Mon | Jan 25, 2021

Falling in Love with Contrax Creative Studios

Published:Sunday | November 24, 2019 | 12:00 AMKrysta Anderson - Gleaner Writer
Beyond the Lens goes up close and personal with CEO of Contrax Photos, Oneilia Bryan.

“I remember the first camera that I got. It was a dinosaur. I was so disappointed because I couldn’t even do videography, and that’s what I wanted to do. But I was encouraged to just take photos until I could afford the camera I wanted. I fell in love with photography.” Photographer Oneilia Bryan goes into more colourful depth about her quest to Contrax Creative Studios in this week’s Beyond the Lens.

She took Outlook back to when it all began.

Once upon a time, an enthusiastic young woman received an old camera from a family friend after he recognised her talent. She was bursting at the seams with excitement, until she realised it only possessed the capabilities to capture images and not the abilities to shoot videos. Devastated, defeated and hopeless, she never considered the possibilities of photography, but she was motivated by her significant other to make use of the camera’s functions until she was able to make the upgrade. She gave it a try, and the rest is photographic history. Even though she never set sights on ‘camera mode’, she can attest to the fact that she was always creative.

Growing up in Duhaney Park was a fun experience, Bryan said. The youngest of two sisters and two brothers, they all prided themselves in making their two hard-working parents proud. Unable to afford the luxuries or toys and technology compelled her to nurture and be inspired by her imagination, as well as put her creativity to pragmatic use. She saw beauty and possibilities in things others wouldn’t.

“My childhood consisted of me bringing life to lifeless objects. I was a tomboy, always hanging with boys and riding my bicycle around the community. Being brought up in the fear of the Lord, also provided a solid foundation for me.”

She carried her storytelling traits into adulthood, and became obsessed with snapping pictures of just about everything. The transition from passion to profession came through the influence of others seeking her expertise. “Other persons wanted me to help them tell their stories and capture their memories. Also, I’m very business minded. I saw the acquisition of my new-found talent an opportunity to grow and expand my company, Contrax Creative Studios,” she added.

‘Contrax’ in Contrax Creative Studios, represents an alternative from the mundane. And the Creative Studios was chosen in order to broaden the creative offerings of her company, if not now, then for the future – it, she says, promotes future expansion and growth.

One year into the field of photography, she is still exploring her area of expertise. She, however, could not deny her love for portrait sessions, capturing and using people to tell joyful, stimulating, and thought-provoking tales.

“Like writing poems without words, photography is beautiful. My photography is a part of me, it’s my way of letting others into my space, my mind, and my heart,” she said.

She aspires to express her ideas and passion through her art, and while she isn’t intentionally trying to be mysterious, she is deliberate in her growth and development, and in providing the very best quality work. “I am someone who puts her all in whatever task is at hand. When I commit to doing something, I do it well and to the best of my ability. I ensure that I am capable and by natural effect, I inspire others.”

The road of entrepreneurship has taught the businesswoman various lessons. She has focused on not taking anything personal – receiving criticism, constructive or otherwise, comes with the territory. Being in it for the long haul was another point she highlighted – during the good, the bad, and the ugly, she has wanted to quit but she remained determined to build her dream and make it a profitable reality. And last, entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart – you have to learn to value and your work – if value doesn’t start from the self, then nothing else will follow suit.

“Photography constantly forces me out of my comfort zone and pushes my limit on creativity. I am really grateful for the chance to do what I love everyday. It has been a bed of roses, however, many persons forget that roses have thorns. I’ve learnt some hard lessons dealing with different clients, handling payments, or even with purchasing the right equipment. At the end of the day, all lessons have helped to build me into a better photographer.”

She also admitted that she no longer believes in just taking photos for photos sake. Whatever she decides to capture must have a deeper personal meaning to her or to her client(s). Motivated by the power she holds in her hands when she takes up her camera, photography is an avenue to world where persons can find peace and solitude.

“As a photographer, I am the eyes of the world, telling timeless stories...I am constantly motivated by the fact that I have the power to display the beauty and mayhem that surrounds us, to call your attention to things we tend to ignore or miss.”

Being a young female in any industry, she revealed, may highlight underestimation on the part of people outside of the industry, rather than her fellow photographers. But she takes it as an opportunity for change instead of an insult.

“Being the black sheep has put me in the driver’s seat. I wow my clients with my skills and knowledge. Honestly, the male dominance really doesn’t matter to me. Male or female, I see us all as creators, who should unite to build the photography industry in Jamaica. And I hope we all understand that creativity is not a competition.”

Bryan has a special place in her heart for the ‘first timers’ - the clients who trusted her to capture their significant moments before she even had any portfolio to show. She will forever be grateful for the opportunities afforded to her following that first maternity shoot, calendar shoot, corporate headshot, wedding, portrait session, or engagement.

Contrax Creative Studios, also focuses on graphic design, because Bryan understands the importance of branding and eye catching visual imagery. Her advice to upcoming photographers is to start, take that leap, just believe and create.

You can fall in love with more of Bryan’s work on her website: or follow her on Instagram: @contraxphotography.