WM: What’s your process like when you’re shooting in the Caribbean?
GT: Years ago, I started off walking around and shooting with a snapshot camera—palm trees, beaches, and that type of stuff. All very banal things. I’m not an essayist; I’m more of a hunter. I know what I’m looking for before I head out to shoot. That’s mainly due to the fact that for most of the year I am not in the place where I am making this work. I do lots of planning while I’m away from the island. I daydream about the images I could make. I make keywords for myself. I write all these images down in my notebook. For example, the still life with the sticks on the beach—I dreamt of that image for years. I wanted to make it so bad. Some of the portraits are more planned, I knew I wanted couples as the male female dynamic is something I’m very interested in. There’s this photo of a man with a hat hugging his girlfriend. He’s an employee at my father’s company in St. Martin. My father told me he has seven children with different women. I wanted to meet him since I was researching the stereotype. However, I quickly realized that it would only add to the stereotype if I photographed him with all his ex-girlfriends.
WM: So, what’s next? Have you moved on from Big Papi since the book came out?
GT: While I was interning with Stefan Ruiz in 2015, we went out to lunch with Dana Lixenberg one day and she was talking about her Imperial Courts project. She had been worked on it for 23 years! That stuck with me. When I finished the book, I was thinking about how I’d barely scratched the surface. There’s so much more to do. I’m not actually finished with Big Papi. I want to dissect the themes in the project even further, as their own projects. I’ve been talking about Big Papi for so long.
WM: Yes, you’re probably ready to talk about something else.
GT: Yes, but I am also glad to talk about it because I feel that the Caribbean has to be represented by people from the Caribbean. Ask anyone to name a few Caribbean photographers. I don’t think they could name more than two. There’s Kevin Osepa, who is making amazing work about religion, the African diaspora, and family. But I don’t know anyone else making work about the Caribbean, from there or not. I feel that this is something I have to do.