Photos by Colin Williams—
Short Folio is a recurring column album we’ve developed here at LargeUp to promote positive cultural exchange by engaging great photographers to share their visions of the Caribbean. As part of our week-long preview of the madness ahead at Trinidad Carnival we reached out to Trinidad-born, NYC-based photographer Colin Williams. Well known in the New York area Trinidadian community for his “The Last Soulboy” events (a nickname he picked up as a member of the band, The Soul Boys), Colin has shot for the New York Times, MTV, Vibe, Ocean Style (where he was creative director) and for clients such as Apple, Nike, Lancome, Angostura, and the tourism boards of Barbados and Antigua.
In 2007 and 2008 he returned home to Trinidad and Tobago to document Carnival. Read on for Colin’s perspectives on photography, Carnival and the Caribbean, and click here to view Colin’s Short Folio series.
LargeUp: What inspires you?
Colin Williams: I inspire me. My family inspires me. I look at my girls and that’s all I need.
LU: How would you like to see the Caribbean portrayed?
CW: I would like to see the Caribbean portrayed as more than a playground. I want the world to see the Caribbean the way I see it. We have people from the Caribbean who have contributed to the world, but most people only know the Caribbean as sun and sand. A place to get wild if you’re young or a place to chill when you get old. It’s not a bad thing but we have contributed much more than you read about and I want my work to display it.
LU: Why is documenting carnival important and what do you feel makes it special?
CW: What I believe makes my pictures special is that I will go where no other right thinking photographer would go to get the picture. After you hear the stories from the locals about the danger of walking the streets at 3AM in the morning with a $4000 camera unescorted, I still get out there. I think personally that’s what makes my pictures special. My willingness to be in with the people and be a part of capturing their reality in a photograph.
LU: Are you able to see it all anew when returning year after year as a true-born Trini?
CW: If there is one thing we Trini’s do it’s fete. It’s almost like a religion. Many of us take going to Carnival as a pilgrimage and that’s what we look forward to. For those of us that live in the north east in the Americas, Carnival comes at the right time to get a break from the Winter.
The only thing that is truly new is the kiddies Carnival, the next generation. They will carry the torch and I think that’s very important.
LU: In this series we seee revelers before dawn during Jouvert, the costumed bands playing mas, and some more traditional, elder figures. Take us through this progression, as seen through your camera.
CW: What you see is the traditional progression of Carnival. I don’t dictate the mood, the vibes, nor the timing. I keep it real. There is a long standing structure to the Carnival that makes the Trini Carnival remain special.