Photographer Rik Singley would like to have your attention
Written by Remy Haynes, Photography by Rick Single
A visual artist with many forms of expression, Ramon Rik Singley strives not just tor visual stimulation with his photography but provoking thought with social relevance. A tall order? Maybe. But Rik's highly trained mind and eye do this dance every time he sets out to express his passions. His latest show called, The Crest, about the malfeasance of gun violence against African Americans caught our attention. Printed in large scale. each aerial shot of the ocean and its ever-changing colors, tides and weather systems was named after a fallen victim of a hate crime. Choosing a beautiful wav to fight abuse and rights" infringement instead of violence is exactly how Rik's artist brain works. We were eager to learn more about this juxtaposition when we spoke with Rik about the purpose of this work.
“There is a responsibility, especially tor the younger generation, to keep pushing the conversation forward—but minus the violence. There are other ways of getting attention.” He goes on to explain the connection he felt toward the ocean for this particular cause because he has always believed water is healing and therapeutic. It made sense to him to connect the Black Lives Matter cause with healing. You can find his 'Crest' series on his fine art website at www.thechalkfields com
Rik worked hard as a student of the Art Center in Pasadena to push deeper into the meaning of imagery. Getting his undergraduate degree and then moving onto his masters. Rick studied the originators of black history art and vows to carry the torch forward.” James Van Der Zee and Gordon Parks are a couple of my heroes. They are some of the first photographers of color who were recognized. I'd like to represent a continuum in terms of black image makers from America.” He explains that it’s a major motivation for him to set an example as a black American and for other people of color aspiring to become visual artists. Since there are so few that reach domestic or international acclaim. He would like to help shift those statistics.
A trained image maker has many options for expression and Rik is utilizing several. He cut his teeth as a writer, then making still photographs, is currently working on films as a Director of Photography and has dreams of curating gallery shows. He is proud to dabble in many forms of image making and sometimes connects two or three together. Look at his com- mercial online portfolio at www.ramonriksingley.com you will see several celebrity portraits as well as international magazine articles he has written and photographed.
Both his fine art and commercial work could be considered alternative, odd, purposefully flawed and maybe a bit haunting. Choosing to photograph Julia Stiles with her hair obstructing her face or Anthony Hopkins with dramatic lighting and a small, coy smile are all choices Rik made to make an impact, tell a story, and get a message across to the viewer. Rik admits to typically having an ulterior motive when it comes to his image making. He works to create a narrative and provoke a message when possible, so the image never just stands alone. Rik also works hard to photograph people of color in an elevated way, he tells me, with high production value. He feels the subjects deserve that level of professionalism.
Aside from his vast education, Rik also spent time in New York city studying under one of his then men- tors, Ted Croner, one of the most famous reportage photographers from the 1940’s-1950’s modernity period in New York. Ted was associated with what was then called the New York School Photographers, who studied at the infamous Richard Avedon’s studio and worked with Alexey Brodovitch who was, at the time, the Art Director at Harper’s Bazaar magazine. “I spent quality time with Ted before he passed away and I'll never forget a compliment he paid me. He said [had the remarkable ability to click the shutter at the exact right time and that someone had told him that early on as well.”
“My work is meant to push the viewer into a closer examination of the narrative being conveyed.”
Ted telling him that he had a similar trait was truly a blessing and gave Rik the strength he needed to endure the windy road of surviving in the art world. Confidence is everything and Ted’s words would help Rik present his work to people in the commercial world. “It’s very challenging, pushing past certain levels in photography. You have to be strong willed and never give up. Hearing that from him was very moving for me. I'll always cherish the time spent with Ted because it made me feel as if I was part of a prestigious group.”
Moving forward as a visual artist Rik finds himself inspired these days by young musicians and movie makers who are pushing the envelope on what is creative and cool. It’s been a natural progression for Rik as a still photographer to move into shooting video. He mentions musicians by the name of Danger Mouse & Black Thought and how he took an interest in how they shot an entire music video in portrait view on an iPhone. I was skeptical until he sent me the link and then I saw what Rik saw, raw creativity and experimentation.
It’s about passion and opportunity colliding. Keep doing your art, no matter what
We sometimes forget as artists, to experiment, to play and it’s a shame because it is usually when we are in a ‘play’ state that new ideas come and interesting results can develop. I saw what Rik was drawn to in that iPhone video, a breaking of barriers and standards. Isn’t that what art is all about? As we close our meeting he offers a piece of advice for new artists. “Align yourself with the right people and always believe in your work, no matter what. There will always be naysayers. It’s about passion and opportunity colliding. Keep doing your art, no matter what.”