So I know what you’re thinking. If you’re a child of the 80’s like myself you are wondering if I photographed Sylvester Stalone as the troubled Vietnam Veteran that was John Rambo in the Rambo film series. Let me clear that up by saying absolutely not. That would have been cool, but this story is much more interesting in my opinion.
I photographed a remarkable man named Ron Rambo for a story in USGBC Magazine. Besides having a wicked cool name, Ron is a wonderful man. I rarely say that about someone I have only spent a few hours with, but Ron left an impression on me. He has what I can only describe as “good vibes” and it’s apparent by the people he surrounds himself with.
Ron was born with cerebral palsy which limits his speech and body movements. He uses a wheelchair and has 2 aides that help him around the clock. He faces mobility challenges on a daily basis, including moving about in his own home. He is an advocate for the disabled community and is well known in the city of Lancaster, PA. Ron had an idea to create a totally independent and fully accessible home on a piece of property owned by his mother in Lancaster. He nicknamed the project “Ramboland” and it has since attracted the attention of Jesse Pellman of Longview Structures and Max Zahniser of Praxis Building Solutions. His project has also gained the support of Mayor Richard Gray of Lancaster.
I had the opportunity to meet and photograph all of these people on a mild February day in Lancaster. I love shooting these kinds of stories because I get to meet amazing people and learn about inspiring projects. Ramboland is in the planning stages, but this home will be cutting edge in every way. Not only will it be fully accessible for Ron, but it will also be totally energy and water independent. This is why the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) sent me to photograph this project.
The scheduling for this shoot was challenging because I was trying to coordinate with so many people for one day of shooting. All were very accommodating and I was able to shoot this story over the course of a few hours starting with the Mayor. I photographed the Mayor in his office and then met with Jesse Pellman at the building site. After photographing Jesse I met with Max Zahniser who was traveling from Philadelphia at a coffee shop where Ron hangs out on a regular basis. I photographed Max in the back courtyard and when Ron arrived I photographed the two of them together. Once Max hit the road I had some time to get to know Ron. We spent a few hours at the coffee shop and around the streets of Lancaster.
Making portraits of people can be such a daunting challenge if you let it. It’s difficult to capture a person’s personality in one frame after only spending a few minutes with them. For every assignment I shoot there are different goals with how the images should be used to tell the story. Sometimes I have the freedom to put my own spin on how I feel about a particular topic. Other times I am hired to merely make someone look good on camera. Most of the time, my job is to discover the true essence of the person in front of the lens and to show at least a little bit of that essence on camera.
If you'd like to read the entire story, you can find it online HERE.