Photography is the art that returns you to a moment gone past. It is the poetry of moments; faded memories washed away by time brought back to your soul through a picture, that little piece of card holding a historic moment so poignant you can almost feel, taste and smell the moment, flooding you with emotions long forgotten. Pictures give you a chance to experience a moment you may have missed or not regarded. When life happens, we move on without much thought, sometimes failing to stop and taking in the moments. Photography is one of the most important mediums. It is an art, so it requires creativity.
The art of photography is one that requires patience and having a good eye. Ruzica Puskas-Ragontse is an incredibly talented professional photographer based in Baltimore, Maryland. She was born and raised in Lobatse, Botswana to a Motswana mother and a Croatian father. She became obsessed with photography at a very young age where she would browse old family photo albums for hours on end, and spend more time watching her father develop film in his make-shift darkroom that happened to be the garage. She fell in love with the art, but she never imagined that one day she would be a photographer. Today she does not leave the house without a camera, the number one rule of a photographer. Her talent allows her to explore most types of photography. She started out doing wedding photography before she introduced glamour shoots. Her work has been published in international fashion magazines, namely; Zink Magazine, Vogue Italia website, Uptempo magazine, Ellements magazine, L'Officiel Australia, Portafolio magazine, TAP Magazine, and a Timesquare Billboard in New York City, to name a few. She has also been featured in NBC News DC and The Washington Post.
Ruzica Puskas Ragontse was nominated for Fashion Awards MD Best Fashion Photographer 2012 and 2013 and was featured on several fashion blogs. She is the recipient of Bride's Choice Awards for 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Below is a slideshow of her past work. Double click on the picture to see it in full.
Ruzica went to University in Los Angeles, California US to study Communications Art. A year later she moved to Connecticut to complete her Bachelor's Degree at Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford. Not long after graduating she married her high school sweetheart, Lefika Ragontse, and together they have three beautiful children, Lerato (18), Lilly (14), and Alex (8).
Ruzica recently teamed up with her daughter, Lerato, in Portrait of A Dancer, a photo series she created to inspire dancers of colour. Lerato is a classically trained dancer currently training at NYU Tisch in NYC, beginning this fall. She has been dancing competitively during her school years. Together with her mother, they created the dance photo series Portrait of a Dancer, and the series is published to Ruzica's website and social media platforms. To see more pictures of the series click on the link.
These are some of the images below;
Question & Answer with Ruzica
Tell us about the Portrait of A Dancer photo series, what was the inspiration behind it?
I wanted to tell the story of my daughter; a brown, classically-trained dancer, in a space where most dancers may not look like her, as beautiful, strong, and elegant. She is Motswana, Croatian, and American; diverse in culture and upbringing, but the world may see her through a very simplified lens, they may see her only as a brown dancer. It's so rewarding to inspire others to be true to oneself and to also follow your dreams fearlessly. Training at a pre-professional dance studio really left her with no time to do much else, and so these sessions were a way for us to both do what we love and spend time together!
How was it working with your daughter on this series, and what did you learn from the experience?
Speaking of fearlessly, our sessions are quick and specific. We often discuss a location we have been meaning to try and if we are travelling we explore the location whether its a hike to a cliff or a quick drive to a fun spot. She knows her body really well and is a stickler for the tiny but important details; such as her turnout. I then focus more on her emotional connection or the composition in the frame. So we feed off of each other. I shoot fast and we are usually done in 15 minutes or less. She knows what she likes and I love that she trusts me.
Ok, now more general questions. Where do you get inspiration for your photography?
I've always loved photographs, I would spend hours just gazing at them. There is something incredible about capturing a moment that can never be repeated, its a special thing. Inspiration is drawn from anywhere; colour, a shape, a shadow. I tend to frame things in my mind as I would in camera. I am more artistic than technical.
Is there something you want to learn or be better at?
I am self-taught, so a lot of my photographic experiences have been hands-on. If I had to pick an area that I would like to improve on, it would be to be more technical without losing the artistic flair, which makes a good balance for a great picture. I am sure this is true for most photographers because if you aren't learning and sometimes failing, you aren't growing at all. That's an area I would like to improve on.
Among your works, which one is your favourite, and why?
My favourite series is Portrait of a dancer. A lot of the pieces we shot were done on our many travels when my daughter was dancing competitively.
What is your type of photography and which is your favorite subject to photograph?
I shoot mostly eCommerce/product and commercial work for businesses. I started as a wedding photographer and evolved into commercial work. But I have a passion for dance and editorial photography. I also absolutely love photographing black women! Being part African myself, I have always had the passion to capture women of color in a way that celebrates our beauty, uniqueness, and strength.
Who's work has influenced you most?
I have always admired Patrick Demarchelier. His work is just so classically timeless. I also love Desiree Mattsson for her use of light and shadows to shape faces in her fashion/editorials. For the use of photography and mixed media collages, I adore Nigerian artist Alexis Tsegba. Her work is surreal! It is colorful and Afrocentric, a celebration of the African experience.
How would you describe your photography style?
I would say my style is clean, positive, and classic. It shows women in a positive and empowering light.
What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer?
Its cliche perhaps, but creating work that is thought-provoking connects with the audience on some level, to eventually produce work that changes some preconceived implicit biases that we all have. That is the most rewarding thing about my art.
What challenges do you wish to change for the next generation?
I would say to the younger generation; be fearless, do not be scared to dream big. Even if no one believes it is achievable don't doubt your own abilities, and be willing to fail. Take massive leaps of faith and know that anything great takes time.
What do you feel most grateful about in your life?
I am grateful for my family and the ability to do what I love, but at the same time plan around my children so that I am there for them 100%.
Ok, back to Portrait of A Dancer. Is the series for sale, and in what format?
I just launched my new site with a link to the series. The goal is to eventually publish a book. We will be selling prints, postcards on the website soon!
One last thing; Give us two random facts about you
I LOVE to bake! I'm almost obsessed. The alchemy of baking is such a fun challenge. Tennis is my sport and I played competitively in high school. I was that nerdy athlete that read the dictionary and played sport.