James Yeramian, the Man Who Breathes Life into His Subjects

In Art, Being Gay on January 10, 2009 at 1:08 am


James Yeramian, a photographer, is truly a translator of sorts; he takes an ordinary, everyday image and gives it a soul – a purpose, if you will. Equal4all is proud to introduce that man…

.First and foremost, did aspiring to be a photographer ever cross your mind as you were growing up and going through the motions of finding yourself?

J: Not photography in particular, no. I knew I had a different vision of how I viewed the world, which was rarely cohesive with group mentality – I knew I had creative intuition. Growing up, I found myself gravitating toward other creative minds, and living vicariously through other’s work that I admired – finding my own outlet came much later. Being an Armenian-American, “art” was never encouraged as a child – the stereotypical lifestyle that was associated with being an “artist,” and the impracticality of basing a career on any sort of artistry was a great obstacle. Oddly enough, there were successful artists in my ancestry though, that may have worked against me.  For this reason, finding photography, in particular, was rather organic – without any outside influence or intervention. Once I discovered it, I knew it was part of my fiber, and moreover, it became a way for me to communicate.

.How do you think people are affected by your work? Do you want your pieces to come off a certain way or is it up to the viewer to come up with their own conclusions?

J: It really depends on the subject of the photograph and whoever is viewing it. If I’m fully cognizant, my main objective is to present the mundane in a new and enticing way. More often than not, my work is instinctual and tends to fall into the aforementioned category on its own. When someone is viewing one of my photographs, I hope that it makes them think and question the way they view the world. My work is not for everyone, though, and probably only pertains to the analytical mind. I definitely don’t want to tell people how to think through my photography; I want them to think for themselves and open up and expand their thought process.  Therefore, the greatest satisfaction for me is to hear the viewers own interpretation, whether or not it falls in line with my own. Sometimes they just completely get it, and sometimes they don’t – but the photograph served its purpose either way.

.Is what you produce ultimately an extension of yourself? Do you put your “all” into your photography?

J: It is absolutely an extension of “me” – it’s the only place where I can be truly free. As they say, “a picture speaks a thousand words.” I have yet to find a more effective way of communicating than through my work.  I do always put my “all” into my work, but not necessarily in the strictest sense of the term. Much of my work is instinctual, and I’m not always aware of what’s going to happen – or I don’t necessarily plan things out meticulously. Sometimes the photos just come. I guess my photographs would best be defined as documentary photography. To quote Elizabeth McCausland, documentary photography “…represents strong organic forces at work, strong creative impulses seeking an outlet suitable to the serious and tense spirit of our age.” She says it way better than I ever could!


.How do you feel that gay photographer’s experiences may differ from let’s say, an Annie Leibovitz? Do you feel that it would be hard out there for a homosexual artist to make it in the world of photography?

J: If one of your readers decided to pursue photography, I think they would find many gay photographers to take inspiration from, namely Herb Ritts, Robert Mappelthorpe, and the amazing and totally inspiring, Nan Goldin. I think their successes speak for themselves. I don’t believe that one’s sexuality, though, has any bearing on talent and the ability to relate to people through their work. That being said, I ran across Annie Leibovitz once during a shoot she was doing with Brooke Shields. Are you sure she doesn’t swing your way?!

.To this day, who or what has been your favorite subject matter and why? Have you photographed anyone famous?

J: I can’t really say that I have one particular favorite subject matter, but more and more as of late, I’ve been intrigued by photographing humans, and faces – the nuances of the expressions, the wrinkles, the folds of their skin. I never want to take a posed photograph; I want to remember what that person was thinking or feeling at that exact moment in time – that one fleeting second. I find that so profound. I’ve photographed, as you know, Norman Korpi, from the first season of MTV’s The Real World; Kristin Hersh of the seminal rock-groups Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave, and of solo fame (www.kristinhersh.com); Karin Berquist and Linford Detweiler of the band Over the Rhine (www.overtherhine.com); Neil Halstead of solo fame, Mojave 3 and Slowdive; and Cyndi Lauper.  All of these artists have inspired me in some way.


.Is your photography self-fulfilling and satisfying to you – or have you ever thought about going down a different career path?

J: Photography for me is not a career. Whether or not I make money off of it is irrelevant. Of course, there is a special sort of gratification that comes with selling a piece, but the actual sale of my photos does not in any way determine whether or not I continue to take photographs. I take them because I have an urgent need to, which nothing else seems to satiate.

.Please give our readers a little bit of an inclination as to how you realized that you truly made it as an artist:

J: I would first have to define what the definition of “making it” means to me in terms of my photography. For me, I know I’ve made it when the purpose of each individual photograph is realized, when he who has viewed the photograph, has deemed it worthy enough to spend time to view it, and put some thought into what its purpose may be. It’s not about monetary gain, or recognition in the art world.

.Please give advice to anyone who may be struggling with who they truly are:

J: I could give the stock answer of “be true to yourself” and “don’t give a damn what others think,” but the truth of the matter is that we are all on our own path – and part of the meaning of life, as I see it, is the search for oneself – and all of the hardships that go along with that. For me to give advice on this would be hypocritical. If I had all the answers, or any of the answers for that matter, I would cease to exist. So, I guess my advice is: Try not to cease existing. Keep asking questions.

Quick, on your toes…

Blue or red?

Always red.

The ocean or a lake?


Cook or take-out?


Blonds or brunettes?


What kind of car do you drive?

Toyota Solara Convertible; pearly white with a tan top.

Favorite candy bar?

Do granola bars, count?

Favorite website?

Mine. www.jamesjosephimages.com.

( If you would like to find out more about James Yeramian, please click the link above. )

Interview conducted and written by J. Federico

  1. Thank you so much for the various interview with gay artist that have appeared on your site. It is wonderful to see the unique personalities that live within these amazing people. A million thanks, keep them coming.

  2. James is my brother in Art and we’re from the same hood. He not only can take amazing photos but he’s also a poet. I love james!!

  3. I loved what he had to say, so inspiring. Photographers are awesome like that

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