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Painting life in black and white

Natanga Smith Hurdle

Painting life in black and white

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In a world where owning a camera and taking a few pictures make anyone feel entitled to be called a photographer, there are few photographers in the Caribbean who can truly be called digital artists.
But Alyson Holder from Barbados is one such individual. She recently put some of her work on show at the Art Splash Gallery, Hastings, in an exhibition entitled In Black And White.
She explained to the WEEKEND NATION why the images were all women: “I usually focus on women because I believe I understand them better. I feel that at this point it’s easier for me to convey my points with the familiar. The messages in this exhibition were a bit more mature than in the last showing and were conveyed as questions.
“I decided to go this route because we all ask ourselves questions regularly. Questions are a big part of our growth and sometimes serve as a challenge. Also, I wanted to lead the viewer to see their own meanings in the photos rather than dictate what they should see.”
Holder, a huge fan of Anne Leibovitz, a famous American fashion photographer, says she is also inspired by the late Richard Avedon, also an American photographer, much of whose work is done in black and white, the same as her current exhibition.
“The last exhibition was filled with colour. I wanted to challenge myself to do something different. I’d always been interested and inspired by black and white images, and the first photographs I took while studying at the Barbados Community College were done on black and white film”, she said, adding that the removal of colour also seemed to make the point of the photos more prominent.
“However, I find I’ve a very vivid imagination and I’m inspired by everything, as clichéd as it may sound. I’ve been inspired by things I’ve seen in supermarkets, stories I’ve read, interviews I’ve watched and the list goes on . . . .”
Holder does her work with basic equipment, a Canon 7D and mostly Canon and Sigma lenses.
“I have the basics and a bit of makeshift equipment that I’ve put together. I don’t have a lot of the expensive equipment and most of the time [I have] no budget, so I’ve learnt to make do with what I don’t have and make what I can.”