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Telling Their Stories
By CARY ASHBY
February 24, 2004
COSHOCTON -- Photographer Johnny Ramos of Dayton said photos help tell a person's story. For the next few weeks, he has brought that perspective of storytelling to Coshocton.
"I have my own interpretation of the photographs, but I like to hear what other people say," said Ramos, 34, who taught himself photography. "That's what I like about the pictures -- it says a lot of things."
Street photography featuring "everyday people" is his favorite subject, he said, because everyone has a story to tell.
Ramos' work will be on display at the Pomerene Center for the Arts, 317 Mulberry St., until March 4. The exhibit features black and white photographs of Good Friday processions in Cleveland from 1999 through 2003.
Good Friday is the Friday in the Christian calendar before Easter Sunday honoring Jesus Christ's death on the cross.
Pomerene director Anne Cornell said Ramos' exhibit was timed to coincide with the beginning of Lent, the Christian season leading up to Easter.
The Good Friday procession starts at one church, from which men in the community carry sculptures of Jesus Christ. At a second church they meet the women who have sculptures of the Virgin Mary, Jesus' mother, explained Ramos, who grew up in Cleveland.
It ends at a third church where a Good Friday worship service is held.
Ramos, a native of Puerto Rico, said the procession is an integral part of the Latin community in Cleveland. He said it offers an opportunity to build community and express one's faith and culture.
One of the photographs shows men shouldering a sculpture of a reclining Jesus after his death on the cross. In the background is a billboard of Superman that advertises Six Flags amusement park.
Ramos said the dichotomy of the images was intentional. He especially liked having the two figures -- one secular, one sacred, but both with mythical qualities -- in the same shot.
"When I saw Superman, I knew it would be a great backdrop," said Ramos, who waited for the procession to reach the billboard before snapping the shot.
Originally a film maker specializing in documentaries, Ramos said making the transition to photographer was easy seven years ago. He said both mediums are part of the storytelling tradition.
"Film making takes so long to do. I needed immediate satisfaction so I took up photography," he said.
There are challenges in learning photography however, Ramos explained. Although anybody can use a camera, Ramos said, sometimes he struggles to find the right moment to snap a picture.
"You have to anticipate what's going to happen. You have to be on your toes all the time because you never know what's going to happen," he said. "That's photography, I'm looking for that right picture all the time."