Ronnie James is rapidly developing into one of the brightest new lights in the art form of jazz photography. Long the province of such acknowledged masters and keen photographic eyes as William Claxton, William Gottlieb, Milt Hinton, Robert Parent, and Chuck Stewart, the inventiveness of capturing the vivid images of jazz musicians on and off the bandstand in particular, and the jazz scene in general, has in recent years become a fully-recognized extension art form of jazz music. Ronnie James joins a class of emerging young contributors to the discipline of accurately and artfully capturing jazz moments in time through his photographic lens.

A native of New York, Ronnie James settled in the Washington, DC area following an Air Force career. He purchased his first camera in 1976 and his initial work centered around scenes encountered while on overseas tour of duty. As a "frustrated musician" himself, having early on endeavored on the bass guitar and drums, by 1980 James had become fascinated with the possibilities of capturing jazz musicians. "I brought my K-1000 to an Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson gig in Phoenix. The multi-colored tungsten lights were overbearing on the daylight balanced film, but I was pretty proud of those pictures." Thus began his jazz photographic odyssey.

Ronnie further raised the stakes in the mid-1980s . While on duty in England, he enrolled in a photography course and began shooting London's many jazz concerts in earnest. By the early 1990s, the jazz photography passion was deeply engrained and James went about the business of establishing a professional profile for himself. His first stop was jazz periodicals, including Jazziz and Down Beat magazines. He has become a regular contributor to Jazz Times magazine. Among other regular clients are the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, with a particular emphasis on their annual competitions, Capital Jazz Productions (producer of the annual Capital Jazz Festival), and the annual East Coast Jazz Festival. Shooting jazz festivals has become one of Ronnie's particular specialties. His photography has graced several CD covers and a number of his photographs have been purchased to accompany prominent jazz artist web sites. Additionally James has exhibited his compositions around the Washington, DC area.

To accompany his exceptional photography, James has also begun a series of audio chronicles of the lives of the many jazz musicians he encounters. "I really enjoy being around the musicians both on and off stage. It's great talking with them not only about their music, but about life, getting to know them on a personal level. I enjoy their reaction when I show them a photo I've taken of them that they appreciate. These artists still get a kick out of seeing themselves in photos, some even after having been photographed for 30 years or longer!" -- Willard Jenkins

(C)1996-2001 Ronnie James. All Rights Reserved.


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