We're proud to partner with Exposure Toronto on this new series of artist features. Exposure Toronto was founded in 2020 as a not-for-profit organization focusing on the amplification of Black creatives within the photography industry. Their community and studio are built to provide a safe and accessible space; as well as financial, physical resources and opportunities.
We want to get to know these talented artists involved and support Exposure Toronto in highlighting the artists' work and thoughts. That's why we sent Exposure Toronto some Lomography films and Art Lenses for their photographers to play with.
Meet Jenisha Hibbert Thomas, a Canadian-Jamaican photographer and creative director in portraits, fashion, and fine arts. Mainly focused on digital photography, Jenisha challenged her artistic skills by shooting with the Simple Use Camera LomoChrome Metropolis and its muted color palette. Here, she shares with us the film and digital versions of her latest series titled "Blue Du", as well as her thoughts on the power of the two formats.
Hi Jenisha, welcome to the Lomo community! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, my name is Jenisha Hibbert Thomas and I am a Canadian-Jamaican photographer and creative director working around the Greater Toronto Area. Over the past four years, I have used my background in graphic design and painting to photograph portraits, fashion and fine-art work that I believe tells a story within each image.
What was your introduction to photography like? Since when have you been practicing analogue?
My introduction to photography surprisingly began in a darkroom, surrounded by portraits of friends and imagery of art. I took an ‘Introduction to Photography’ course in high school that led me to an obsession with capturing moments and playing with light. Being that analogue format was our school’s only option for cameras at the time, I loved playing with light to compensate for the lack of color, which is obviously a pivotal aspect of my current work.
What does Exposure Toronto mean to you?
Exposure Toronto means community, support, creativity, economy, collaboration and Blackness! Exposure Toronto created a community of Black creatives that simply wanted to be seen, heard and valued for their work. It created not only a physical space where local Black creatives could use affordable studio space and create impactful content, but it also created an online platform where we could collaborate with other creatives and connect with a supportive community.
We love the strong contrasts in color choices. Can you tell us the story behind this shoot? Is there something you wish to convey?
Entitled “Blue Du”, this set of images tells the story of a Black King and the evolution of the Durag. Set both on the natural land of sand and sea as well as against a contrasting color match, these images convey a duality of calm and vibrance. Durags used to be used simply for the functionality of black hair protection and creating ‘waves’, but now they have elevated past this practicality. Durags have become a bold fashion choice in their advancements in colors, textures and most recently, length. So simply put, I wanted to capture a Black King in contrasting colors, settings, and lighting that show off his fashion-forward “Blue Du”.
You took these photos in both film and digital. What did you make of the results?
I love the permanence of film, in the unchanging or lasting ideal of an image invisible to the creator until a full developmental process creates your final image.
For this project, the vivid color made possible by the digital camera works better than the muted color of the film camera. The film has similar contrast to what I created in digital post-production, but the quality of grain is much better due to the natural mechanics of the Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera. Overall, I liked the results of the digital images for what I was trying to execute, but I respect the natural aspects made only possible by the film quality.
How was your experience with the Simple Use Camera Metropolis Edition and its muted color palette?
Lomography’s Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera LomoChrome Metropolis Edition has a very unique color treatment with a green-blue tint to it. I loved this muted color palette better in the cooler atmosphere by the water rather than the warmer orange background. I think the muted color treatment compliments the calming blue aesthetic of the blue water and the outfit, but I do appreciate the soft tones it adds into the orange as well as the velvet Durag texture.
Is there anything you want to experiment with next?
Next I’m looking into experimenting with drawing and painting on photographs, whether it be physical images or in post-production. It’s something I’ve played with in the past and really want to try exploring again with more intent. I also want to delve into more work within my Black community so that we are able to explore and share our stories together.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you so much to Lomography and Exposure Toronto for thinking of me for this opportunity. This process made me once again examine my original connection with film photography through the Simple Use Metropolis Camera and it really had me thinking of what’s next for me in continuing the message of community that Exposure Toronto strived towards. So thank you again.