Nadia Huggins is a young artist bringing bounds of curiosity to her journey through photography. Exploring her home of the Caribbean both above and below water, she dances with the random motions of the sea while making a statement through how one can cast new eyes on such a tried-and-true tourist destination...
1. Who are you?
Nadia Huggins 32-year-old visual artist currently based in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
2. Describe your medium & process for your photos...
I work primarily with photography, but I’ve been shifting slowly back into video. The process ranges depending on what I’m shooting. I use a very simple point and shoot, Olympus Tough TG2 for all of my underwater work. I’ve set out to see how much I can push my ideas working with very basic equipment. Although it can be limiting in terms of image quality and control, it’s given me access to certain situations and allowed a certain amount of agility, which I really like. Sometimes photography can become a bit like dancing, so the more comfortable you are with the device, the easier it is to respond to a moment. For my “land” images I switch between using a canon 5D mark II and my iPhone. Again it’s a question of access, agility and quality.
I think like most photographers, a simple walk outside opens up so much to capture. We are all looking for different things that embody who we are in some way. The images are just a response to our own ideas of the world we live in. In most cases, I am looking for the everydayness of my experiences living/growing up in the Caribbean, which I hope is able to transcend a place and embody some kind of universality. With certain projects I really try to understand what I’m looking at, there is usually an overarching question that I’m asking, with rarely any resolve, but the images develop out of this somehow.
3. How did you find your passion? Who/what influences your work?
I think there was a natural progression of things in my life. I was lucky to have creative and supportive parents growing up so they always encouraged me to explore and remain curious. As a child, I used to draw a lot and sculpt these elaborate characters out of Play-Doh. Also, I would carve faces in the chalk at school and make animated flipbooks in my textbooks.
My father was a bit of a techie, so when the first set of consumer digital cameras were released, he got one and allowed me to experiment with it a little. I was fascinated by the instant nature of it and messed around with the different models over the years. Eventually, when I was about 17, my best friend got this great underwater camera that we used to shoot with. We mostly just shot our friends and adventures, but I think it was the first time I consciously realized I was creating an image with artistic intent. After that, I became more and more interested in the craft and started reading up a lot and exploring different works.
Some of the artists who have influenced my work; Diane Arbus, David Lynch, Peter Dean Rickards, Christopher Cozier, Sally Mann, Jonathan Glazer, Martin Parr, Khalil Joseph. Also a lot of music, but I could go on!
4. What excites you about your work? What do you struggle with?
I love how random things can become, especially with underwater work. Everything is so unpredictable in the ocean, like with the weather or visual clarity for example. This allows the possibility for so much to happen, I find that to be the most exciting part. Of course, there are days you go out and nothing seems to happen, but that could also be the result of where you are in your head and what you’re looking for. I find the repetition of going to the same place and looking for things to photograph the most challenging aspect. Mostly because you have to learn to be patient with yourself and your environment. Once you are able to push through that monotony the rewards are great.
Also, at the moment I’m based full-time in Trinidad. Before I was living in St Vincent & the Grenadines (my home island). I have less access to the beach here so I’ve been making less work in the water. Before I was a 4-minute walk away, now it’s at least a 30 min drive. It might seem slight, but it makes the world of difference! Distance is crucial if you want to remain consistent with an output.
5. What are your goals? Where do you see yourself going?
I would like to travel more and experience as much of what the world has to offer. So far I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many interesting and passionate people who have been supportive and connect to the work I’ve been doing. That human connection has been crucial to me, I find that to be themost fulfilling part of sharing images. If I am able to continue doing this on a larger scale that would be great.
Also, I want to expand my work beyond photographs and start producing more video work and doing large-scale installations and perhaps someday film. I’d also like to incorporate a deeper social practice into my work. I hope someday I can channel my ideas into playing a part in shifting people’s consciousness by raising awareness and inciting action. Otherwise, what’s the point?