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Seeking the Natural Light - Sabriya Simon
For Sabriya Simon photography is a search for beauty, or rather the expression of it unfiltered by false lights and unmolested by relentless photoshopping. The young photographer with a growing reputation of taking striking natural light photography, mainly portraits, delved into her life and art at a talk organized by Prana at the Grovesnor Gallery, Constant Spring, Kingston.
Reading from a response to an interview conducted by ARC Magazine, Simon explained that she focuses on women and landscapes in their natural form because she wanted is to offset the unnatural expression of beauty as espoused in the magazines she used to devour growing up.
"I have a pimple limit," she said laughingly, explaining that she doesn't photoshop her images, at the most she might remove a pimple or two. "There is so much beauty that we take for granted,” she said. "When people now look at pictures that I take and say, wow, you think this is me? No it’s all you. What you are loving so much is all you and that... It has to be part of my mission.”
Simon confessed that she wasn’t always that way, having adopted her Rasfari livity and great appreciation for nature after moving to Jamaica.
"I never used to like flowers you know." She explained revealing an actual revulsion for all things natural including unprocessed hair, and not understanding her mother’s passion for them.
Simon explained that she had been bitten by the shutter bug from a very young age, but began actively pursue photography about the year 2000, a time when she was seeking higher meaning and purpose in her life.
Born to an Antiguan father and Jamaican mother, she grew up in Antigua and arrived in Jamaica, the land she now calls home to attend university. At the time, as a science student she seemed to be travelling in the family’s footsteps, but that was not to be. She found herself crisis locked and failing and eventually changed faculties. She noted that it was a time of great depression and loss of her way as she contemplated being kicked out of school and disappointing her parents.
"I remember I reached to a point. It was rough. I even broke down," she confided in the audience.
"I wouldn't have killed myself, but I wanted a way to escape."
Fortunately with counselling she eventually graduated with a degree in psychology. During that period she received her first camera from her father and began to pursue it as a hobby. She confessed that at the time she still knew nothing about photography and constantly using flash. This changed when at the recommendation of Khalil Francis she attended Edna Manley College.
"From there it's just been opening up so much more. I had to question why I was doing photography, other than for my own happiness," she said.
Simon explained that her appreciation for the natural came when she began through experiencing Jamaica’s natural beauty. She confessed, that despite the numerous beaches in Antigua she had taken that beauty for granted, but this shifted the first time she stood in a river, which was in Jamaica.
"That is what Jamaica did for me. Seeing that landscape and taking that step in that river, different vibe."
It changed her world view.
"Anything that I'm doing has to flow like how this is flowing," she said. So for her, doing photography is also about connecting with people. "If I don't connect with people from the soul level then I'm going to be lost" she said.