6 Looks, 2 Models: A Beauty Shoot

It started the way many collaborations do; on Instagram! Tamara Melville of T-Amoi Makeup Artistry recently contacted me via Instagram with the idea to do a beauty shoot with some clean, popping looks. She loved the photo set from my shoot with Toni and was interested in collaborating with me. Now, it’s always great when someone loves your work, but it feels even better when it’s someone whose work you also love! I’ve been a fan of her blush looks, and it was a great chance for us to work on a dope project together.

Tamara came up with the concept of doing some clean, dewy looks with smoky, dramatic eyes and bold lips. As she showed me the images from her mood board, I could see the shoot coming together in my mind. Once we got that down, what came next was casting. She suggested Danielle-Kay Northover (repped by Pulse Models) for the looks involving smokey eyes, and the more colourful looks were done with Cleopatra Whyte, also repped by Pulse Models.

With casting done, all that was left to do was prep and shoot. Knowing it was going to be a long day, I reached out to my friend and colleague Jik-Reuben Pringle to assist me with the day’s work. We looked through the mood board to get not just the vibe of the shoot, but to work on how we were going to light it. Being creative and whimsical is great, but it has to intersect with technicality! We used 4 speedlights, 3 softboxes (one on a boom arm) and a 7” zoom reflector for most of the shots throughout the day, with a solid mix of butterfly and loop lighting techniques, and a few in-betweens.

A rough idea of what the setup was like.

Everyone got together at my home studio, and we settled in for a long day of fun shots! The day went incredibly smoothly, with Tamara creating gorgeous looks, DKay and Cleopatra giving us amazing poses and expressions. Shooting went even smoother because I chose to shoot tethered, with the images popping up in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom on a display. This kind of workflow made it easy for the models, the makeup artist and I to see exactly what was happening when the lights went off, and to see if any changes needed to be made (more technical stuff to the rescue).

In the end, we all had a great time and loved the final looks. I’m happy to share the final images with you. Enjoy!

Port Maria to Strawberry Fields

This blog post will have images that are quite different from what you’re used to seeing on my site. As I mentioned in my blog post 2016: A Retrospective, I work in the Photography Department at the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts. During March we had a departmental field trip, during which myself, Photojournalism lecturer Andrew Smith (AKA the man who taught me photography) and the main lecturer for the department Lewis Gibson-Grainger, escorted students from 1st year to 3rd year on a trip along the coast of St. Mary.

Pagee Beach, Port Maria

With our day starting at 5:00 am, we left the college’s campus in Kingston and travelled to Port Maria, our first stop for the day. While the students worked on various things, from photojournalism to environmental portraiture, I decided to work on my landscapes. It’s not a genre I dabble in very often, but given the right circumstances can be incredibly enjoyable. It took me out of my comfort zone, but I was able to capture some wonderful images during our time (mostly at Pagee Beach) and I’m very happy with what I ended the day with. 

Lynne & Nathan-John: Hope Gardens Wedding

In January I had the pleasure of shooting the wedding of Lynne and Nathan-John Webb. It was held on a sunny morning on one of the beautiful lawns at Hope Botanical Gardens in St. Andrew. 

While I hadn’t known them for very long (Nathan-John for about a year and a half, Lynne for a few months) their openness and friendliness made working with them a great experience, and from the moment I learned how they met, I knew the wedding would be a great one. Lynne (who’s from the United Kingdom) and Nathan-John (who’s from Jamaica) had their paths cross while in… Canada! While I definitely won’t get into the details here, it all began from that first meeting.

From the emotion felt during the ceremony, to the stories and dancing at the reception (they’re a fun-loving bunch!) the entire day was an absolute blast. It’s definitely a wedding that you’d want to experience again; luckily the day can be re-lived through the photos below!

Test Shoot with Toni

Last year I contacted a friend of mine from Uni, Toni McLennon, to see whether or not she would be willing to do a test shoot with me. I felt she had a unique look, and I could see myself working with her on a shoot. We took some time to plan a few outfits and the look and vibe we were aiming for, and then set a date. The original date came and went while I kept planning more and more things for the shoot, until I realised one simple thing; I was over-thinking it. I got into my own head and turned it inside out, when the best thing to do was to keep it simple; and that’s exactly what I did. I contacted makeup artist Dominique Mitchell (also known as LadybugMUA) who does excellent work, as well as photographers and colleagues Jik-Reuben Pringle to assist as my lighting technician, and Kid Bazzle to work as my digital technician for the day. 

