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Tropic Light

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Blake Fox and I'm an artist and art educator. Like many artists, I started drawing and painting at first, but photography feels like home to me now. I currently use a Nikon D5000 and an iPhone. Sometimes I write about art too.

Where are you and what are you doing right now?
I’m sitting at my desk at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) where I’m the Education & Administrative Assistant. I just started in April and it’s been good to meld two important aspects of my world—art and education.

Your photos have a biopic feel, sort of like a chronical of where you live, how important is the Bahamas to your work?
I think I would agree with that. I tend to take a documentary approach with my work and my environment has a significant impact on my work. I definitely have a special connection to nature. I grew up on Long Island, which is a small island in The Bahamas that has a population of around 2,500 people. As you maybe can imagine, there’s not a huge social life to be had there, so beaching, boating, and nature exploration are all a part of who I am today. There is also a certain solitude about living in such a remote place for a long period of time. I think there’s a sense of isolation that can be seen throughout my work.

Many of your photos have a tension and feel like they have a hidden narrative. Do you capture images quickly or spend a lot of time setting them up?
My photography is almost completely spontaneous. I’ll have an idea of where I want to go to take photos, but the environment leads me once I’m actually there. I spend a lot of time looking, seeing, and pondering. My gaze is drawn to the quieter moments that may be overlooked in a big environment. What I choose to crop out says just as much as what I choose to focus on.

We looked through hundreds of photos before we found yours and then just couldn't look beyond it. It’s simple, but really captures a feeling of tranquillity yet has a fresh energy. Can you tell us a little bit about the moment the photo was taken?
It was a Sunday and my family and I were about to have lunch at this restaurant on the water. There’s something about the tropic light that is just bright and crisp. It makes for clean and distinct shadows which lends itself to graphic images like this one.

Once we had fallen in love with your photo, you were then a very tricky man to find because you had stopped posting photos for a couple of years. You've now started again, what prompted the hiatus and the welcome return?
I had moved to Nassau from Long Island and I didn’t know where to go to take photos. I had also started school again and it was hard to find the time to take photos. I guess that’s the surface answer. Even deeper than that, sometimes as an artist it’s hard to find the motivation to make work—whether it’s a fear of failure or criticism, a lack of confidence, insecurity, uncertainty. Those things are hard to juggle and can make you feel inadequate. I was still taking photos here and there, just not posting them. It wasn’t enough to just take photos, so I just made the decision to start showing them again. Just putting my work out there again is empowering and boosts my confidence. I am looking forward to sharing more.

Who or what are your influences?
I have this list of artists that I started years ago and I just add to it when I find someone new. Not every one of them directly influences me, but some of my favorite Bahamian artists are Tessa Whitehead, Heino Schmid, Kendal Hanna, and Melissa Alcena.

Two of the most influential photographers for me are Wolfgang TIllmans and Viviane Sassen. I’m also really into new and emerging photographers. I like how culturally relative the work is. Some photographers that I have virtually met through Instagram and were instrumental for me when I was just getting into photography are: @seanlemoine @maryavocado @cassidy_araiza @gilleamtrapenburg @thisisnow_here @adelezubrzycka
I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but those names stick out for me right now.

My boyfriend’s hard work inspires me to be better. He also recently surprised me with a photobook Neue Welt by Tillmans and I’m enjoying that.

Any recommendations of photographers, artists we should be looking out for at the moment?
I’ll recommend an artist that someone recommended to me today: Tessa Mars.

Tell us about something
I like to challenge the notion of what’s beautiful. Being an artist in The Bahamas, there’s often the expectation that work should be traditionally beautiful—picturesque, bright, colourful. I try to show my environment in a less quixotic way that feels more genuine to my experience.

Tell us about nothing 
I’ll sometimes take ten photos that are exactly the same—just for good measure.

I’m into striped and patterned shirts.

I have over 18,000 photos on my iPhone.

I prefer to text rather than talk on the phone.

My phone is always on silent mode.

I will eat a whole box of Cheez-Its in one sitting.

I test layouts and sequencing before posting to Instagram.

I have a bit of a rebellious streak.

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