PhD Student Captures Trinidadian Culture Through Carnival Photography | VTX
Foncette describes her style of photography as journalistic portraiture – taking pictures of people telling a story. In each image, she tries to capture not only the person, but also the context of the place and the events that were happening at the time.
Over the years, she has taken pictures in places as widespread as Egypt, India, Senegal, Oman and Cuba. Still, Trinidad and Tobago remained his primary focus. The ethnic and cultural diversity of the country offers an endless range of subjects for his photography. “There are images I took that look like they’re from Nigeria or southern India,” Foncette said, “but they’re in Trinidad.”
In addition to cultural festivals like Carnival, she has photographed religious festivals, which require a different degree of respect and empathy. She captured events such as the Hindu observance of Ganga Dhara Teerath and religious festivals in Trinidad Orisha, a belief system originating from the West African Yoruba religion. By photographing such events, she seeks to honor the spiritual significance of the traditions for those who practice them.
Foncette cites her experience working in mental health as integral to learning how to navigate these spaces. Like photographers, therapists often have to deal with situations where many factors are beyond their control.
“You have to constantly work collaboratively, treat people with dignity and respect, taking your ego out of it,” she said. “As a photographer, it helped me to know how to be in this space. And as a qualitative researcher, I take those experiences into how I approach interviews and formulate research questions. »
Foncette is currently working on her thesis, which studies how adolescent girls in Trinidad and Tobago receive information and make decisions about sex. After completing her doctorate, her goal is to continue doing research, education and policy work on culture and gender equality. And, of course, she will continue to take pictures whenever she can.
According to Foncette, photography taught him that it is possible to obtain a positive result from situations beyond his control. Amidst the noisy and unpredictable atmosphere of the carnival, each of its images preserves the joy and artistry of the festival in a single moment.
“Every time I take the picture, it’s a prize in the moment, hearing the shutter click,” she said. “You’ve done all this work, you’ve been on your feet for hours, you’re exhausted, but then you put the memory card in your computer and you see the images. And looking at my pictures over the years, I’m like, ‘Wow! I feel much better. You keep working at it and you keep learning from it, and you will eventually succeed.
Written by Mary Crawford