Fred Ramos

Samundra Raj Ghimire

“The Last Outfit of the Missing” is one of the most “disturbing” photo projects of Salvadoran documentary photographer Fred Ramos. However, I have chosen the “Dark Triangle” to analyze. There are 16 photos published in this series which is published on Ramos’ personal website. The photos were taken since 2014 in various place of Latin American countries including Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala. Ramos is mainly focused on issues of mass migration in Latin America. Although thematically the photos are stories of migration, Ramos has captured multiple layers of the multiple societies. Ramos states the main cause of fleeing people from South American countries are government absences in public’s daily life, corruption, climate changes and poverty which is differently than the narrative that we can hear in America as “gangs are the main problem”. 

Dark Triangle- Fred Ramos

South America is a region which is a home of diverse community of humankind, diverse geography, and species. But in America it is recognized by a single identity, mainly by Spanish language and the facts of colonization and its impacts in the region are often overlooked. Ramos’s photography cannot be detached from this fact. Oppressing to marginalized community by corporate companies or powerful forces remains in South America which seems like a remaining element of colonialism. For example, the picture of the dry river in San Jose, Honduras illustrates how hydroelectricity plant diverted the course of the river making the area dried. In this picture, Ramos has illustrated the issues with contrast technique through green on the right side of the river and dry on the left side. There is a road (a symbol of a development in popular narrative) on the left side, this is a leading line of the photo. The jungle side from the river is green which is less touched by the road infrastructure, therefore, the nature is preserved. The composition of this photo is “classical”, comfortable viewing and subject is stretched up to horizon. But the color of the horizon is cloudy that makes the photo less bright. In fact, majority of Ramos’ photos are brightless and dimmed except 3 photos in this series. For example, lights coming through the roof of migrant shelter in Juchitan, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2018, signing lights by US boarder protection and protest against the government corruption in Guatemala City but the subjects are not overexposed. The dimmed color tone depicts the social climate of the region. Ramos’s subjects are people, survivors, but he is not focused on person’s face directly. He draws a main character in the middle of the frame and places multiple characters on the background which explains the situation. The main character of the photos either masked or covered or non-focused to the camera. For example, the children playing with a red monster mask or group of friends in cemetery or 3 demonstrators making gasoline bombs; these all pictures are focused on people, but they all speak the political disturbance. Child with a monster mask and a lady standing in a high place of cemetery are powerful because of contrast with color and subject interacting with background.


Ramos doesn’t only take photos of live action but also creates with the background and the character. The bullet scar on the Alen Garcia’s back and the violet flowers has the same shape. Bullet connotes negative and flowers symbolizes positive in many arts and literature. This contrast technique is also used in the shadow of police guard standing at the Guatemala parliament during the protest. The shadow of the police on the red wall (background) symbolizes the violenceolence.