| By Kaleen Luu |
Poised, personable and passionate, photographer Ramón Rik Singley II easily captures an audience with his knowledge of the craft. The experienced visual artist expertly melds together his talent for the visual arts and writing, his first passion. He attributes his success as a content producer to his proximity to his roots in the entertainment mecca of Los Angeles.
“I’m always kind of proud to say that I’m an LA native because I never meet people from here, everyone’s from someplace else and LA is in the periphery of the business,” Singley said.
His history with working in editorial and the broadcast media and film industries dates back to the late ‘90s, when he wrote for several LA based hip-hop magazines. Singley dabbled with Rap Pages, Vibe and Unleashed, then-popular publications. It was during that time that he would receive an assignment that would pivot his career.
“I had to interview a legendary rapper named Biz Markie, and I was scheduled to go interview him for this magazine, but the photographer didn’t show,” Singley said. “So the publisher of the magazine asked me to take some pictures, so I went to my dad’s and borrowed his camera. The magazine really loved the photos and published it with my writing.”
Singley was inspired to expand his photography work after getting a taste of it at a shoot.
From that point, the seed of being a photographer was planted. It was the first time Singley had ever seen his work in that context, and with his writing and photo work realized alongside each other, he knew he had to pursue it.
At first, he tried to further that path by working as an assistant for professional photographers, but when that didn’t pan out due to his lack of experience, Singley went back to school.
A graduate of Art Center in Pasadena, where he earned his degree in Photography, Singley’s photo journey was only just beginning. Proximity was important in launching a media career, so he made the decision to move to New York to catapult his career and build business relationships.
This tip helped Singley expand his portfolio and broaden his expertise.
Over the years, the creator acknowledges he’s overcome some challenges with navigating the industry. As an image maker, Singley struggled with gaining model releases and outsourcing images. Model releases were essential for him to outsource his work. Singley had to learn to establish that firsthand with talent he worked with to reign in further opportunities.
“There’s a lot that goes into the media space, in terms of politics, relationships and sticking your nose into areas that you may be intimidated by.” Singley said, “Getting to know people, being at the right places, meeting the right peopl e… it’s such a journey.”
Over the years, he has gained insight into all the different roles it takes for a successful production.
Surrounded by publicists, editors and managers, he’s learned to foray his way through the celebrity space. From all the inner workings of the media world, to the different roles working behind the scenes to make it all happen, Singley’s discovered it takes a team to elevate a production and make it a success.
Exploring the Producer’s Role
To date, Singley recalls one particular experience shooting a cover shot of actress Julia Stiles where he was enamored in the moment because he was surrounded by a wonderful production crew.
“It was one of the first times that I had all the little itty bitty pieces covered. I had a good team around me and I would say from an aspect of creating content, having all the little pieces makes it a really comprehensive production,” Singley said. “It really allowed me to explore video and photography at the same time.”
The shoot was a big success for his career, as he didn’t use all the images from the shoot for just one print. It was first published in New York, and he was able to outsource the unused photos to another publication, giving him the chance to spread out his portfolio. Across the pond, Stella magazine from the London Telegraph Media Group reached out to Singley for the other photos. That distribution opportunity raised him to a new level, soaring his prestige and giving him more credibility as an image maker.
“I was able to outsource the images twice and the magazine in London, they actually called me,” Singley said. “They had seen the images online, and requested the image for their cover, which was really cool. It’s flattering and every step leads to something else.”
This is one of the most important lessons that Singley has learned through the years.
The artist said that the most important thing to remember while building up his career was that every little victory was a win.
While it felt like progress wasn’t being made at times, it was a snowball effect and led to greater professional understanding.
“If it’s giving you a platform, take it. Anything that you can get, take it, because this business, it’s hard to get on the inside, especially in the digital age,” Singley said. “There’s so many different platforms to align yourself with. So anywhere you can get in and be associated with something, try to make that work and ride that wave all the way out because I promise you, it’ll lead to something else.”
Always growing and ever evolving, Singley is a marketing madman. He remarked that in his current headspace, he’s in a marketing phase. To align himself with his future prospects, he’s pursuing other endeavors in the tech world and seeking to expand to a large platform.
The visual artist is currently pursuing his master’s degree, and he wants to use that to become an educator down the road. With so much to learn in photography, especially working with film, Singley hopes to help students with his vast array of knowledge and to inspire others. There’s always a new opportunity on the horizon.
About Ramón R. Singley, II
A Los Angeles native and BFA graduate of the photography program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. It was there where his academic philosophy and approach to image-making and the arts began. He continued his education at Claremont Graduate University where he obtained a Master’s in Art Business and is a current MFA candidate.
As a student, he studied the history of still and motion photography, which allowed for the imagination to run wild with the idea of being experimental, forward-thinking and different. He studied and was inspired by experimental art filmmakers, Chris Marker, Maya Deren and Ernie Gehr.
Alexey Brodovitch, William Klein, Louis Faurer, Henri Cartier Bresson, Roy DeCarava, Lartigue, Sarah Moon, Deborah Turbeville, Francesca Woodman, Nadav Kander and Paolo Roversi inspired his still work.
Singley is a featured columnist and photographer for several editorial publications around the world. He’s worked as an editor for major advertising agencies such as Deutsch, Inc., Grey Advertising and Gotham in New York City. Behind the camera, he’s photographed notable celebrities and musicians, navigated various roles on film/television sets, including unit stills, key art advertising and exhibited in galleries both domestically and internationally.
Aside from his still photography background, Singley has directed and produced an array of video productions in various roles and capacities from the initial idea, to location scouting, dealing with publicists, talent, post-production and everything in between. He’s been a Director of Photography on music videos, BTS concepts and music journalism interviews. Additionally, Singley has navigated a role as curator at One Art Space Gallery in New York.
Under the umbrella of the arts, Singley has worn several hats, as this has prepared him to explore many ideas and ventures aligning to the media space.
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