Amber Pinkerton Interview #4

Social media and Bruce Weber’s campaign for Ralph Lauren sparked Amber Pinkerton’s fascination with fashion photography. The 23-year-old grew up in Jamaica, surrounded by friends using platforms such as Facebook and Tumbler to form creative bubbles and showcase DIY fashion shoots. Using a Blackberry smartphone, Pinkerton followed suit with ‘Pink Photography’, her first photography page on Facebook. Since moving to London at 19, Pinkerton has gained attention for her work, which subtly traverses both fashion and documentary styles. Tackling issues such as classism and colourism in Jamaica, Pinkerton acknowledges her move to London as central to appreciating her identity. Through her socio-politically driven images, she aims to share the perspectives of her subjects as well as her own. 

I read that you come from a creative family. Would you say your upbringing has influenced your artistic vision?   

Growing up I watched my uncle paint houses, my siblings draw, and my mother create outdoor designs for our home. This led to several artistic curiosities from an early age such as ceramics,  painting, drawing and mixed media.  

I definitely inherited my mother’s passion for fashion: I took it upon myself to create the coolest outfits every weekend when I was out of my school uniform. It was a small window/ time frame to express myself and make a statement. I think both of these influences fused and propelled my interest in fashion photography. 

When did you first become interested in photography? 

My interest in fashion photography stemmed from the birth of social media. All of my friends were taking cool self-portraits on platforms such as Facebook and Tumblr, creating their own photography pages (it was a  trend for us at the time in our little world). I started by taking very eccentric self-portraits, playing with editing software as well as outlandish outfits. After a while, I started my own photography page on Facebook, which was called ‘Pink. Photography’ (lol). I started photographing on a  Blackberry smartphone, dressing up my friends/associates in a mixture of my mother and father’s wardrobes, but if I had to think of a distinct moment, it was after I saw a Ralph Lauren campaign by Bruce Weber.

At 19 you moved to London to study filmmaking, how did you find this transition, both creatively and culturally? 

Creatively I was extremely over the moon to be in London. In Jamaica, I was definitely an “odd one”: dressing “strangely” in public with a completely different aesthetic. Moving to London was a breath of fresh air because I was finally around people who were also different, which I found comforting.  Culturally I would say I was quite naive in my first few years and was also living on very little money so I didn’t really get to experience or see much the city had to offer until later on, which was a big eye-opener.

You examine the realities of classism and colourism within Caribbean society. Is this something you have always explored in your work? 

I think my early works screamed privilege and naivety, but once I moved and experienced a different social context in London I began to examine the local context in Jamaica where I would analyse and explore these topics. I definitely intend to continue my exploration in the socio-political arena. 

Do you aim to use your work to educate on the socio-political imbalances you examine?  

The purpose of my work is not always to educate but to share new perspectives/points of view from the subjects and myself. Through doing this it definitely pin-points back to these imbalances and encourages us to engage in discussion.

I understand you are keen to teach photography workshops in Jamaica. Can you tell me more about this?   

At the moment, a friend and I have this idea of creating one of the first creative spaces in Jamaica  for photography— books, workshops, talks, printing etc., but it will take sponsorship/funding which we do not have. I think it is something that is really lacking on the island, but we will get it done in due time!

Are you working on anything at the moment?   

I’m working on commercial/editorial commissions and the conceptualisation stage for my exhibition next year with the Alice Black Gallery.

What does Jamaica represent for you?   

Jamaica represents culture, warmth and life to me— it’s a place of fulfilment and true wholesome living. 

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