Kingston Editorial by Tamu McPherson and Young Local Talents


Kingston Calling

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Tamu McPherson | Wednesday May 30th 2018

Look 1: Krizia blazer,Balenciaga shoes

Look 2: Celine SS15 Dress, Manolo Blahnik sandals (Circa 2005)

Kingston Calling 3Look 3: Attico dress, Manolo Blahnik sandals (Circa 2005)

Look 4: Jacquemus  dress, Manolo Blahnik sandals (Circa 2005)

Look 5: Silvia Tcherassi Top and skirt, Balenciaga sandals

Look 6: Ganni Dress, Etro Sandals

Kingston Calling 10Kingston calling 2Kingston Calling 8

Kingston is always calling. Calling me home. I have so many dazzlingly fond memories of my first home here on Earth. The raw splendor and polarizing energy. All of the beautiful, emotional, life-giving stimuli. It’s magic is intoxicating. But, alas, I fear that I am becoming a queen of nostalgia, and I’ve been seriously contemplating whether I am perpetually stuck in the past. I mean, I could talk about my friend Peta-Gaye and my shenanigans all over Kingston and our passion for dancehall All.Day.Long. I can wax poetic for hours about the concerts, the dances, what we wore and our favorite selectors and sounds: Stone Love, Base Odyssey, King Addies and Renaissance, to name a few. There is nowhere else I wanted to be during my late teens and early 20s.

However, if you asked me about pop culture in Kingston today, I wouldn’t be able to tell you much. This truth is unsettling, a wake up call that prompts me to refocus my vision of my hometown to reflect the current zeitgeist. I never want to turn my back on my past, because it’s what makes me who I am today, but I want move forward and see new realities. I want to reference the richness of my experiences to live in the present and manifest new memories.

Having started my creative career a few years after grad school, I can’t help but wonder about the experience of young creatives in Jamaica today. Like many of my West Indian friends who grew up abroad, our parents, who migrated to the US or UK  to pursue better opportunities, tailored our career paths to professional pursuits like law, medicine and finance. And as is the case with many of us former corporate heads, we responded to our creative callings later in our journey, after living through some of our most important formative years. So, when I started to plan this shoot with my intern Jordan, a native Jamaican currently living in Milan, I was excited about the young talent that he proposed. I was fascinated to see their work style, and since we were shooting on location, how they managed the chaotic Kingstonian atmosphere.

We produced this editorial in April while I was vacationing in Jamaica with my family. I took the day off from lounging at Golden Eye and made the 2 hour drive to Kingston where I spent the entire day being captured by this crew. But in reality, I was the one capturing, learning and savoring their approach to creating fashion images in Kingston in 2018. And I am so grateful. Please meet the team.

Kingston Calling Alexander Wong
Alexander Wong – Photographer

What is the creative mood in Kingston today?
In my relatively short experience of about two or three years in the local creative industry, I would say the general mood can either be one of two things, or a mixture of the two. In most cases, thankfully, there is an open, friendly, laid back, chilled vibe among creatives. Personally, I’ve noticed a slight common theme among the local creatives as of late, including myself, which is along the line of the social challenges that we face today. I believe this is influenced by the uprise in social movements originating from the first world countries.

However, I do feel like there is a high wall that needs to be jumped or even torn down. While everyone knows each other and are willing to collab, for the most part, it is often the same collaborators, which again is okay, that create new work. It is a small pond here. Personally, I would like to see new collaborators, pushing the envelope of what I think is the rather conservative Caribbean art world. I would love to see some work along the lines of Andres Serrano or Phillip Toledano.

As creatives and collaborators, we are usually open to collaborations, especially if we know each other on a personal level. As Jamaica is an island, EVERYBODY knows or knows of EVERYBODY. HOWEVER, with that being said, there can be some hostility towards each other and a sense of selfishness. Which, I mean, is okay. To each his own.

What is it like being a young creative in Kingston?
Being a young creative in Kingston is relatively convenient but also annoying at times. Having the privilege of having Lady Jamaica as my inspiration and canvas is really a gift. I have been fortunate and honoured to be known and even work with some of the most well known Jamaican Creatives, most of which are in Kingston! There been a plethora of great opportunities that I have been afforded through the short years as a creative and I am forever grateful.

What are the benefits?
Jamaica is the benefit. Having an entire country as your “oyster” so to speak is truly incredible. There is always a new experience to encounter. We just have to find it.

Again, I have to say that I have been fortunate enough to be well connected to know the “big people” in the industry. This has allowed me into what people may consider to be some of the “exclusive circles” in Jamaica. Being young and connected has provided me numerous opportunities for work or leisure.

