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


Portraits for The Sky Is Broken

As seen in my latest post on Instagram and S̶n̶a̶p̶c̶h̶a̶t̶ Instagram Stories on Sunday, I did a fun little shoot with the band The Sky Is Broken. They’re a Jamaican rock band with some great, and unique(!) sounds. I shot portraits of them back in 2014 as a part of my final year project at the University of Technology, Jamaica, and I also did a shoot for their album art for the release of their EP, Tribes. It was a great experience working with them again.

Taffarie, the bassist, contacted me a little while back saying that they had a few ideas in mind for a shoot that involved the wilderness, and smoke bombs; somewhat vague, but still interesting! On Saturday morning we trekked to Portmore to scout a location close to Jam World and I took a few test shots to get a feel of the place. Not exactly what I was expecting, but we decided to make a go of it.

We got there on Sunday morning, got my gear set up, and with the help of fellow photogs Kid Bazzle and Stefan Ramdal, (Unik Fotografi) we got to work. Shoutout to Stefan for the behind the scenes shots!

We originally intended to use a 47” softbox, but quickly realised it wasn’t giving us the look we wanted.

Bazzle (on the left) and I making sure the settings were juuuuust right.

Gotta get the shot, no matter what!

Because I needed to overpower the sun (and I don’t exactly have a powerful strobe), I taped two speedlights together and shot them barebulb, and used circular polarizers to get the look I wanted.

After a few group portraits to get things started, we busted out the smoke bombs! Stefan would pull the pin and run across the frame (they lasted for approximately 1 minute) and I timed the shots to get the moment when the smoke looked most pleasing.

The first smoke bomb sparked and hit Taffarie in his back. Poor guy.

And here we have Stefan (in the green) running across the frame. Do NOT try this at home!

There we go! From left, Akiri Cooper (drummer), Matthew Bailey (rhythm guitar), Jodi Chin (keyboard/vocals), Taffarie Hutchinson (bassist) and Jordan Chin (lead guitarist/producer).

We did more or less the same for the individual portraits sans speedlight-use. All in all, the band was super happy with the final results, and I got some great shots. Click this link here to view the full album of portraits and don’t forget to check out the band’s Soundcloud page!

Rockers with Attitude

Taffarie, serving face!

Mission Accomplished


On Assignment: International Mecca of Style 2016


I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with one of Jamaica’s leading local newspapers as a freelance photojournalist, and as such, I’ve had quite a few experiences working in places that I might not have been before. In addition to this I have also been working in some of the same spaces but in a different position, or context than I previously have; and quite frankly it’s been refreshing! One such assignment lead me to cover Saint International’s International Mecca of Style, a part of its annual Style Week event, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica.

The International Mecca of Style offers a taste of Jamaica’s (and the Caribbean’s) hottest established and up and coming fashion designers. Working a fashion show is quite different from shooting most any other event due to the pace at which things go. It wasn’t my first time in that kind of setting; I’ve worked as a production coordinator on regional television show Mission Catwalk for two seasons. But given that I was now working in a different capacity, it was a whole other kettle of fish.

It starts with finding the perfect spot from which to shoot; if you don’t get there early enough to secure a spot at the front of the runway, you might be in a spot of trouble. And with sections cordoned off for media from specific outlets, it wasn’t easy, but I got it done! Below are some of my favourite images from the night, one of which made the cover of the Sunday magazine in the paper.


Street Photography in Jamaica (And why it can be so damn hard)

This post originally appeared on my Medium blog in August 2013. I’ve recently started working at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (in the Photography Department, naturally), and I’ve been working with and assisting students who had to complete photojournalism assignments centred around street photography. I also received an email from a young man with who seemed to have a passion to tackle it. With that in mind, I thought it prudent to repost it here.

Street photography. It’s something that I’ve studied. It’s something that I love. When I look at street photography, I see the pure, unfiltered activities that can happen at any given time around. No ‘real’ posing. No facades. And it’s an amazing way to be inspired.

I love street photography because it helps me with my own creativity. And even outside of just being creative, it helps me to know how to capture a specific feeling. I’m not quite certain if what I’m writing is making any sense. But it’s how I feel.

My greatest problem with street photography? The streets of my country. Without the proper mindset or skill it can be extremely difficult to practice street photography in Jamaica, due to the mindset of what seems to be the general populace. Raise a camera on the street?

“Ay, nuh tek nuh pictcha a mi, enuh!”

“Yow boss, mek sure seh mi nuh deh pon dat.”

The majority of the comments and protests come from males, usually the ones who dress and act like ‘thugs’; although those reactions are certainly not limited to them. One strange (or not so strange) thing; a photographer who has ‘lighter’ skin, from my observation, gets more positive feedback than a black one such as myself. The reason behind this could perhaps be a post in and of itself.

Sometimes the setting is perfect, a situation where one can go un-hassled. Like the above photo, taken in Half Way Tree, during the 2012 Olympics’ Men’s 4x100 metre final.

Or this, taken during a concert in Emancipation Park.

There are a number of factors at play, here. In the two instances I listed above, there were tonnes of media personnel around. In instances like these, it’s not uncommon for people to strike poses, deliberately hoping to get their photo taken. However, a lone photographer on the street, with an ‘expensive looking’ camera (a DSLR, no matter how basic), gets a lot of unwanted attention. While shooting on the street I’ve received complaints, insults, and even the occasional death threat. Maybe the threats weren’t serious, but it’s always best to treat them as such.

Hopefully one day Jamaican society will change enough that I won’t need to worry about my safety while walking with my camera. But until then… I can’t stop. And I have no plans to do so.

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