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Donnette Mason has an eye for detail that has made her stand out in the mainstream world of photography. When recounting her journey of when she started out, she said: “The love started from primary school, throwing partner money to buy my first camera. Capturing moments and emotions through lens followed me into high school. Freezing that motion to look back at it, the joy that persons feel in that moment from that previously created memory, I wanted to bring that happiness to people out there. That is why I said yes to photography.”
She is especially interested in showcasing black subjects in their full beauty, and has been featured in the Jamaican Gleaner regarding her “Black Girl Magic” photoshoot. The project included models Deidre Drummond, Robi-Ann Robinson, and Yanique Neil, with make-up artist Shenelle Morant and Shenz Fashion Boutique providing make-up and clothing expertise. I decided to get her take on practicing her craft during this changing social climate.
What was your experience with racism like?
“My experience with racism was while going on work and travel in the States. While working as a cashier in a store in North Carolina, when persons realize that I am black they give the others skips to avoid me and go to the white person working. Another time, I was riding on the highway and a lady was driving towards me. She tried to run me off the road while showing me a middle finger and blowing her horn, and shouted “n*gger” at me.”
How does the racial conversation play out in the Jamaican context?
“In Jamaica, persons feel like racism doesn’t happen here, but what is dominant is colourism.”
You mentioned helping Grace “Spice” Hamilton with the Black Hypocrisy Initiative. How did that event go and what impact has it made on our society?
“I worked with Cara Vickers and Spice on this project and it was successful. The event brought attention to colourism which has been an avoided topic but ever since the event more people are aware of colourism.”
Does colourism impact your job as a photographer?
“Well so far, it hasn’t affected my job but I do try my best to show off the beauty of our black people.”
What advice can you give for navigating through tension?
“My best advice would be not to react when tensions are high. It’s not all the time you should fight fire with fire, some fights can be fought on an intellectual level. Some tensions you walk away from.”
In order for one to hone their photography skills, she advises: “Go around, find photographers, be their assistant. Learn the trade and see it from a different point of view. Through assisting these experts, you will garner a greater appreciation for the artform and be able to form your own unique style. If you have your own camera, go around and shoot. Discover what you love to photograph, and see how best you can be different and stand out.”
Please feel free to contact Tai Images at:
Phone Number: (876) 869-7602
Email: [email protected]
Blessings in abundance!