By Jim Hornsby
Kay Ramming’s photography was recently shown at Provence Bakery in Hillsboro Village, and the combination of tasty French pastries and Kay’s street scenes in Paris was like a mini-tour of the city itself. Kay has a keen eye for subject matter and composition, and there is a special glow to her work, a vintage quality that suggests Paris as it might have looked when Hemingway and Picasso strolled along those very streets. I wanted to know more, so I met Kay at Provence to talk.
J: How did you become a photographer?
K: I discovered photography while attending the University of Wisconsin. I tried a number of different art courses, but I got the most pleasure and fulfillment from photography.
J: Do you have any other hobbies?
K: Gardening. I am a Certified Master Gardener in the State of Washington. I haven’t gone through the process for certification in Tennessee because photography takes up so much of my time, but I work at Cheekwood, so I have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful gardens there.
J: What is it about photography that holds your interest?
K: In addition to the adventure of capturing the images, I enjoy darkroom work. Developing prints from film negatives is especially rewarding as its own art form. I can remember the thrill I got the first time I saw one of my images appear on blank paper, and I still get that thrill today. Once I discovered Lith printing I was really hooked on film.
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Photos by Kay Ramming
K: Lith printing is a unique darkroom developing process; it is more complex and time consuming than ordinary developing and allows for more individualized results. In Lith, the negative is typically over-exposed and the image is brought out gradually in a diluted developing solution. The resulting print has a warm-toned “old fashion” look; grainy with high contrast. I can vary the amount of time I expose the paper and the time it bathes in the developer, so each print becomes an individual work of art.
J: What kind of cameras do you use?
K: My favorite is a 35mm Nikon that I have used for many years, but I also have a cheap plastic Holga camera that I use when I am feeling especially adventuresome. The Holga is a very basic way to expose film, and I like the experimental quality of the results.
J: Digital photography being such a dominant format today, is it difficult to get film and supplies?
K: Finding film and supplies isn’t as convenient as it used to be, but they are still available. The variety is better by mail order, so I usually get mine from Los Angeles. Finding a good film processer is more difficult. I send my exposed film away to Seattle to have the negatives processed. Film photography is considered an “alternative” process these days, but there are quite a few of us around, so the few places that still work with film do a pretty good business.
J: What is it about Paris that inspires your photography?
K: I love Paris, and a photographer couldn’t ask for a more beautiful subject. I’ve been there twice and I hope to go back in the spring. I have traveled to England, Germany and Switzerland, and I have a number of photographs from those places, but I am hooked on France; my photo collection of the sights there keeps on growing. I like street photography, everyday people and scenes that catch my interest, and Paris provides a new delight around every corner.