Raising the bar behind the lens
IF YOU HAD ASKED Gillian Morris in the past what is her profession, the reply might have been: “I am an attorney”. Now she tucks on “by day” at the end of that answer. Discovery of her new talent as a photographer has given rise to some conflict in her mind between her prowess behind the lens and her practice at the bar. Friends’ reaction to the exhibition of her photography currently on show has made it even more difficult for her to decide where she is going.
“In my mind I am a lot more artistic than lawyer,” said the 37-year-old mother of an 11-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son, as she looked out to sea from the gallery of the Drift lounge and bar in Holetown, where about 29 of her photographs are currently mounted.
“I tend to think in pictures and see things in full pictures rather than in words” she said, adding: “On a funny day I might fancy myself as a little bit of a painter but I really like taking pictures.”
The passion for photography she believes she inherited from her father, who she remembers “always had a fancy camera and really liked photography.”
She always had a love for art during student days at The St Michael School, but it was her mother who unwittingly steered her in the direction of photography by presenting her with a gift of a photography course with noted Barbadian photographer Ronnie Carrington.
On exciting field outings with Ronnie, Gillian’s keen photographic eye often fell on scenes she captured with her Nikon camera. At that time she was not aware of her photographic ability but Ronnie, the expert, recognised her talent and fostered it.
“On my first outing with Ronnie he said ‘You will never look at things the same way again’. That was absolutely true.”
Evidence of that truth may be found in some of the pictures on show at Drift, in which she managed to zoom in on moments from that first experience out in the field and record them in a way that gives expression to her talent.
“Ronnie finds a way to give you just enough to do what you need to do and he does not focus on ‘you have to have this kind of camera and this kind of lens. He says any camera, once your eye is good, can take a certain quality of picture and composition,” Gillian said of her mentor.
The exhibition portrays several examples of the things Ronnie liked about the photographer’s work; colour and impressive images are recorded with the kind of composition that tells you the amateur photographer just knew how to shoot the right time and capture the moment.
But from her musings in the interview with EASY, there was the impression this is a lawyer at the crossroads.
“I have always wanted to be a lawyer. Since I was small I was talking about a lawyer or a teacher,” said Gillian. Law was indeed the course of study she pursued at university and she worked for about eight years at the Ministry of Housing before leaving “because I was not quite sure if that was what I wanted to do anymore.” She went into private practice.
“At first I was thinking I did not like law. Sometimes I still think I am not so sure I like it. But I think what is probably more accurate where that is concerned is where it is in the law that I find myself that I would like, because there are some aspects that I do enjoy.” Criminal law is definitely one aspect she realised she does not.
However, she explained that when she chose legal studies, it was with the clear understanding that “once you start a course, the course sets the parameters for where you move and once you decide that you are going to do law, you are pretty much on that course until you finish.”
She told Easy: “I really like the idea of reading; I like researching; I like the argument and the discourse that goes with that kind of stuff, and since I was at [the Ministry of] Housing, I like policy.”
“I like where policy meets law and I want to be instrumental in doing things that the policy will allow for a more flexible or a more efficient way of doing things within a particular area.”
There was no mistaking the conflicting thoughts racing through this professional lawyer/ amateur photographer’s head. “There are varying parts of art that I like,” she said. “I like to paint; I like taking pictures and recently I have been fancying myself more of a writer than not, and I am almost sorry that I did not do that instead of law.”
“The photographic exhibition she aptly calls Starting From Somewhere is part of her effort at “trying to work through the process of things that I like doing and to figure out at what point can I be a contributing member of society through those things.”
For the moment she is basking in the success of bringing an idea to fruition and executing it in a manner that has won affirmation from the people she invited to the official opening of her exhibition last week.
“Seeing everybody at the exhibition smiling and telling me that my work is good gives me courage and the confidence to say, ‘Okay, the other things that you do might be worth pursuing as well’.
She added: “When I do things I really like, there is something inside of me that connects and I feel very at peace. When I am doing art I feel very peaceful. Likewise, with pictures.”
The “outgoing, confident, fairly carefree” Gillian of earlier times is not sure where she lost that confidence along the way, but she says she is trying to gain that confidence back.
“Right now, where I am . . . because I am not quite sure where it is that I am fitting in . . . . I feel a little lost and I think that is something that plays on my psyche and worries me a lot. So then I realise that you have to put yourself out there a little bit and that is what this is all about.”
With a successful exhibition of her photography under her belt, it will be back to the drawing board to explore her other interests. One thing is certain – you will definitely continue to see her behind the lens.