, corporate giants, and commercial clients.
Photo by Maurice Ramirez
Stilted posing of an artist or unflattering lighting of a CEO in a headshot could give the impression of being uncreative or untrustworthy—and sink a career. Best leave it in the hands of Maurice Ramirez. He started as a music photographer, shooting bands like U2, Green Day, and Metallica with credits including MTV and Rolling Stone, then moved on to corporate rock stars like Apple’s Steve Jobs and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, as well as lots of stressed-out brides.
But lugging gear through downtown San Francisco, smelling of spilled drinks at 3 a.m. got old. His mother had taught him about business, including valuing his time, so this father of an infant son slowed things down, focusing on more commercial photography, wife Nina running the business from their studio on the lot shared with Rhythmix Cultural Works.
Still, every photographer should have the experience of shooting bands live, he said, racing to get the shot within the first three songs with unpredictable lighting and getting over the sense of awe in the face of celebrity, excellent training for shooting weddings. “Brides are tougher than any rock star I’ve ever had to work with. They have one day, and they’re totally new at this,” he said. “It made me appreciate what was real, too. Let’s just look at the normal people and the normal beauty of their normal lives. It’s pretty awesome.”
Ramirez claims that he is not an artist. “I’m more about pulling from the subject because I find people more interesting than myself,” he said. But his artistic voice is immediately and absolutely recognizable. Ramirez cited portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz as his greatest influence, and his work is similarly imbued with humanity. Visually it more closely resembles that of Jill Greenberg, the portraitist and fine photographer made somewhat infamous for her End Times series of crying babies. With images richly saturated, so crystal clear they approach hyperrealism, and lighted dramatically and meticulously, artist or not, Ramirez is something of a rock star.