“It is a battle to get photography recognised as an artform in TT because it’s so linked with technology in people’s minds. Everyone has a camera on their phone or other devices so everyone can take a picture, but not everyone is a photographer.”
Robert Ramkissoon, professional photographer and co-owner of Sepia Studios in Woodbrook said that was why he was excited to win the open category of the TT Photographic Society’s third annual competition and exhibition on August 28.
He said although the society is young, it aims to teach, promote, and nurture photographers. He said its integrity and standard are important to him so he wants to make his input and showcase what photography is all about.
He said a photographer includes elements such as composition, structure, lighting, perspective, and more to take the ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary. Therefore, he is glad to be a part of a platform where photographers got together to showcase the artistry of photography.
“To me it’s all about the art of photography. Photography takes the common things you see everyday and take for granted and, through my perspective and my lens, I will be able to tell a story and make people take a second look and question if it was the same thing they were seeing everyday.”
Ramkissoon contributed three images to the competition and won with Garden Warrior, which is a macro photography image of a bachac or carpenter ant.
“It’s very time consuming to get images like that because you have to do something called focus stacking. That is taking many images of the same subject and putting it together to form one, sharp image. If one of the images came out wrong I would have had to start over.”
In this case he took 56 images, starting from the head and moving to the abdomen, focussing on one area of the bachac, millimetre by millimetre. He then layered the 56 images and lined up all the focal points to get a crisp, focussed image.
“When you look at it you can actually see the texture of the exoskeleton and the hairs on the bachac. That is a special type of photography, which is what I like. It’s something I wanted to bring to the Photographic Society, a different style of photography that I love.”
Ramkissoon said he was drawn to macro photography by accident.
He saw an article and photo about it on the internet and decided to try it. “When I first did it, it looked amazing. It’s like looking into a world of it’s own. It’s looking at nature from a different standpoint. Who would ever imagine that you would be able to take a photograph and see the texture of an insect’s skin?”
He said one aspect of that style of photography is understanding how the subject functions in order to get it to stay still enough to take the images. “That’s why I tell people photography is not just a camera in your hand snapping. You have to understand things properly for it to be effective and get what you want.”
He added that very few photographers in the world have the time or patience for macro photography, which is one of the reasons he enjoys it so much.
He said he is working on creating a macro exhibition next year, with very large photos so visitors can see details of nature from a different perspective, things they will never see with the naked eye.
In addition to his win in the Photographic Society competition, Ramkissoon is proud of his other achievements. For example, he was the first professional photographer to be elected to the executive of the Art Society of TT.
There he was the first vice-president and acting president from June 2015 to November 2017.
His image, Temple in the Sea HDR, was also selected for the National Museum and Art Gallery’s May 2018 photography exhibition, Through My Lens; and he has been featured in several magazines including Ins and Outs, Discover Trinidad and Tobago, and Maco People.