Yannick Reid entertains photography
Behind every successful artiste is a hardworking and dedicated staff assisting to bring the dream to life. Reggae singer, songwriter and producer Protoje promotes unity and social change, vibrantly packaged in a uniquely authentic ‘roots meets urban’ style. One person playing his part in capturing the heart of Protoje’s music, giving insight for the entire world to see, is his photographer, cinematographer and creative director Yannick Reid.
Reid’s love for both music and portraiture, found harmony and has since created a symphony for success.
“I love the feeling of taking a photo of someone, then they see it and feel good about themselves. And I love being able to contribute in my own way to documenting local culture and local history. That’s how I feel about photography: it’s not just about creating a good photo, but producing pictures that tell our story as a people and a culture. And that will serve as information and a reference point for years to come.”
We go behind the scenes to discover more about Reid’s rise in music and lifestyle photography.
As an only child, Reid spent a great deal of his formative years imagining and creating his own world. He told Beyond The Lens, that even though he didn’t understand what an artistic career was, he watched a lot of cartoons and anime, enjoyed drawing his favourite characters or imagining different scenarios. His istart in photography is a different story.
The young photographer attributes his snapping success to the solid foundation provided by his father, a professional photographer in the field of public relations and sports.
“He was the first to put a camera in my hand and he gave me my first camera. He also taught me a lot of foundational concepts and principles about photography as well as how to carry myself as a photographer,” he said. The most notable event his father ever took him to while he was in high school was Reggae Sumfest. That is where Reid developed his passion for concerts and live-music photography independently. “He was responsible for everything in terms of my beginnings in photography,” he added.
Shortly after completing his bachelor’s degree in visual arts from the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, he decided to switch gears and pursue photography professionally. While his major in visual communication, the art school’s way of defining graphic design and illustration, was fun, he would be confined for hours indoors to a desk at a computer, interfacing with clients.
He enjoyed the process of photography more, a clicking practice that he had incorporated in his work from high school up until that point in time. Allowing him the freedom to explore, be in the great outdoors, be social in meeting, photographing and interacting with people was something Reid yearned for. “It was easier to sell my services as a photographer rather than a graphic designer. Graphic design is a little bit more tedious process working with clients so there is a lot that you put at risk in that field and I was just earning more income in photography so I decided to pursue that,” he said.
With over a decade of experience in the field, Reid prides himself in telling a story with each frame and making each picture memorable. His favourite part: pulling out the camera, looking through, composing and clicking. Being present mentally helps in relieving stress. He lives for the editing aspect as well, and gets excited at the possibility of how the photo will turn out in the end.
The desire to be paid fairly is an obstacle he faces in the industry: the never ending debate to calculate. It can become tiresome for the flashing artist, doing the dance of having payment discussions. Fortunately, it has improved over the years because he has been able to identify people who are serious about his work, and are fair in compensation.
“The business is becoming saturated and while more jobs are available, you have to do a lot of work to stand out and maintain clientele so your career can be sustainable,” he revealed.
He is motivated by independence and gives himself the freedom to set his schedule and work accordingly. He made special mention of his father who embodies his goals, “He has built his entire life on photography and he lives fairly well. That is very inspiring because if I can achieve just a third of what he has done, I will be happy with my life.”
He also listed Nicky Kane and Matthew McCarthy as other creatives living off their passions that give him the energy to keep going.
It was because of McCarthy’s recommendation that Reid was able to join the Protoje team. Moving away from video to murals, McCarthy suggests Reid whom Protoje had seen in videoing action at his art show. Since then, Reid upgraded from videographer to Protoje’s creative director, touring the world with the artiste.
“Even though he is my client and my boss, he is a really good friend to me. Where he can further my career, he does it and in working for him, I ensure that I’m always educated enough to provide him with the best creative options to be leading the charge in creative output and nurturing his brand. It has been a really good experience and I’m forever grateful to him.”
Being able to shoot the next generations and work with these talents has been very exciting. But meeting and working with one of his idols, Jay Z, was surreal to him.
With hopes of dropping his book next year, his advice to aspiring photographers not knowing where to start is to pick up a good camera phone or an inexpensive camera, learning by trial and error, and educating yourself in the process.