Tomas Ramos gives new meaning to the idea of getting lost. Usually, getting lost is unintentional. But at Tomas Ramos Photographers, based in Houston, Texas, they make a day of getting lost—exploring, experiencing, and having a great time with their clients.
"When you leave your own town, the images are totally different," says Ramos. "The couple lets go and acts more naturally. And there is a bond that forms with us during our adventure."
Ramos doesn't just mean leaving the town or city. He flies to other states and even internationally for engagement shots, weddings, and family portraits.
"We get in the car and travel, and if we see something interesting, we stop. It's very impromptu. We take no more than three minutes per location. We stop for a margarita or a glass of wine and just have fun. For example, we'll fly to Cancun, Mexico, and have a blast because it's like taking a vacation. The clients will always remember the great time they had with you."
Times have certainly changed, says Ramos, and that is one reason he can do this now. "Twenty years ago, if I had said, 'Let's go to Seattle for a weekend,' the client would've looked at me like I was crazy. But today, many couples are up for anything and destination shoots have become so popular."
Off He Goes
Ramos knows his way around, that's for sure. He has photographed in 22 countries and has several more locations lined up this year, including Cairo, Egypt; Beijing, China; and Peru. Beijing should be fun, he muses, since the photographer is six feet, four inches tall.
"It's so interesting going to other places and seeing other cultures," he says. "They treat you so well. The mothers always want to feed you and the men always want to take you for a drink. It is very important to be open-minded and study the culture of the country you are visiting."
Besides shooting in different areas, Ramos' awareness of other places developed through his hobby: flying. A die-hard aviation aficionado, he has been a pilot for 22 years and calls it the most pleasant and extraordinary experience. "I like to experience what is out there and live life to its fullest."
After seeing his on-location work and discussing ideas with Ramos, many of his brides who live in Houston change their plans to a destination wedding. "We help them in the location and surrounding area and they trust us because of our experience with this."
Ramos communicates with his brides via phone and email. "One question couples ask that I don't really understand is 'Have you ever photographed in this place before?' That's like asking a golf player in the Masters Tournament if he's ever golfed in Georgia before. You are hiring me for the way I interpret, how I see things, my vision. That's the hard part. The technical part of photography is easy to learn; how to charm people and still enjoy yourself—that's the key."
Someone is always watching you at weddings, Ramos reminds us. That's why it's important to watch how you conduct yourself: how you dress, how passionate you are about your work, and if you appear to be having fun. "If you don't market yourself as high-end, they won't see you as a high-end photographer."
Another FAQ Ramos gets from clients is "What kind of equipment do you use?" "That's like saying if I have a $1,000 tennis racket and I'm playing Andre Agassi, who has a $50 racket, I should win. That's not the case. It's not what you use; it's how you use it."
His equipment needs to be fast, compact, and portable. "I need the fastest camera because I appreciate my customers' time. Also, I look for something they are about to do, but don't know it."
The Nikon D2 H system is extremely versatile and works so well for Ramos that he can shoot over 3,000 images on one battery. With his Lexar 4GB cards, he doesn't have to worry about running out. He doesn't use flash or bounce cards on a portrait session because it would kill the moment and the feel. "It's hard to get romantic with all that in your face."