What are the challenges?
Well, as a 19 year old creative, it can be tedious to do business, especially with potential or existing clients knowing my age. I believe they think that since I am still “young and new” that I may not know my worth, especially monetarily. This can especially be seen with corporate entities.

I might say that one of the largest challenges for a young creative may be networking and acknowledgment. Jamaica is a very connection based place. If you do not have a strong network or have any connections in the industry, it may be hard for a creative to breakthrough.

Do young creatives like yourselves uplift and support one another?
Speaking from the digital side of local creatives (I.e. photogs, videographers, graphic designers), I would say we as digital creatives have a very fond, mutual support system. I can say that it has been mostly positive support and input from my creative community.

I have the privilege of working with my brilliant friends like Jonathan and Chantelle. How many other jobs do you really know that have that?

Where are your favorite places to shoot in Jamaica ?
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve found my “favorite” place to shoot. Jamaica still has so many secrets and opportunities to offer me. In time, she will reveal them. However, I have had some great experiences in Treasure Beach (St. Elizabeth), basically anywhere around Downtown Kingston and the Devon House mansion (Kingston).

Who are you favorite Jamaican designers?
I must admit, as a local fashion photographer, I have not paid my due diligence and acquainted myself with the likes of all of the great local designers. I can say though, that I most admire the likes of Keneea Linton-George, Jon Eli DaCosta, Courtney Washington and Annya Dixon

Who are your favorite creators (photographers, MUA, stylists) and why?
In no specific order.
Local-  Wade Rhoden, Adrian McDonald, Tiffany Lue-Yen
International –
Fashion: Steven Klein, Russel James, Kat Irlin, Lindsay Adler
Portriat: Sarah Bahbah
Documentary: Maggie Steber, Arte Wolf, Stephen Dupont
Wedding: Pye Jarsa, Richard Clarke, Cliff Mautner

If I were to stay here and say why I love each of these photographers individually, we’d be here for a while. Let’s just summarize and say that each of these togs have their own unique style. Their imagery tells stories that will last through history. Whether it be a Vogue or National Geographic cover to a dream wedding, these photographers inspire me to be great.

Local- Teeah Anderson, Sue Gregg
Teeah and Sue are both pros in the local industry. They both have the ability to create anything from a natural glam look to an intricate editorial.
International – Mario Dedivanovic, Sir John B
Mario and Sir John both serve some of the worlds most beloved celebs. What’s not to love about their work? They make some of the worlds most influential women look ***Flawless

Local- Kristia Franklin, the late Dexter Pottinger
I have had the privilege to work with both Kristia and Dexter over the few years that I’ve been shooting. They are both brilliant and creative in their own ways.
International- again, I have yet to pay my due diligence to find a favorite.

What is it about Jamaican swagger that is so magical?
This, is something I don’t think I can even begin to express with my vocabulary. As much as we Jamaicans back home complain about Jamaica, deep down, we ALL love our Little Rock. I think everything I have to say would probably be a very cliche and typical answer. But to summarize, I believe that Jamaica and her beautiful people are just so unique and daring, that no other country on this planet can match.

Kingston Calling
Chantellana – MUA
What is the creative mood in Kingston today?
Throughout my short experience of a few months in the local industry, I have experienced a mood which is laid back, kind and extremely friendly. The creatives that I have collaborated with have welcomed me with an open heart, looking beyond my “newbie” status and teaching me the ways of the industry. I have not experienced hostility, but I know it will come as everyone is not the same.

What is it like being a young creative in Kingston?
Being a young creative in Kingston and one who recently started out into the industry, it’s hard to get bookings. I have yet to build my name where someone is able to book me solely based on my work, so I have to wait until my colleagues are ready to collab again or have a client they believe I would create excellent work with. So for me being a young creative who’s just starting out, it’s hard.

What are the benefits?
As a freelance makeup artist, the majority of the work I create are simple and neutral, collaborating with different creatives requires me to step out of my comfort zone and create work that challenges me. This in turn strengthens and grows me as an artist and as a person as it forces me to believe in myself and the work I create.

What are the challenges?
I am student as well as a freelance makeup artist so the challenge I face is that of being available to my clients. My availability is based on two factors; the availability of my parents to drive me to my client, as they are my sole means of transportation, and if my school schedule coordinates with the time my client is requesting. Most times only one factor stands in my way and that is the availability of my parents.

Do young creatives like yourselves uplift and support one another?
Yes, based on my experience I believe so wholeheartedly. The creatives I have worked with believed in me when I doubted myself and pushed me further than I would on my own.