We had a wonderful day of shooting, and everything went more or less as planned. It was also my first proper attempt at shooting tethered, which was quite the experience. My only gripe is that Lightroom isn’t quite as quick as I would like with importing the images. All in all, we got some great photos, and I’m glad we could all come together to get it done! 

The Piano Tuner

While scouting the School of Music on the campus of the Edna Manley College of The Visual and Performing Arts, I came across a stranger. He was seated in front of the grand piano, on the stage in the Vera Moody Concert Hall. Beside him on a stool were tools, screws, bolts, nuts and other bits and ends. The piano lid raised, his hands moved across the hammers, tweaking, tuning, deftly working within the 9-foot Steinway grand piano with 12,000 moving parts. 

Something about it caught my eye, and I asked him if I could take some photos of him while he worked; he obliged. I sized him up, and carefully took a few shots. He was happy to see them afterward, and he introduced himself to me; Johnny O’Brien, a piano tuner. I noted that he had an accent, but I didn’t have the time to have a conversation with him. I said goodbye and made my way to the exit.

It wasn’t until much later that I realised he was far more than; he was a renowned piano tuner, restorer and a skilled jazz pianist from New Orleans. He first came to Jamaica in 1981 with his grandfather (who was Jamaican born) and fell in love with the island; after living here for over a decade, he has travelled here frequently for work. Hopefully we’ll cross paths again, because I would absolutely love to shoot some portraits of this very interesting man.

On Assignment: Trench Town Rock

On Saturday, the 11th of May, I got an unexpected assignment that would lead me to the birthplace of reggae music; Trench Town. 

I was sent to cover Trench Town Rock, an annual concert put on by the family of Bob Marley to celebrate not just him, but the music that he and other pioneers helped to birth, in the same place where he grew up. The evening started with performers within the community,  giving a platform to various artistes and musicians.

Further into the evening,  the main show started and the crowd grew.  The night was filled with powerful performances from current and sure-to-be future legends of the industry, from Capleton,  Junior Reid and Bounty Killer,  to Assassin, Christopher Martin and Kabaka Pyramid. The night was capped off with electrifying songs from Stephen,  Julian,  and Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley,  with Stephen bringing Popcaan onstage for a guest verse.  It was a successful night of shooting and I’ve put my favourite images from the night below. For higher resolution versions,  just click here.  Enjoy!

Hilfiger Island: BTS on Tommy Hilfiger Eyewear Campaign

In my 2016 Retrospective blog post, I mentioned working on a Tommy Hilfiger campaign. A few folks have asked about it, so I thought it was time to lay it all out!

Folks were curious!

In February of 2016, I got an email from Tessie Pessers of Influencer Marketing Agency (IMA), the leading digital influencer marketing agency based in the Netherlands. After searching the internet for Jamaican-based photographers, she came across my Instagram page. She was seeking a photography assistant and digital operator for a fashion photography production in Montego Bay. I later learned it was a Tommy Hilfiger campaign called Hilfiger Island, showcasing their new eyewear collection. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to work with a crew from Europe, as in this day and age networking is more important than ever.

After agreeing on cost and conversing with the IMA team via email, I made the journey to Montego Bay to meet them in person. We were split into two crews, and I ended up working with filmmaker Marlon Gervacio, and photographer Dennis Swiatkowski, two immensely talented creatives. I also worked primarily with online influencers, models and bloggers Linda Tol and Leonie Hanne, as well as Michelle Salas and Miguel Carrizo.

The two days spent with this team were pretty invigorating, as we worked with models from across Europe, shared conversations about our respective cultures and customs, and generally had an amazing time. Between takes and during times when I could grab my camera, I took as many behind-the-scenes images as I could to document the production, and below you’ll find some of my favourites. To see the finished product, your can head to Hilfiger Island to see the culmination of beautiful images and footage, shot at Silent Waters in the hills of Montego Bay and the Half Moon Shopping Village.

Jodi & Jordan: Alhambra Inn Wedding

Jodi and Jordan may look familiar to those of you familiar with my site; they’re two members of the rock band The Sky Is Broken, who I shoot from time to time! 

