Janick Gilpin is a published freelance travel and documentary photographer who specialises in environmental portraits. Born in the Cayman Islands and raised in Jamaica, he currently lives in New York. Janick considers himself a global citizen and has travelled extensively documenting people in their natural environment.
With this picture series, he documents Black Lives Matter protests in Harlem to create awareness and give back to the communities of colour.
What are your thoughts on the recent events that led up to the current Black Lives Matter protests?
As a Black man living in America, it was horrific viewing the video of George Floyd losing his life for an alleged fake $20 bill, Ahmaud Arbery brutally killed while out jogging, and Amy Cooper calling 911 on a Black man in Central Park and falsely emphasizing that there is an African American threatening her life. While incidents like these are not new in the United States or globally, they have become more evident given the abundance of smart phones and social media platforms. Since then, numerous Non-Black colleagues and friends have reached out to check-in on me. I’ve also participated in formal sessions to create awareness around systemic inequalities and racism in our country.
The United States has come a long way with regard to equality, but there’s still a lot that needs to change, and I believe this current movement will move the needle incrementally further. I’m very proud of the diverse set of young people out there consistently protesting nationwide and globally. So far, there have been isolated state legislations enacted that should create law enforcement transparency, but a lot still needs to be done federally and at the state level to address the systemic inequalities primarily impacting communities of color.
I’m optimistic about the incremental changes and awareness as a result of the current movement. I will hold myself accountable to also do a better job creating awareness with my photography and giving back to the communities of color with my time and resources.
What was the energy of the protests in Harlem like, and what’s the goal for this project?
The energy of the protests in Harlem was amazing and still my favorite Black Lives Matter protest since I started documenting the movement on May 29th. Harlem has rich African American history and it was very important for me to support and document the movement. The goal of that project was to capture the diversity, pride, and emotions of the spectators.
Do you remember what made you pick up a camera and start shooting pictures?
My trip to Tanzania back in 2018 made me finally decide to purchase a camera. After years of using my mobile phone to take photos, I realized its limitations while on safaris, hiking on Kilimanjaro, scuba diving and roaming the night markets on Zanzibar Island.
While I was able to capture some great photos, I could have done a lot better with my current equipment setup. A couple of months after the trip I purchased a mirrorless camera and started a new Instagram account, which has now evolved into @VisualsbyJanick.
How do you spend your time outside of photography?
Besides family and friends, photography is my therapist, and it’s what consumes my downtime. Especially editing on my mobile phone. When I’m not roaming the streets of NYC or some unfamiliar foreign country, I’m inundated by my Corporate Risk Management role at a financial institution based in New York.
Where do you draw your photography inspiration from?
My photography is inspired by documentary, street and fashion photography books, art museums and galleries, and people whom I find interesting roaming the streets shooting.
What’s next for Janick?
Continue to consume various mediums of art, create additional personal projects, and collaborate with other creatives. I also have many short-term goals, including publishing my personal photo projects, securing assignments for publication, and creating content for tourism board globally once it’s safe to travel again.