Ron James

Ron James

1937 - 2013

After his first one-man show in 1967 at Leitz Gallery in New York, Ron James became inspired by Minor White and Wynn Bullock, and moving west, settled in California where he pur...

Ron James


Ron James began photographing in 1949 with his mother's box camera at age twelve. After an invitation to observe his Michigan hometown's photofinisher in the darkroom, he became intrigued with the unique visual possiblities of the photographic medium. That year he requested a camera for Christmas and promptly made a darkroom in his bedroom closet. Eventually he designed and built a darkroom in the family basement and later remembered, "I lived there."

During high school, James began photographing people with a 35 mm camera inspired by The Family of Man and a war correspondent named Ernie Pyle, whose book Home Country particularly resonated with him. After graduating from Michigan State University in 1961, James began winning honors in photojournalism, including a contest sponsored by LIFE magazine which eventually took him to New York. After his first one-man exhibitions at Leitz Gallery in Manhattan and the University of Miami in 1967 featuring photographs made during a road trip around America, James relocated to California and settled in Monterey. He taught photography at Monterey Peninsula College from 1969 to 1989, where along with his colleague Henry Gilpin, he was a beloved teacher who inspired countless students.

Psychology courses during college challenged James to contemplate the nature of human perception. He became particularly interested in exploring how the way we learn to see is impacted by the source of light. He also explored time lapse photography and investigated the time/space concepts voiced by West Coast masters Minor White and Wynn Bullock in his own personal photography.

Photographs by Ron James are vintage prints, made in editions of less than five. Many are unique and all of them were hand printed by the artist before 1989.

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