I get bored very easily so I decided to take a break from the music series and try something different. I appreciate Photography as an art so why not get to know some of my favourite photographers a little better. Here is the first installment.
Meet Jamaican Photographer, Jik-Reuben Pringle a.k.a Visual Ninja
All photos by Jik-Reuben Pringle
1. Put your playlist on shuffle and give me the first five selections.
- Bas ft. J. Cole and KQuick – Lit
- Nina Simone – That’s All I Want From You
- Ed Sheeran – Photograph
- Raury ft Big K.R.I.T. – Forbidden Knowledge
- Bill Withers – Lovely Day
You’re a past student of Edna Manley College right?
Jik-Reuben: Most people like to think or believe I attended Edna Manley. I guess because of my appearance, level of work or simply because I was always there looking for my friend Darien or Ms. Zacca. However I actually attended University of Technology between 2009 to 2013 where I graduated with a Second Class Honors in Bsc. Land Surveying and Geographic Information Science.
Side note: I think one day Edna Manley College will give me an honourary doctorate.
What or who got you interested in photography?
I’ve always been interested in visual arts, I practiced arts in different forms until I fully discovered photography in Summer 2010, when my classmate Kadeem showed me the use of the macro function on my Nikon Point and shoot camera, from there I started shooting every little insect and plant I could. September 2010 when I entered second year of university I joined the U-Tech Photography Club, where as my university life progressed so did my success in the club moving from a regular member, obtaining my first DSLR, becoming Vice President then President in 2012/2013 school year.
How do you feel your time at U-Tech contributed to the photographer you are today?
My time at U-Tech did contribute to my photography, my field of study actually had a course called Photogrammetry which is basically the science and practice of aerial photography which taught me a lot about the history of photography, how photography could be utilized outside of a creative stance and much more. Also, if it wasn’t for my time at the institution I possibly wouldn’t have discovered my love for photography. It was also a place to practice. The university offered a playground of people, subjects and events to capture and hone my skills in different aspects. In my latter years of University I worked for the Student Union and a number of clubs.
I remember you mentioning some time ago on Twitter that you were a lecturer. Are you still teaching? How is that going for you?
I’m not a full lecturer, I’m a part time lecturer for a course on the School of Hospitality called “Food Styling, Writing and Photography” I lecture or rather oversee the photography aspect of the course. I guide the students on how to work along side a photographer as well as capture the images for their final assessment portfolio. The course runs from January to April each school year, So I’m back on the grind this semester again. I look forward to meeting and educating this new batch of students. I enjoy educating people, so I can’t complain about this experience at all.
I’m 24 and I have been hearing the name Jik-Reuben for quite a while. The brand is strong right now but when did you start professionally?
I registered my business last summer, so one can say I started my professional career then. However I have been taking photographs for over 8 years as a passion.
Now you can get into the local and/or foreign photographers whose work inspired you back then or even now.
To be honest, I don’t really draw inspiration from photographers per say. Most of my inspiration come from my friends in other creative fields like Matthew “ Eyedealist” McCarthy, Gladstone “S7one” Taylor, Tayo Rapport, Dan Thompson, Taj Francis, Kokab Zahoori-Dossa. Other than that, if I was to list photographers; Ansel Adams, Darien Robertson, Gordon Parks, Nickii Kane, Phvrovhxo, Lizzy Brown (My mentor), Puru Gadite and Justice Mukheli. Honestly I’m very inspired by the younger generation of photographers I love their drive and their understanding of community.
You’re well known for your ‘black and white’ work. Why do you feel that is so? What about it makes it stand out in your opinion?
When I started photography I was very interested in the work of Ansel Adams, his use of Black and White and his Zoning system. I always thrived to capture and process my imagery to look like that of early black and white film, while still expressing a very cinematic approach of documenting this current generation. Presenting in black and white allows me to show the audience exactly what I want them to see which is the pure; raw emotions and feelings of a person or natural essence of a scene. While I will admire other’s colour photography I find that for the aim of my photography; colour distracts the audience from the true message. We live in a digital world filled with colour and often times viewers get caught up in the colours, double tap and keep it moving. When they see one of my images, they have to pause, because they are so drawn in and engulfed in the stillness of the moment or portrait.
