Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Lyndersay keeps it real
Mark Lyndersay took a group of photographers, journalists and tech professionals on a nostalgic trip down memory lane on Wednesday, at the first in a series of talks entitled Studio Sessions @ Studio 30. There was standing room only at Studio 30, the photo studio on Warren St, Woodbrook, owned by British-born photographer Antony Scully as Lyndersay reeled off the highlights of a distinguished 35-year career in photojournalism. He also fielded questions from the floor, bringing the discussion right up to the here and now, dealing with issues faced by contemporary photographers.
The theme of the night addressed the challenges of remaining relevant in an age of changing technologies and trends. At times it felt like Lyndersay was career coaching, maybe even life coaching, the assembled crowd who sat attentive, occasionally erupting with laughter at Lyndersay’s wryly delivered anecdotes, many of which felt familiar to any photographer; amateur or professional, press or fashion, wildlife or weddings. His career—filled with big moments like capturing the arrest of Abu Bakr after the 1990 attempted coup, the founding of The Wire, the photo of Michael Jackson kissing Janelle “Penny” Commissiong in 1978—has also involved its fair share of mundane PR work.
Every professional snapper’s bread and butter involves the obligatory events and awards shoots, “Pictures of people standing around talking, standing around looking at each other, standing around sipping drinks. Pictures of people at podiums delivering speeches nobody cares about.” Lyndersay was keen to stress the importance of balancing the work that, “Pays Hi-Lo and the electricity bills,” with work you actually care about. T&T is a small market so how do you make a career out of pictures, when there are other options like being a librarian or banker? “You just go and do it,” Lyndersay told the crowd, giving the example of his theatre photography spanning the years 1978-1990.
By getting out there and photographing what you like and doing it with passion, photographers can make a name and create a space for themselves, whether it’s pretty girls in bikinis, colour portraits of a young David Rudder or corporate portraits of the judiciary. Lyndersay related that he uploaded the photos of judges to his own web site before several judges requested he take them down, as they believed it was, “Like a map for people who want to kill us!” Following his pictorial passions eventually led him to producing Local Lives—the double page spread photo essays for the T&T Guardian covering behind-the-scenes of people’s everyday lives. Some of the subjects he’s covered include the goat racer in Tobago, workers at the La Basse rubbish dump protesting its closure, or behind the scenes at Phase II Pan Groove.
The discussion threatened to get technical during the Q&A. There was some back and forth between Lyndersay and Jamaican freelance photographer Marlon James, sitting in the front row, concerning darkrooms, picture developing solution and Canon Rebel XT cameras. At this point Lyndersay came clean, “I’m probably not the best person to be addressing a room full of photographers because I don’t actually care about equipment.” It’s people that make pictures, not equipment. That’s Lyndersay’s philosophy and he’s sticking to it. The next in the series of Studio Sessions monthly talks will take place at Studio 30, 30A Warren St, Woodbrook, on September 18.
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