Yvanna Ramos, a Portland-based photographer, has been on an incredible journey to transform her passion for photography into a career that empowers and celebrates marginalized communities, especially women of color.
Ramos’ journey began with her mother’s thoughtful gift of a DSLR camera on her 13th birthday, which fueled her creativity and allowed her to capture the world around her. However, it wasn’t until the age of 23, after navigating life as a young adult, that she decided to reignite her passion for photography in pursuit of a more fulfilling career. In her own words, the photographer shares, “Once I had a clear vision of what I wanted, I made some huge life changes that got the ball rolling. I started to see that I could turn my passion into a career, and I’ve been pursuing it ever since.”
“Although I was born in Portland and live here now, I actually grew up in the surrounding areas about 30 minutes outside of the city. While I didn’t grow up in an environment that was particularly stimulating creatively, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by nature, which instilled in me a deep appreciation for the natural landscape,” she explains.
The natural landscapes of Portland and its surrounding areas played a vital role in shaping Ramos’ deep appreciation for nature, which is evident in her work. However, the lack of diversity and culture in the city pushed her to seek out more diverse subjects and infuse her work with the sentiment of her heritage as a Latina in Portland.
Ramos explains, “I think my approach to my work is somewhat influenced by a sense of not quite belonging in this city and feeling like my true home is elsewhere, where more culture and traditions are alive.” As her skills evolved, her focus shifted towards storytelling, using her images to communicate messages, evoke emotions, and challenge perceptions of beauty. She aims to empower and celebrate marginalized communities through her work, especially women of color.
In discussing her growth as a photographer, she continues, “Of course, I still want my work to be beautiful and engaging, but I also want it to have meaning and impact. I’m interested in storytelling and using my images to communicate a message or evoke a feeling. I’m working on this currently but I hope to challenge people’s perceptions of beauty and encourage them to see things in a new light.”
Elsewhere, Ramos also emphasizes the importance of intuition and collaboration in her work, saying, “While inspiration provides a foundation, I’m big on trusting my intuition to guide me as I create. So even if the photos don’t turn out like how I envisioned, it’s still a valuable learning experience, and the unique results end up resonating with me more. I want to emphasize that a lot of my work is a collaborative effort that involves building connections with people and creating a shared experience, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.”
The essence of femininity is a prominent theme in the photographer’s work, which she uses to contribute to a more nuanced and accurate portrayal of womanhood. Her evolving aesthetic reflects her personal growth and an openness to discovering her unique “look” in the future. Above all, she strives to create authentic images that inspire others and leave a lasting impression.
To learn more about Yvanna Ramos and her favorite works, don’t miss our exclusive interview below, where she breaks down her creative process and the stories behind her captivating photographs.
I photographed my dad on his property last February, the same property I grew up on. He was getting ready to retire and I knew it was a pivotal time in his life so I wanted to document it. I got there early in the morning so I could capture the beautiful fog in the background. I really loved watching my dad pose and serve face during this shoot. He was really gracious with the whole process.
The best feedback I received was that others were able to relate to my dad’s spirit in the photos and saw a reflection of their own fathers who are also Latino. It was heartwarming to hear how much the photos resonated with them. Being able to capture his spirit and essence in these photos came very naturally and overall I just adore these moments.
I absolutely love these photo, and it’s such a perfect example of collaboration with some truly amazing women who I deeply admire. Working with my favorite creative partner, Williejane, is always such an inspiring experience, and we often end up doing really fun and spontaneous photoshoots together. For this particular shoot, we were fortunate enough to have Iliana helping us with styling and lighting, and the whole process was such a group effort.
I felt incredibly lucky to know and work alongside these women, and getting to work with the model, Sarita, and the MUA, Selena, was a dream. Seeing their skills and creativity up close was just incredible. They are both such iconic women that I had been admiring from afar prior to this. From start to finish, this was truly a group effort, and I think the final result really reflects that. We did our thing!
I really had fun experimenting with the long exposures and the editing process for these photos. The plan was to achieve this red look but I accidentally rented an LED panel instead of an RGB light. To work around this, we added some color gels to the panel and set the Kelvin temperature to its warmest setting, resulting in a soft orange hue. I had to rely heavily on the editing process to get the desired red look.
Luckily I had Jay, my wonderfully talented partner, to set everything straight with the lighting. Shoutout to Shani, Dee, and Isaiah for collaborating on this one. Naturally, I don’t gravitate toward working with this lighting but I think experimenting is necessary to keep things fresh and I’m hoping to do something with a blue look soon!
These photos are honestly some of my favorite. One of the things I love most about it is how the model, Biddy, isn’t always making direct eye contact with the camera in every shot. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Williejane on this photoshoot, who was shooting on VHS, while I captured some stills.
The result is a collection of photos that convey the feeling of capturing a moment that was witnessed from a distance. This storytelling element is one of my favorite aspects of this shoot. I must also give credit to the incredible team of women who made this photoshoot possible. Their support and hard work were invaluable in bringing this vision to life, I was just one piece of the puzzle.
This photoshoot is special to me because we did it purely for ourselves. Mickey and I drove to Sauvie’s Island and stopped at random spots with cool landscaping. The photos in this set are a mix of 35mm film, polaroids, and digitals. We had a lot of fun experimenting with the storytelling and fake blood. There’s a beautiful green glow above Mickey’s head in the polaroid scan, and the slight blur of the image only adds to its charm.
I’m obsessed with it because it feels questionable and odd. What made the experience even more enjoyable was the fact that it was a spontaneous collaboration with Mickey, a great friend and an amazing artist. He just gets it!