This Photograph Is Proof
Fishnets, guitars, and girls in green with toy guns: up-and-coming fashion photographer Laura Ferreira proves that there's still a Caribbean the world hasn't yet seen.
To most, the Caribbean is simply a romanticized tourist destination - a place of bananas and beaches, of sand and sun, and of smiling locals all too willing to please. As Laura's from Trinidad and Tobago, you'd expect that she'd be eager to place her models against backgrounds of rosy sunsets, or of cliched coconut trees. And yet, these stereotypes and are largely missing from the young photographer's work. Instead, there is a photograph of a girl posing with a sword, poised and ready to attack some unknown assailant off-camera; a self-portrait of Laura herself posing in a graveyard, holding red balloons an a mesmerizing expression of naivete. Simply put, this young photographer offers the people a fresh perspective- through fashion photography- of a place they already think they know.
Though Laura's popularity locally has been rapidly increasing, her acqaintance with the field of fashion photography has been fairly short. "I started taking self-portraits around October of last year with my point and shoot camera-it has that flippy screen so I could see what I was doing- and started posting my images on DeviantArt under the name 'samuraichopstick'," Laura explains. "After getting alot of feedback on the pictures and many requests for photoshoots, I saved up some (lots) of money and invested in a dSLR camera." A quick browse through Laura's early work on her deviantArt account reveals some incredibly creative and innovative experimental shots. In one self-portrait, for example, Laura poses with a green lace skirt wrapped round her head. Though a bit unorthodox, the picture has still managed to be provocative, connoting ideas of Middle-Eastern women or Tolkeinian elves.
Amazingly, the young photographer has never been formally trained, giving inspiration to a new generation of internet-savvy enthusiasts who wish to take their hobby a step further. "I've learnt everything through observation and experimenting. I've been advised by a few people to check out local photography courses but I honestly don't have time to get involved in one, and so far if I need to look up something, I've got the lovely internet to help me out- thank you google."
Laura admits that the Internet has been instrumental in allowing her photos to be seen. "I love the internet. My good friend pointed out to me a few days ago that if it wasn't for the internet I would be struggling to get my photography acknowledged only through word of mouth, but I've known this since I started advertising online. It really is a great portal to the world, and it has helped me out so much with getting my images out there and making a name for myself."
Social Networking sites like Facebook have allowed Laura to gain almost- immediate access to people interested in her work. "I have a group called 'Laura Ferreira Photography' where people can go and check out my latest shoots, give feedback, and arrange with me for commissioned jobs. I know that I can't rely on this site forever so I have been slowly building my own website in my free time. All in all, it has really jumpstarted a fresh new career for me, I bow down to the internet gods."
Inspired by former Suicide Girl photographer, Phillip Warner, Laura has developed an aesthetic that's edgy, yet accessible. Nevertheless, one question still remains unanswered- Is there a way for a photographer to incorporate some cultural elements into his or her work, striking a balance between patriotism and kitsch?
"There are so many ideas I have in my head that come from dreams, movies, personal experiences and even other photographs that I've seen that I just want to branch out on, but I can't think of any that I've done so far that have a direct link with Trinidadian or Caribbean culture," Laura answers. "However, I'm planning on doing a set of shots in the near future based on one practically unknown element of Trinidad's local culture, so if you ask me this question a few months from now I'll be able to say yes and seem quite patriotic without taking a single shot of a coconut tree or carnival."
When asked about her plans for the future, Laura says confidently, "I've had many exciting offers with regards to expanding my career in photography, and I have said yes to a few, but I believe in baby steps. I haven't been doing this for very long, and I don't even have a studio set up yet (I use natural lighting) so I don't want to get way in over my head. I do believe though that I will be a photographer for many years to come. The success that I've had so far, and in such a short space of time, is very encouraging and with the great people that I've met so far with every shoot, I'm looking forward to meeting even more great individuals."