By Kemol King
Many have lamented that the support network for young creatives seeking to build a career off their talents in Guyana, is almost non-existent.
However, the most determined of that group will stop at nothing to ensure that they’re not sidetracked by a world that demands them to take up STEM careers for relevancy. Take Ken Bacchus, for instance.
At 17, with no formal training, Bacchus is already a skilled, young photographer who has garnered a commendable following on multiple social media platforms. His goal is to be able to make a life out of photography and graphic design.
“As a child, I’ve always had a talent for the arts,” Bacchus told Kaieteur News.
But he did not allow himself to focus exclusively on that interest until a year and a half ago. Before photography, “because of the stigma that surrounds the arts and careers in them, in this country,” his family urged him to go into the science stream in secondary school. Bacchus said that he performed well, because he had always been good at science-related subjects. At the time, his career choice was dermatology, because he didn’t have perfect skin, and he wanted to help anyone with the same problem.
However, halfway through secondary school, Bacchus found himself being inspired by famous artists like Walt Disney, whose cartoons revolutionized the global industry for animators.
“I wasn’t going to be one of those persons that regretted doing what they’re passionate about. I decided I wanted to be a man who went after his dreams, and so that I could be an inspiration to my children and grandchildren.”
So, how does a 17-year-old boy with no formal training in photography produce such great work? He takes the same approach many youths do: “Everything I’ve learnt was from consistently watching YouTube videos daily. I am self-taught but not above asking anyone for help when I know I need it.”
Bacchus said that there are other Guyanese photographers whose work he admires, and whom he looks up to: Taariq Clarke, Keno George, Keon Hector and Brian Gomes. He said that he didn’t think photography was something he could make a career out of until he saw Clarke’s work.
“At the time, in terms of photography, [Clarke]’s name was all over the place and I was so inspired to see him doing such great work.”
So far, Bacchus has gotten three paid gigs, where persons have asked him to be their photographer, including a birthday party.
Bacchus said that he tends to do a lot of macro-photography and portrait photography.
“Most of the time, it’s always something small that I bring to life.” He explains that that kind of photography is of particular interest to him because “it’s so amazing that you can make something so small look so much more than it is. You wouldn’t think that something that looks so mediocre could be given so much life.”
Asked why macro-photography is a fixation of his, he said, “I think it says I’m able to bring the simple things to life, and I’m able to challenge myself by doing my best work under restricted circumstances.”
These days, he has been doing a lot of practice indoors in low light situations, because he thinks that taking photos in such settings is a skill that he needs to polish.
Asked how he feels about the support network for young creatives, Bacchus said, “It’s really lacking. We, as artists, don’t get enough support and I think that’s because we’re never really taken seriously. Sometimes, I’m hesitant to tell someone that my main profession is photography because I know their next question will be ‘… Yeah, but what’s your real job?’”
Despite the uphill climb, Bacchus remains committed to his art, and hopes that more young creatives would be truer to themselves, instead of allowing society to sway them away from their passion.
“They shouldn’t let anyone hold them back from what they’re truly passionate about, because if your dream isn’t worth fighting for, then nothing is.”
Bacchus’ work could be seen on his Facebook page and Instagram blog, both titled Ken Bacchus Photography.
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