When I was growing up, old people used to say “Nuh tek nuh picture of mi, mi nuh wah yuh tek mi soul” It’s funny because I feel thats exactly what I do, I capture the essence and sometimes the true side of who a person is and reveal it to the world through my black and white photography. Others who have seen my work have described my work as captivating, timeless, vintage, still and they feel the emotions of the persons I’m capturing jumping out at them, to which I’m grateful because thats what makes my work stand out and it’s what I am to achieve when I photograph something and process it Black and White.
You have shot a plethora of artistes at stage shows and such. Which ones would you say you’re most proud of? Also, give me a glimpse into the “must shoot this person one day” list
Interesting question…To be honest, I have quite a few of shots I’m proud of but I’ll say my image of Skip Marley with an image of his grandfather Bob Marley in the background. In this image both are striking the same iconic pose. It’s one of my proudest moments because a lot of thought went into that photograph. I was the only person that was on that side of the photo pit and I lay waited that photograph for almost 10 minutes or more. After I captured that photograph I turned my camera off, returned to the media tent and watched the rest of his set via the monitor because I knew I got the money shot. ( I really wanted to get this photo for this post but Jik says that one is under lock and key)
I’ll also add Koffee, in 2017 Wickie Wackie Fest I captured her on stage. I didn’t know much about her, I heard a few people mentioning her name along with her song ‘Burning’ but when I saw her on stage I knew her career was gonna skyrocket. Her presence on stage was that of a mature and seasoned performer like Chronixx or Jesse Royal. After the performance I had to meet her and ask her management for her to be featured in Backayard Magazine. So said so done, she blew up and is now signed to Columbia Records UK. I’m happy for her and proud that I could have spotted the greatness in her before the hype.
In 2014 I created a top 5 must shoot list which included:
1. Buju Banton
2. Ziggy Marley
3. Beres Hammond
I’ve since then captured Etana in 2015 and Beres several times since 2016. I will be ticking Buju off that list this year, no doubt about it. As for the other two, it is only a matter of time.
You recently showcased at Art Basel, Miami. How did you get that opportunity and what was the experience like?
Art Basel was a vibe. I was contacted in the summer of 2018 by fellow photographer and basically older brother David I. Muir about the opportunity to showcase in the event he exhibited last Art Basel called “Let There Be Reggae”. I was told to send my concert portfolio and expect a call from the organiser. I was contacted and he loved my work and my personality. It was an interesting experience, as it made me realize just how vast my portfolio is and how much iconic imagery I had captured over the course of 6 years (2012 to 2018).
The show days were unbelievable, a lot of people were amazed at how great my showcase and especially amazed at how young I was and how much interest I have in the industry. I showcased 24 large prints and 17 polaroids of artiste from before my time like (Beres Hammond, Maxi Priest, Ninja Man, Lady Saw), of my time like (Protoje, Jah9, Ras I, Feluke, etc.) and also showed the progression of my personal growth as well as growth of artistes like Chronixx. I met and was congratulated by so many interesting people. Pat Chin from VP records, representative from Billboard, a number of veterans in the photography industry passed through. Not to mention family and friends who came. The entire experience humbled me and showed me just how many people internationally and locally really support and love my work. I haven’t seen or heard any ill comment towards me with regards to me being apart of this show and I think that speaks volumes.
Alright, give me some of the variables people should take into consideration when it comes to the pricing for your services.
Well in pricing photo and video services one has to take into consideration time, expenses, rights and licensing, how much you believe you are worth, price of your equipment, etc. Equipment ain’t cheap especially when you have to ship through Jamaican customs. Your time and creativity ain’t cheap. After a long work day photographing, because of all the creative stimulation and physical fatigue you will most definitely get home exhausted like you worked behind a desk for 8 hours. If you’re unaware on how to price a certain job, google what other professionals are charging overseas and use that as a guide to break down the job for your economy. I do this all the time especially when I get overseas and commercial clientele.
In closing, what message would you like to leave with the people?
Honestly focus on your craft, your eye is your tool, the camera is just an extension. People always getting caught up on buying the latest gear and their pictures still look plain and they can’t figure out why….they spend no time practicing, doing research and actually thinking through anything.
If business is why you’re getting into photography, PLEASE do your research, know about copyrighting, licensing, finance, marketing, etc. Don’t want to read? There are many audiobooks and podcasts that address these things for photography or just in general.
Thanks for supporting my work and stay tuned for the rest of the year as I will be dropping some new flames as the year progresses.