AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Simon Torres Mohess and the only exposure I really like is the exposure of the images I send my clients.
I am a freelance/wedding photographer.
The Torres in our name comes from my grandfather, who came to Trinidad from Venezuela when he was 17.
I was born and raised in South Trinidad, the land of the laid-back. As a baby I was on the Trintoc camp. Eventually I moved to the Palmiste area.
Well, my family. I currently live in Palmiste with my cat Pan.
I come from a small family and am still blessed having both parents, Clyde and Sandra, and my elder brother Jonathan resides in Canada.
I do not have a family but would love to have a kid one day. Who would follow in my footsteps as a photographer, the same way as I followed in my father’s footsteps.
My father taught me everything I know about photography.
My childhood was always spent playing in the South Trintoc Penal camp with cows roaming freely around me while I rode my bike. I grew up swimming, playing tennis and doing a lot of recreational stuff, thanks to the good old days of Trintoc/Petrotrin.
Eventually my parents moved into Palmiste. My adolescence in the early 90s was spent running through fields, parks and exploring abandoned houses looking for adventure.
I had a very fun childhood. I think it has kept me balanced and level-minded.
I attended Cedar Grove Primary, Grant Memorial Presbyterian and St Benedict’s College.
I've always been proud of my parents.
My mother Sandra, a Trini to d bone, is a talented chef and decorator. I use her work as a learning tool.
My father Clyde is a medical doctor who spent most of his life working in the oil industry. He retired recently with the closure of Petrotrin. He is most dedicated to his patients and family alike.
He did amateur photography most of his life. He always walked with a camera and I and my brother looked at him in awe in the church, on the streets and on Carnival days in Port of Spain. He never asked me to do photography but was my greatest inspiration.
I did a degree in IT, but as a teenager, I use to steal his Nikon cameras to do photos in the garden and at beaches. I always wanted to share in the hype my father experienced on the stage and on the streets in Port or Spain.
Eventually as I grew, I started shooting alongside him. Now he has given over photography totally to me.
I believe in an afterlife, reincarnation and karma. For me it certainly is not a long cold sleep after death.
I like black.
Music helps motivates me to create short films and local nature documentaries. I listen to oldies 80s music.
Michael Jackson is still the King of Pop. I think I'm stuck in that 80s genre.
I saw the documentary Leaving Neverland and wasn't impressed. Nothing will change the fact that he was one of the greatest and some of his songs will forever be a part of my life and early childhood memories. (Also) the judge dismissed MJ's accusers cause the stories kept changing over and over: no real facts till this day.
I tend to gravitate more to comics than books because of the visual representations the writers give. Everything is more dramatic, raw and filled with passion.
My career is all about visual representation, effects, costumes, colours, props, themes and more. Comics by the late and great Stan Lee assist with my ideas for my themed photoshoots, heroic powerful characters, how they fight, poses and stance.
A photo with a write-up goes a long way for me.
I love Carnival and even more love capturing it. I have a fascination with the superstitious, folklore side of Carnival, such as the douen, Papa Bois and Mama Glow or Mama D’Leau.
We are a very interesting society filled with superstitious beliefs and I appreciate that much more than the half-naked women parading in the streets.
I have never played mas but felt like I've been playing for years while filming or shooting masqueraders during Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
My favourite group of performers are Kees, Hans and Jon, the Dieffenthaller Brothers from Kes the Band, the international soca icons.
After all, I grew up listening to them practising next door daily in the comfort of my room. They were my neighbours for 20-plus years.
Until they moved to Port of Spain a few years aback, most mornings I would wake up to the voice of either Kees singing or his mother, Aunty Diana, who sang opera with the most powerful and intense vocals.
One dish I can eat forever would be pure crab meat in a crab-shell. With a side of fried coconut shrimp…Every damn day!
Becoming a photographer was influenced by two factors.
One was my father, of course, seeing both his photos and how he interacted with people and made them smile during parties and weddings.
The second was realising I wasn't happy sitting in an office for eight hours daily with little or no interaction.
At age 30, I left behind my government IT career and proceeded with photography with full force.
I do not have a darkroom, however, but I have a photography studio.
Where I shoot clients and digitally process images, the new form of the traditional darkroom.
Trinidad being such a multicultural island, I'm so happy to have worked with every type of culture, race and religion with regard to weddings, birthday events and family shoots. I have done events is churches, temples, mosques and gardens.
This has helped me to learn more about other cultures within TT, which has helped me to grow as an individual.
It's really an honour to be part of something so intimate. And for people to be so trusting of me with their family.
Wedding trends have changed due to covid. The bride, groom, bridesmaids, best men, guests and relatives all in masks, everybody trying to social distance.
All weddings have become smaller, which means less people, less food, sometimes no alcohol, no more hugs, kisses and handshakes from guests.
But on the good side, it is now easier to manage and control your photoshoot.
The reception is a very crucial and fun part of the wedding, but my favourite part of the entire wedding is capturing the creative intimate 15-minute session shoot of the bride and groom alone.
Favourite moments are always when I show guests pictures of themselves right there on the camera during a shoot. It's called Straight out of Camera (SOOC).
That way people warm up to the camera quicker and, by the second time I snap them, they pose even better with a bigger smile.
The best part of being a photographer is when a client cannot believe they look so good. Their attitudes change, and the realisation kicks that everyone, including you, can in fact can be a rock star.
Boosting confidence and uplifting people in their darkest moments…That's the power of photography.
The worst part of the job is that the general public would tend not to take our job seriously. Meaning we, as photographers, some may not hold a PhD, some potential clients won't think it's worth paying us the prices we quote for our services.
I always say, “Well, use your phone camera to get the job done."
People fail to realise without photography there would be no advertisements, no fashion magazines, no corporate photos, no films, no movie-trailer posters, no sport-car posters, no billboards, no real-estate homes display, no fast-food menus. I could keep going on.
Image is everything and everywhere.
Remember, one day we will leave this world to enter a spiritual one.
But at least we can leave behind a physical memory of ourselves on a wall or in an album that will never fade.
Without a doubt my most miserable experience was at the beginning of the state of emergency lockdown.
Not being able to work makes me very miserable.
Tasty, hot, fresh food cheers me up, and spending time with my pet cat named Pan.
I actually miss nothing about TT when I'm abroad, only my parents and my pet.
When I'm away that's exactly why I left, to get away from everything.
A Trini must indulge in traditional customs and food. And eat all of your neighbour's kurma when you weren't even invited at Divali.
Trinidad and Tobago is a paradise, and us Trinis just don't seem to comprehend that. We have everything here to be self-sufficient. We have the best climate and weather for farming sugar, cocoa, coffee and citrus and, no matter where you are, the sea is only a few miles away.
Our culture is a mixture of Asian, European, African, Amerindian, West Indian, Arab cultures and now heavily Venezuelan.
Everyone and everything are all connected and mixed and we have the most beautiful women. We are what you call a "douglarised nation.”
And, if you do not understand that, then I guess you are not a Trini.
Read the full version of this feature on Saturday at www.BCPires.com