Sustainability as a photographer: the international journey of Ramona Razaghmanesh
Meet Ramona: Berlin-based photographer with a keen passion for sustainability, she shared with us her very interesting yet atypical story about how she got interested in sustainable fashion and how that connects with her work.
Creativity and sustainability are a beautiful mix that move us. We met with Ramona to discover more about her sustainability journey and how she incorporated it in her work as a photographer.
We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are
Ramona’s passion for creativity started when she was younger: “I always loved art, and I always tried to make something out of it even when I felt I was not particularly gifted.”
In fact, she discovered about her talent and interest in photography only during her university years, as she studied Communications and Design, a field which made her realize about the versatility of this tool and how it can be used to explore the reality beyond the lenses.
“What I love the most about it is that you can really step into other people’s private universes while still maintain an outsider’s perspective. The type of camera you use doesn’t matter much; it’s more about your vision and the feelings you manage to convey with one shot”
That strong connection with nature
In 2017, Ramona decided to dedicate her graduation project to exploring the rural lives of the Qashqai, a Turkish speaking nomadic tribe that has lived in Iran for over 700 years.
“I’ve always been interested in the lives of indigenous people and their pure connection with nature. However, I didn’t really know how to get in touch with them and document their relationship with their traditions and the land. However, after some time I was lucky enough to know someone within my family acquaintances that had a connection with the Qashqai nomads, so I left for Iran and spent around seven weeks there.”
During the time she spent in Iran, she learnt a lot about the local’s culture, and especially about their traditions and their deep connection with the space they inhabit.
“Something that really caught my attention was the way they somehow knew everything about it: they were able to tell if it was going to rain or when the sun was going to rise way before I could… I was so impressed and fascinated with the knowledge they passed from generation to generation about nature, and it made me think a lot about the differences between leading a nomadic/rural life and an urban one, which sometimes can make us feel very much disconnected from nature and our surroundings”.
I saw “fashion” respecting nature’s boundaries
Ramona was particularly impressed by the way the Qashqai manage to lead a very sustainable life:
“They are very hard-working people and produce everything on their own, from food to furniture – for example, the beautiful carpets you can see in the picture below – from jewelry to clothes. I remember distinctly how, during a very traditional wedding I was invited to, the bride was wearing a sort of beautiful flower which was made of wood. I was so impressed by it and by the way these people not only truly loved and respected nature, but also were able to make ornaments so refined out of something so simple”.
The same goes with clothes, which are not minimal at all – when you look at Ramona’s beautiful pictures you can really perceive the vibrant colors and the textures of the different materials – but they are nonetheless extremely minimal in the way in which they are used.
“The Qashqai don’t own more than what they need, and it’s really important to them not to ask too much from nature’s resources. When they need, they take from it, but at the same time they show their gratefulness by making the most out of it – both by using their clothes until they are unwearable and, when that happens, by recycling them into towels. Besides, when these cloths are unusable, they tend to burn them in order not to leave waste around.”
It completely changed my perspective
Even though she had always been interested in sustainability since an early age, Ramona’s experience in Iran really changed her perspective: “It really opened my eyes about fashion consumption – I love fashion, but now I tend to ask myself: do I really need this? And is it made sustainably?”.
Besides, in 2020 she had the opportunity to collaborate with a fashion university where students were upcycling old curtains and other textile waste and turned them into a collection. As you may have noticed, at Renoon we are obsessed with upcycling (at its peak on our Trashion Thursdays on IG), so of course we loved how her personal and atypical experience brought her there.
When we asked Ramona what her plans for the next future are, she said “I’d really love to work with fashion or product brands that make sustainability their philosophy and are transparent about it. The smallest the brand is, the better: I love to get to know the faces behind it and be given the opportunity to really document their sustainable journey, since we all know that it’s more important that each and every one of us makes a small step towards change rather that obsessing over perfectionism”.
Continue following Ramona Razaghmanesh’s adventures at www.ramonarazaghmanesh.com
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