It's amazing to us the way people view the world, especially those who capture it one still frame at a time. Such is the case with photographer Jason J. Regis as he takes us behind the lens.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity is an artistic energy inside me; it fills up and pours out into ideas which I in turn translate into photographs. Dancers, musicians, spoken word artists all harness this energy and use it to create beautiful things. I’d like to think we are all alchemists lol.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I’ll say about 40% of my creative ability comes naturally. I’m still learning how to capture certain shots in photography. Three years ago I had to get rid of the fear of using my camera in manual mode. I’m currently teaching myself certain lighting and post processing techniques but no amount of Photoshop can save a poorly composed picture. My ‘eye for photography’ is a great tool that’s in constant development.
When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
I was a shy kid growing up. From a young age I would create music videos in my head to songs I heard on the radio. I recognized I wanted to express my creativity seriously through writing poems at the age of 13. I use poetry to express how I feel. I use photography to capture the mood of others.
Yes, my creativity has been encouraged. Three Christmases’ ago my girlfriend got me a Fujifilm bridge camera. Receiving that gift made a dream of becoming a photographer feel more tangible. I started to actively look for interesting subjects to photograph when I got that camera.
What is your standard for evaluating your own creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are monetary rewards relevant to your own work?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words for a reason. A photograph should tell a story. If I feel a picture I took does not convey a story well enough I’m quick to press delete on my camera and take the shot again. I think the more I learn about photography the more analytical I have become of what makes a good photo.
I don’t think I have a standard per se when it comes to someone else’s work. I like work that makes me react. I think some pieces speak to me on a deeper level than others.
Do you think your own perception and evaluation of your creative endeavors are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you think the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
I won’t say my creative endeavours are influenced by the views of others. It’s great to get advice and I definitely feel inspired by the work of others. Trinidad alone has a lot of photographers I look up to. I’d love to have a mentor.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
Sleep lol, especially when it comes to editing. I get back to whatever I’m working on later with a rejuvenated mind and a fresh pair of eyes. It’s a tad disrespectful to take a nap on location with a client so in a situation like that sometimes all it takes is taking the photo from a different angle.
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
In documentary photography a “spark” is normally an ‘ah ha’ moment when I spot an interesting scene in real time I want to capture, usually in a small window of time, so my main attribute I possess then is a keen eye for observation and the right settings on my camera for fast shooting. So you need to be prepared. It’s the same when I’m shooting portraiture or any other style. You have to be prepared in order to leap.
Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
Special rituals? Nah, can’t say that I have any.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
I would say it has expanded more than changed. I mentioned before my affinity for writing and now I have an equal passion for photography. I have changed styles in both fields. In poetry I started off rhyming until I realized I loved the style of prose more. With photography my style changes or I should say becomes more refined every time I learn something new.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
I don't think I've made it yet. I want to switch to a full frame camera eventually. I’ll be “fasting” for a year when that happens.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
I have a close knit group of family and friends who believe in me and it’s hard to quit something that’s fulfilling.
Do you believe that it is important to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.
I think there is freedom in not needing approval for expressing yourself creatively especially if it’s taking out photos for fun like documenting family moments. Acceptance isn’t important when you are now learning photography either. If you want to have a career in photography being accepted in creative circles will definitely help. You’ll pick things up; tips and tricks being around seasoned photographers too.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Yes. I once thought a dream for working at a newspaper was coming true. I really like documentary photography, and a position of photographer had opened up. I was called in for an interview but I didn’t land the job. I questioned my abilities and was down for a while. In retrospect I think the job would have limited my time for more creative pursuits anyway.
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
Some of my older work makes me cringe. I may love the photo but editing was done poorly. There are probably pictures I am editing right now that I think look fine and would be re-edited tomorrow. Creative work can go on and on. Sometimes you have to let go and release.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
I work through doubt every time I’m shooting. That’s how I’ve gotten better. If you don’t push through you will get struck and never improve. Before almost every photo-shoot there's a bubble of nerves inside me. Nerves tend to go away once I start shooting and get in the groove of things.
What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
I got the opportunity to document Trinidadian pilgrims who attended World Youth Day (wyd) in Poland last year. WYD is an event for young people organized every three (or sometimes, two) years by the Catholic Church. I was the official photographer for the Catholic News TT. It was a big job and I pushed myself. Some of my favourite photos I’ve captured are from my time in Poland.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
To not be timid when photographing people. A lot of interesting shots are taken from up close.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Don’t worry about getting the latest gear right away, the best camera you will use is the one you have. Gear is important but not more important than learning the fundamentals in photography. I shoot with a camera that came out in 2009, glass trumps camera body in my book.
What would you most like to be remembered for?
Being an author. One book will be on photography. I don’t know the theme as yet but it will be stock full of impactful images.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
Stargazer, I like to look up at the sky at night and just think sometimes. It will be my favourite colour purple.