Monthly Artist Feature (May 2022) – Orville Spence

Artist’s Name: Orville Spence

Name of Brand: Orville Spence/10.06 Photography


Artform: Photography

Country: Jamaica

Why do you do what you do?

I see myself as an artist and I have always had a need to create. I want to be one of those photographers who leaves behind an abundance of art that others will want to replicate when I am gone.

When did you realize a passion for what you do?

I always had art but this love [of] photography started after seeing a fellow Jamaican Peter Dean Rickards of “Afflicted Yard” and how his images had me seeing things differently. Brian Rosen, another famous Jamaican Photographer, who would shoot a lot of Jamaican ladies, also intrigued me. So I bought myself a point and shoot camera and began taking pictures around 2007.

In 2009, my first DSLR (Canon T1) was a loaner from a friend – Stuart Smellie of Equilibrium Photography. [I used this to start trying techniques that] my point and shoot camera couldn’t do.

I attended CARIMAC at the University of the West Indies to learn more about the Art of Photography with Mr. Moo-Young. From there, [my love for photography] kept developing. I ended up accompanying with Cham (Babycham) and his DJ on his European tour and I would shoot anything and everything.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced while trying to pursue your

The first challenge to myself was to view the craft as an artform and not simply just ‘taking pictures’. I had to then start looking at how I can be creative with the medium and work with whatever constraints I faced at any particular time.

I started off shooting flora and fauna. Going by Hope Gardens & Zoo and on road trips to increase my abilities and to try to view things from a different perspective. It didn’t always work but I kept at it.

The next challenge was finding models to work with me and since I was a beginner to the craft, that was a tall order. Most models (back then) was skeptical and so I just started reaching out to friends which lead to friends of friends and the momentum continued. I still shoot a lot of aspiring models because of this. I know what it’s like to have pros not take you seriously because you’re a beginner.

My last challenge was to learn how to see and understand light, the direction and the quality of it. Also, there’s the math and the art of lighting, the mechanics is good but the art of it is better. Finding the balance of both is part of the challenge as well.

Have you encountered people who have been skeptical about your dreams?

Yes, with any new venture, there are always nay-sayers.

How did you initially react to those people and how do you act towards them now?

I used to let it bother me and so I would practice in secret then I got over that fear of being
judged and pretty much practiced when I had any opportunity to do so. While on tour with
Cham, I would shoot things on my day off – on the street while on a walk around the town and from train and tour bus windows. Even on stage when I saw an opportunity, I would take shots of the crowd’s reaction to the artist and the music. It has made me better at my craft and ensured I wasn’t limited in my creativity.

How do you work? What is the method to your ‘madness’ and how do you filter
your creativity?

How do I explain the method to what I do. First I plan, then I plan and I plan some more. Yep, I plan a lot. When creating an idea, I plan as much of the details as possible such as: the concept, which model it is best suited for it, the location, the direction of the makeup and the lighting. So even before the shoot I can already see the final image. Sure, I do spontaneous shoots but I still feel like I have somehow planned it. Even with some clients, after capturing what they have envisioned, I still might make a few changes that I think will give the whole idea a different feel… something they never thought about.

What role do you believe “the artist” has in society? / How do you feel your artform
has the power to benefit society?

“Man cannot live by just bread alone…” My translation is that you can’t just work a 9 to5, own a big house, a fancy car and call that living, it’s not. The mind and body needs entertainment too, especially the mind.

We are not robots and while most people will try to take care of the body needs, they tend to forget the mind has it’s own set of needs to be fulfilled. Art and Artists are there to fulfill such needs. Music, Books, Sculptures, Visual Art, Dancing… all of these are beneficial to the mind and should not be overlooked.

My role as a photographer is to both document the visual (what I see) and to create images that will either provoke the sense of normal or to incite calm.

Out of all your work, which piece resonates the most with you?

The one I am about to do next! Unfortunately, I simply can’t choose from my previous work. It is a problem that will forever plague me… I create different things for different reasons and as I said, I even choose which model I want to help me create, so each shoot has it’s space.

Where do you see yourself going?

On an adventure but this time just for Photography. Years ago, my dream adventure was to tour as a DJ, playing Jamaican music in foreign places and I have done that, so now I want to do it as a photographer. This time I will focus on the places, the culture, the faces around me and models…always have to involve models.

By what terms do you measure success or perfection?

I don’t measure success by the works of others and perfection is an illusion, in other words, I just do me. I do look towards photographers from other countries to see how I can better myself. I am always trying to learn something, whether it’s something new or an improvement on what I have already done.

When do you feel like you can say that your work is finished and ready to be
experienced by others?

This is a trick question… A good one but still a trick question… I never say my work is finished, there are times I have looked back on an image I have shot and released and thought, I could do the shot differently or I could edit it better. There are works I have sat on for months before I actually released them because I wasn’t happy with my mental space at the time so I was unable to see the true imagery until later.

Now, I have learnt to look at the growth of my work and try not to worry too much once I was/am satisfied with the initial final post-production of the image.

I don’t measure success by the works of others and perfection is an illusion, in other words, I just do me

~ Orville Spence