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Coming Face to Face with Bermuda

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Oliver Tucker, Photographer.(Photo by Akil Simmons)

Globe trotting photographer Oliver Tucker was always asked about his nationality from the people he met during his travels and studies abroad.

When he would say ‘Bermuda’, he was usually met with a perplexed look, or blank stare, and found that many people still didn’t know what a person from the Island might look like.

“Considering that, I decided I wanted to explore the idea, and how we as Bermudians are so varied and culturally diverse,” Mr Tucker said.

For the past 18 to 24 months he has taken photos of more than 100 people with “unique characteristics”; people who have a certain beauty about them that is distinctive to Bermuda.

He will be unveiling 16 of his favourite portraits at his debut exhibit called ‘Bermuda Face to Face’, on display from tomorrow until after the Christmas holidays.

Mr Tucker said: “Sometimes I would be driving on the street and just find subjects who I wanted to photograph. Others I knew them from before and thought they had an interesting look to them and called to see if they would take part. I probably shot over 100 people in total.”

He said the reactions from people he asked to photograph were surprisingly welcoming and most participants were really co-operative with him.

“They would ask me what the pictures were for and where it was going, but everyone likes to have their photo taken and feel famous even if it’s just for a couple of minutes,” he added.

The 23-year-old said he was welcomed into some people’s homes to do the photo shoots and left understanding a piece of their individual stories. Other times he would take pictures of his subjects right on the spot at construction sites, sporting events and the like.

“I think the photos each tell a story about these people’s lives and experiences,” he told The Royal Gazette. “What I was trying to do was literally go straight to the eyes, which is where you can see vulnerability and curiosity and a lot of other things.

“The main focus was to get people to look straight into the camera. I wanted the people who see these pictures to be intrigued by their faces and be able to tell something about them through their expression.”

Mr Tucker has been taking pictures since he was age 15, at which point he got his first Canon SLR digital camera.

The hobby turned serious once he decided to go to school to study the craft. He recently graduated with a degree in photo journalism from the International Center of Photography in New York City. He currently lives in London, UK.

The budding artist said he hopes to make a living as a portrait photographer shooting for magazines and online publications.

He took the photos for his upcoming debut exhibit using a German model of camera, created in the 1960s, called a Zone VI, instead of a digital camera.

That enabled him to get the clearest quality picture after they were blown up to the right size.

He said: “It’s a very methodical process of judging the focus, shutter speed and aperture. It’s a thought processing camera.”

One challenge of working with this particular camera was the amount of time — and patience from participants — it takes to get the right shot. “This kind of camera isn’t as straight forward as a digital camera,” he said. “There’s no margin for error so for all of the good shots I got there was just as many bad. Sometimes you lose the moment.”

The most rewarding part of the project was seeing the first exposures when the film was being developed.

He said he was surprised to find that some photos he thought had turned out bad, were actual visually stunning when the film was developed. Others that he thought were good weren’t quite as impressive in print.

The young photographer said the project helped him get closer to his roots as a Bermudian. The upcoming exhibition is therefore a representation of ‘his Bermuda’.

“I hope people leave the exhibit with more of an understanding of who makes up the Island,” he said. “We are all essentially here on 24 miles and we might be diverse, but there are more commonalities than differences. Obviously there are issues like economics and race that separate us, but I feel the unique diversity all around us is something special and something we can be proud of.”

Mr Tucker’s exhibit ‘Bermuda — Face to Face’ will be on display from now until after the Christmas holiday at the new POV (Point of View) Art and Project Space, located on 15 Wellbottom Road, Southampton (off of Camp Hill).

The launch event will be kicking off tomorrow from 5.30pm until 8.30pm; the gallery will be open every Tuesday- Saturday from 10am until 4pm.

Oliver Tucker, Photographer.(Photo by Akil Simmons)