Where are your favorite places to shoot in Jamaica?
I don’t have any favourite places at the moment, I still need to discover Jamaica and all her beauty before I can decide.

Who are you favorite Jamaican designers?
I love the work of Bill Edwards and Ayanna Dixon.

Who are your favorite creators (photographers, Mua, stylists) and why?
Jules Bower is an amazing wedding photographer, he captures the most beautiful moments, his work is simply stunning. My favourite makeup artists are Mali Magic and Mario Dedivanovic. Their work is always spot on, executed perfectly, glowy and just absolutely beautiful.

What is it about Jamaican swagger that is so magical?
I can’t answer this question without sounding cliché, but Jamaica embodies a culture and people that are like no other. We stand out in a crowd and amaze those around us. Our vibe is so different and so unique, I don’t believe any other country can even begin to compare to us.

Kingston Calling Jonathan South

Jonathan South – Photographer, Assistant for this shoot
What is the creative mood in Kingston today?
The creative mood is one that’s diverse and constantly changing; they’re so many things happening at any given time. Whether you’re at an event, fashion, lifestyle or whatever genre of photography you decide to dabble in, there’s something for you. Young creators are excited at every opportunity to prove themselves and the faithful few stalwart creators of old try to provide guidance for them. All in all, the creative mood in our sunshine island is one that is never stagnant and only the most adaptable creatives survive it, but if you do manage to ride the waves, it makes you one of the best at what you do.

What is it like being a young creative in Kingston?
It’s is a mixture of good and bad. The good comes in once you’ve gotten to a certain level where your work starts to be seen constantly and you get approached by the “who’s who” in the industry. This also spins off into meeting other creators who can help to nurture your creative mind and push you competitively. You also get to go to all the nice events and make all those magical moments that all photographers dream of. However, on the flip side, being young creatives we’re often underestimated, and I dare say taken advantage of at some point, because the main thought process is one that “you’re young and you need exposure”.

What are the benefits?
All the people you get to meet, the new experiences you partake in, the places you visit and the look on everyone’s face when you tell them how old you really are.

What are the challenges?
Jamaica is a very “link/connection dependent” society where if you don’t know people, it’s very unlikely that you’ll get to a point where you’ll be taken seriously. Age is also a double edged sword in that no matter how good your work is, you may never be considered for certain jobs because you’re considered to be “young and lacking experience”.

Do young creatives like yourselves uplift and support one another?
I strongly believe in team work and having a support network to help In all aspects of life. Personally, I collaborate with my best friend Alexander Wong all the time and we’re basically a packaged deal wherein if you book one of us you’re likely to see the other one turn up to the shoot. Other than with Alexander, my go to stylist is Kristia Franklin (@tiaclothesgirl) and I resonate with  her unique style and her love for colour compliments my artistic vision allowing us to create very edgy/punchy productions. Additionally, whenever I get the chance I go to little creative events out and about the Kingston area to sit down, have a good time and bounce ideas off other creatives, and I give little tutorial sessions at my old high school for a new wave of young creatives.

Where are your favorite places to shoot in Jamaica?
One of my favorite places to shoot is heavily biased because of Kristia Franklin (stylist) but it’s Downtown Kingston. There’s always some new place to shoot, whether it be an old zinc fence or a massive mural, the results are always exceptional. Portland is another choice location mainly due to the abundance on greenery and water. It encapsulates what Jamaica is; the land of wood and water.

Who are your favorite creators (photographers, MUA, stylists) and why?
Mark Anthony, Tamia Carey, Keneea Linton-Geroge, Paula Hurlock, John Eli-Dacosta, Anna-Lise Guthrie.

Photographer(s): Peter McKinnon, Tiffany Lue-Yen, Wade Rhoden.

MUA(s): Kelly Stephenson, Allen Avendano, Paul  March.

Stylist(s): Kristia Franklin (Tia), Neko Kelly.

I appreciate the aesthetic of these creatives, and I take a lot of creative cues from them. Seeing their work on my timeline always inspires me to create more and to keep moving forward towards the end goal.

What is it about Jamaican swagger that is so magical?
Jamaican style likkle, but it tallawah. I find there’s a broad range of versatility for “Jamaican swagger”.  Jamaica has this special way of captivating you, from the rich culture that exudes from every corner of the island to the beautiful landscapes that mostly go unnoticed by us locals. You can mostly freely express yourself in whatever way you feel. You get to make your own fashion. You get to make your own dances. You get to make your own music. What makes our swagger so magically is that YOU have got the power to make your own UNIQUE swagger.​

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