Ramona Deckers is a photographer who divides her time between Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Lisbon, Portugal. Her work explores intimacy and what lies beneath the surface, each image telling its own story. Working with analog film and natural light requires her to be aware of each frame.
Tell us about your background and what inspired you to become a photographer?
Even as a child I was intrigued by analog cameras and the film developing process. I was also obsessed with Madonna and collected every picture that I could find to fill the walls of my room with. But it wasn’t until I was working as an intern at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam that I fell in love with photography after viewing work by famous photographers Nan Goldin and Larry Clark that was hanging side-by-side. I strongly identified with the pain in their respective pictures that felt all too familiar to me, and loved it. I knew right away that this was going to be my calling as those works translate innocence, sexuality and violence so beautifully there are no words needed.
How did your background influence your work?
Hailing from a working class neighborhood in the south of Holland, it's fair to say that my upbringing wasn’t easy and lacked communication. I was looking for a connection and intimacy and found it by taking pictures.
As a self-taught photographer, how did you get started and with what type of camera?
As mentioned earlier, as a child I was playing with analog cameras and, as part of playing dress-up, my cousin would photograph me dressed as Madonna. We recreated complete concerts, mimicking to perfection each song and echt outfit. Unfortunately, we no longer have those negatives as back then it was not as common to preserve them.
My first cameras were a Nikon FM2 35mm and a medium format Hasselblad 500CM. They are both still great cameras!
How would you describe your work and what would you consider an exceptional photograph?
My work is intimate and intuitive and I'm really looking for a connection with my subject, searching for a deeper layer and uniqueness. An exceptional photograph is when everything (light, composition, emotion) comes perfectly together, not necessarily in a technical sense… but more organically. When shooting (analog) film you only later see the results when developing and scanning the negatives. In the moment of shooting you are not so much thinking about the outcome. Developing and scanning negatives feels a little like unwrapping small gifts and it's a great feeling when you "unwrap" a great image.
You live and work in Amsterdam and Lisbon, both large cities but culturally quite different. As an artist and photographer, what inspires you in both places?
In Amsterdam I love to document city life and people. In Lisbon I am more drawn to nature and Portugal's coast. It’s such a photogenic place and who wouldn’t love shooting at the beach? It’s so open and organic and results in such dreamy pictures.