Vintage photography evokes nostalgia because it represents time past: moments from history that give the appearance of a simpler life. Models pose, freezing both time and their smiles because back then, there was no such thing as an 'instant' picture. But the innocence and simplicity of these grainy images belie the very complicated technical processes photographer's required to capture the likeness of their subjects. A knowledge of chemicals, an understanding of light and a discerning eye were just a few of the essential skills. It was this combination of art form and science that helped to define places like the colonial Caribbean when photography was first invented after the 1840s, and it should not be surprising that promotion of this 'new world' to audiences in Europe meant that the technology of photography has flourished here since then.
A recent exhibition mounted at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination Gallery, the Queens Park Gallery and Zemicon Gallery in Barbados and curated by C. M. Harclyde Walcott featured the photography of seven of that country's most important artists and speaks to the island's long association with this medium. Titled Seven Photographers, the exhibition (that closed recently) showcased the works of Willie Alleyne, Gordon Brooks, Ronnie Carrington, Felix Kerr, Cyprian La Touché (Jr.) Cecil Marshall and Percé Tappin. For those who missed the show, a publication that lavishly documents their photographs was designed to accompany the show. It is a handsome and generous catalogue of the exhibition that can obviously stand alone as a book and fill a gap in documentation of that art form in Barbados.