Author of the article: Jennifer Cox
Publishing date: March 3, 2023
Photos by: Ron Gesser
What started as a hobby at a young age has slowly developed into a true passion project for 65-year-old Ron Gesser of Westmount. An investment advisor by profession, Gesser said his penchant for photography began with traveling as a pre-teen.
“I was very lucky. I started traveling overseas in the ‘1960s when not many people were,” he explained in a recent phone interview. “My father had to work over seas for the summer, and I ended up spending a few summers in Israel, but we also got to visit places like Paris, London, Athens, and Copenhagen. At 11, I already had a camera and by the time I was in my 30s and 40s, I had an SLR film interchangeable lens camera. Then, when I turned 50, I saw this TV show on Machu Picchu and I said to my wife, ‘Let’s do something different on vacation’. This became our first adventure travel destination. I bought my first digital SLR and we went to Peru.”
From then on, he and his wife, Sharlene Young, decided to go to more exotic, out-of-the-way destinations and over the years they have focused on finding places that are interesting, less traveled, and not often photographed. Their travels took them to India four times, Myanmar, Vietnam, China, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Argentina, to name just a few, and they just got back from a trip to West Africa.
“This was a very different, unusual, and challenging trip,” Gesser said. “It’s very hot there, like 96 degrees every day, and it’s still quite underdeveloped so the infrastructure and hotels are very basic. When we travel, we get to see interesting cultures and people, and learn about different areas of the world, which really interests me. And that’s the kind of photography I do — more off-the-beaten-track, unusual, and interesting photography.
“I really want to share our experiences, and I enjoy showing other people and places. That’s the motivating factor — trying to capture an interesting moment and something unique that has a candid focus or effect to it. I want to portray people as human beings who have different cultures. And I try my best to show people in a good light.”
Over COVID, because travel allowances were very limited, Gesser paused on combing the globe and focused more on the many photography contests that were out there. He entered a photo he had taken in Central India into the World Photography Cup for Natural Portrait photography. His shot of an indigenous woman from the Kutia Kondh indigenous group made it to the top 10 submissions, which he said was pleasantly surprising. There will be a presentation in Singapore on March 17 that will reveal the order of the 10 finalists.
“Competitions and judging are so subjective, and you have no idea how judges will perceive things and what goes through their minds,” he explained. “Each organization or association looks for different types of photography, and for this particular competition, the vast majority of submissions are studio photos. My photography is out in the field with natural light and it’s not conceived or setup, whereas these photos are in a more controlled environment, so it was really interesting that I made it this far.”
“I want to portray people as human beings who have different cultures. And I try my best to show people in a good light.”
When we travel, we get to see interesting cultures and people, and learn about different areas of the world, which really interests me. And that’s the kind of photography I do — more off-the-beaten-track, unusual, and interesting photography like this one of an indigenous woman from the Kutia Kondh indigenous group.