Ronald James will be reopening his studio in the upper east side. Ronald had enjoyed a successful career for a number of years, taking photos of celebrities such as Brooke Shields and Elizabeth Hurley and shooting photo spreads for various magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar and Elle, before taking a break.
It’s not surprising that Ronald has a love of photography as he grew up around photographers and photoshoots. His mother, Lizzette Kattan, was fashion director for Cosmopolitan in 1976 and moved on to becoming the Editor in Chief of Harper’s Bazaar Italia in 1978. She launched Men’s Harper’s Bazaar in 1979, and she was the Editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar France when it opened in 1983. Ronald spent his childhood days running around the sets of renowned photographers such as Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts and Chris von Wagenheim. When Ronald began to experiment with photography, he had artists like Joe Eula and Ron Ferri to advise and mentor him.
Edward Steichen is usually regarded as the first fashion photographer. He was commissioned to take thirteen images featuring Paul Poiret’s fashion designs for the Art et Decoration magazine. Fashion magazines have been around since the 17th Century with illustrations of the latest fashions, but when photography became popular, it was quickly adopted by the industry. Fashion photography focuses on displaying the latest styles of clothing and items. It is most common on advertising boards and in fashion magazines. The photography will usually feature models wearing the display items.
The photographer David Bailey once dismissed fashion photography as “a portrait of someone wearing a dress,” but most would disagree with him. Fashion photography is much more than just showing an outfit when it is done well. Irving Penn, the photographer with the longest tenure in the history of Vogue magazine, saw his own role as “selling dreams, not clothes.” Ronald would agree with Irving, saying, “photography is much more than freezing a moment of time. It is a collaborative process of an entire team, dedicated to the art form of fashion, and together we craft a story through images that resonate.”
The advent of fashion magazines helped to establish fashion photography as an art form. Fashion magazines like ‘The Lady’s Magazine’ and ‘Le Costume Francais’ had been popular in Europe since the 1700s, with Harper’s Bazaar debuting in 1867 as the first real American offering. Condé Nast bought an American social magazine entitled Vogue in 1909 and turned it into a high-class fashion publication with international aspirations. The centre of the fashion industry at the turn of the Century was Paris, and using photographs helped the rest of the world catch a glimpse of the latest styles. Fashion photography has provided us with a vivid record of social history and a reflection of contemporary culture through the centuries.
Ronald is eager to get back in the studio, but he has enjoyed the change of pace over the last few years. As well as starting a family, he has co-authored a book with his mother dedicated to her home country of Honduras. The book, titled ‘Roatan and the History of the Bay Islands‘ (https://ronaldjames.com/roatanbook), is a combination of personal essays and unique photos. It paints an intimate portrait of Roatan, one of the hidden gems of the Caribbean. The book melds the island’s rich cultural past and the heritage that continues to shape the island’s growth. Ronald’s photographs paint a vivid image of this “paradise on earth.” Ronald is looking forward to reopening his studio doors and crafting compelling stories that coalesce fashion and culture.