Their wedding was held on a gorgeous afternoon at the Alhambra Inn; a beautiful place nestled away in Kingston with a very rustic vibe. It was a small, intimate ceremony with family and close friends, but what made the wedding truly beautiful was the way everyone came together to pull everything together, the decor being handmade by family adding a very personal touch to the entire day. From the minute Jodi walked down the aisle with her mother to meet Jordan, you could see the anticipation and excitement in her eyes, the emotion as they held hands and walked to the priest. 

The ceremony was short, beautiful and emotional for everyone involved, and I’m honoured to have been chosen to document their nuptials. Below you’ll find some of the highlights from the day, from getting ready to the first dance. Check them out below!

2016: A Retrospective

As the title suggests, I’m here to talk about the year that was 2016. What a wild ride that was, huh? As a lot of us know, it’s been a hard time for the world on a whole; politics, the environment, the world of entertainment. A lot of things seemed to be topsy turvy, but thankfully my 2016 was actually quite good.

Marginally related photo!

Quite a few things happened for me this year. A few people might know this, but I work in the Photography Department at the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts (“the only one of its kind in the English speaking Caribbean!” as we’re so often reminded). Through working there with students and lecturers alike of various artistic backgrounds, I can definitely say I’ve learned quite a bit.

A key person I’m happy to have met is legendary Jamaican photographer Donnette Zacca, who had been head of the department for decades. Watching her teach, seeing how she interacts with students and staff alike, and getting the chance to dissect her work is something I’ll always be grateful for. She has since retired from the college to teach privately, and my only regret is that I never did a portrait session with her. She’s a powerful, energetic woman, and I would’ve loved to photograph her in the department she spent decades building.

Decidedly not Zacca. Pierre Lemaire, Director of the School of Drama at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. A photo I took while assisting a student with portrait lighting.

Working at the college helped me to look at my own work from a new perspective, and informed how I approach it moving forward. In addition to this, as of this past September I’ve been a lecturer as a part of the college’s School of Continuing Education (teaching photography, of course). Those who know me  well know that I have a passion for teaching photography, and I can confidently say that my first semester was a success, and I’m proud of my students.

Even fewer people may know this, but on top of all of this, I also started working as a freelance photojournalist for The Gleaner Company (yes, that’s the newspaper I’ve referred to in previous posts). I was trained in photojournalism while studying in University, and it’s been quite the experience! I’ve met many people, and I do believe working with them had helped to strengthen my skills. I even got a photo on the cover, once! While not a ‘breathtaking’ image, in journalism, timeliness is key; it was taken at the Jamaican premiere of I Am Bolt

This… this is a terrible scan from my cellphone.

Not the exact photo (which is strangely missing). Usain Bolt and his lovely mum.

“Darien, this post is long. SHOW ME SOME PHOTOS

We’re getting to that!

A few other things happened last year that made me feel pretty good as a businessman; getting inquiries from international clients! It might not seem like much, but it means I’m doing something right.

One of the highlights of that particular experience was working on a two-day production for Tommy Hilfiger(!) as a camera assist, working with an amazing team from the Netherlands, but that’s an entire blog post on its own, which is definitely coming soon.

A great team!

A random shot of a model!

A lot of 2016 was about growth, not just as a photographer, but as an entrepreneur, for which I have to thank Format for those guides they’ve been releasing! You can find them here.

Now, I can’t possibly go through every image I’ve shot this past year, but I will put just a few of my favourites below. 

On Assignment: Smile Jamaica

On the 3rd of December I was contacted by the local paper I work with to provide coverage for Smile Jamaica; a concert that was held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Bob Marley’s legendary 1976 concert of the same name. Held at the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road, the venue was crammed with locals and tourists alike paying homage to the late great Robert Nesta Marley. 

Covering an event while on assignment is quite different from covering it for my own purposes. I don’t have the same level of immersion as I shoot for what works best for print in a newspaper, which might not work as well for artistic purposes; nevertheless, I still aim for excellent images.

This concert was powerful, not just performance-wise, but also because of the narrative that was put together by the MCs between performances, dramatically recounting the events leading up to the original Smile Jamaica concert; from Marley being shot, to his unexpected appearance onstage.

I’m sharing some of my personal favourites from the night. Hopefully, my images can convey the aesthetic, mood and emotion of what was a wonderful night of music. Stay blessed

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