In his photo-series titled Native, Latvian photographer Georgs Avetisjans captures the soul of the Jamaican people and reflects on the lessons he learned from a profound and influential nation.
“Even though a majority of the Jamaican population lives in very poor conditions, I saw the spirit, happiness, meditative state and simplicity in their soul,” says Avetisjans.
Learning about the heart and soul of the destination and its people was only one part of the experience as Avetisjans soon became aware of the impact that his discoveries had on him as a photographer. They helped him reflect on the way in which humans adapt to their environment, and the personal growth and perspective we gain from experiencing life in a different world to our own.
“I learned that all of us have hopes and dreams regardless of geographical location. It's just a question of how we open our minds and how we share our soul with others. The place I come from has four seasons, located in the Northern part of Europe whereas in Jamaica it is a completely different weather condition. It's like one long season. Since I had never experienced that myself, I thought it would not have such a strong impact on my everyday life, perception, understanding and regularities, but it actually did. At the same time it's interesting how our mind and body adapts to a different location, nature and weather condition, how inspiration and colors can actually turn the vision and result in a different direction,” Avetisjans muses.
With only 2.9 million people, Jamaica’s population is humble, yet its cultural footprint is big. It is the third-most visited English-speaking country in the Americas after the United States and Canada, and the fourth-most visited country in the Caribbean.
“There are also a great number of Jamaicans living abroad and this has become known as the Jamaican diaspora,” says Avetisjans.
“Their culture and identity has a strong global presence, especially in the musical genres such as reggae, ska, mento, rocksteady, dub, dancehall and ragga, all of which originated on the island. Reggae has also influenced American rap music as they share African roots of rhythm. Internationally renowned reggae musician Bob Marley was also Jamaican. Many other internationally known artists were born in Jamaica.”
Select pieces from Avetisjans’s photo-series can be viewed below. The portraits invite us to look into the souls of the Jamaican people, yet, at the same time, their meditative eyes appear to be peering into our own.