Turning the lens inward
When Meredith Andrews became a mother she wanted her children to know Bermuda.
She and her husband Sami Lill were living in his native Sweden with their children, Freya and Henry.
Two years ago they returned to the island to “put some roots down”.
But that also meant she had to root herself.
Ms Andrews has made work through travel photography. She's a regular contributor to Lonely Planet magazine, Boston Globe and several in-flight publications.
“We said, ‘Let's see if we can do this and if we can, then we'll stay. And if we can't then we're not tearing them away from their best friends when they're ten,” the 40-year-old said.
Their great concern was whether they could succeed financially in Bermuda within their creative fields — Mr Lill is a designer and illustrator.
“Doing what you love, particularly in a society like this, it is a hustle,” Ms Andrews said.
“When you run your own business here, you're your own lawyer, you're your own accountant. I'm basically doing everything and it's great, but it is a hustle.
“We were worried, but I feel like I get a lot of love. I'm asked to do a lot of creative, fun things that I wouldn't have been doing in Sweden or London.”
The couple lived on the island from 2004 to 2007 after a five-year stint in the British city. During that time Ms Andrews started shooting weddings, having only photographed a handful before then.
“I went into it very hesitantly, but I really enjoy it,” said the former photographer for The Royal Gazette and the Independent in London.
“Because I used to be a press photographer, my nature is being a reactionary photographer — I go somewhere and I document what's happening. A wedding is essentially a news story. You have the linchpins: they're going to arrive at the church, they're going to walk down the aisle, they're going to kiss, cut the cake, but then every wedding is unique. It's basically a reportage job and a portrait job and I really enjoy doing both those things.”
When Ms Andrews isn't “jobbing” she's “working”, populating her Instagram account with artful imagery from around the island taken strictly with her iPhone. She's hesitant to admit that a lot of her inspiration has come from that platform; she has amassed more than 3,000 followers.
“I really enjoy Instagram and the exhibition space that it is,” she told Lifestyle. “I'm very careful with how I curate it. It's sort of a challenging exercise.”
It has also allowed her to extend her reach. In the last year she has ramped up her fashion work through a successful partnership with Bermudian Shiona Turini, a consultant in New York.
In May, Ms Andrews used all-Bermudian talent for a fashion spread she captured here for Nylon magazine. The publication rarely shoots outside of the US and London.
“Shiona brought me into that world,” she said.
While “there's no money in it”, Ms Andrews loves shooting editorial.
“If I'm lucky enough to live here and get to shoot here then I have to pay it forward and promote the island in any way I can,” she said. Her latest exhibit, Island Obscura, opened at Masterworks last week. She turned the lens inward for it. Models act as a “proxy” for the photographer and the 24 images represent different phases of her life.
“I have an understanding of what Bermuda and being Bermudian is to other people and in some ways I feel like I'm not part of that, but I think a lot of people feel that way,” she said. “I really care about the island and I feel very rooted in Bermuda. Your identity is only what you make it. I'm dealing with how I feel about my place in this society. I think in a way we all are.”
• Island Obscura is on display in the Rick Faries Gallery until October 31. For more information visit meredithandrewsphotography.com or www.meredithwedding.com