Toronto photographer Felice Trinidad brings a distinctly candid documentary perspective to her portraiture and editorial work. Her subjects, usually gazing listlessly into the camera, evoke a sense of vulnerability in the way they are framed. Whether it’s a barren dimly lit hallway or a neon-soaked storefront, Trinidad places them in settings and situations that imply a certain rawness. Her aesthetic has landed her features in Noisey, Complex, HypeBae, and Polaroid Originals. We caught up with her to talk about her work, her experience in the Toronto arts community, and what she has planned next in 2019.
Describe your photographic aesthetic to us. What do you most love to shoot?
My style of photography is portraiture, and the thing I enjoy the most is capturing people in their natural environments. When I am able to let my subjects be their authentic selves, and not have them play some kind of role, it results in more genuine photos.
Your work seems to be predominantly shot on film, what kind of camera do you use and why?
Yes! I think film is beautiful and pure, and truly teaches a photographer how to work with light. Out of all the cameras I own, my favourite is my Mamiya RB67. Although it is a heavy camera and is recommended for studio-use, when I use it in the field, it slows down the process significantly, which allows me to take my time with composition. Unlike a traditional viewfinder where you look directly into the model’s eyes, with this one, you have to look down onto the screen in a sort of arched position. In doing so, it puts me in a more vulnerable state while my subject gets to be the dominant one holding the pose, and I think it adds something special to the whole shooting process.
You’ve shot for The Fader, Noisey, Complex, and Variance Mag to name a few. Walk us through how you got started in photography, and what your favourite project has been thus far.
I began my photographic journey with a series of self-portraits, in an attempt to make myself feel more comfortable in front of the camera. When I felt like my ideas could be better executed by others as the subject, I sought out my friends to be my models for practice. I then discovered Instagram which expanded my network, and am now surrounded by more creatives who inspire me. My favourite project to date is the shoot I did for The Beaches “The Professional” EP cover.
Your work tends to straddle the line between portraiture, editorial, and documentary… who are some photographers you draw inspiration from?
Thank you for saying that. My current favourite photographers are Daria Kobayashi Ritch, Driely Carter, Ron Dadon, Cailin Hill Araki, Petra Collins, and Leoor Wild. All talented women!
How has Toronto shaped the kinds of work you’re putting out?
I find Toronto amazing for the many drastically different communities with so many different subcultures, which results in neverending cool spots and a vast network of creatives. It makes me so happy to grow up with friends who don’t mind spending the day with me to wander everywhere to take photos. The creative scene here is big enough that you meet new people all the time and small enough that everyone knows, or at least has heard of, everyone.
You’ve shot quite a bit of fashion editorials, what would you say is the aesthetic or identity that is most associated with Toronto fashion right now?
I think this whole 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s trend is playing out right now in terms of fashion and themed shoots. I also love that this goth/scene kid aesthetic is coming back now — the platform heels, spiky chokers and studded oversized pants I used to get criticized for in high school have now made their way to modern fashion.
What, in your opinion, does the Toronto arts and fashion scene need most in order to become more globally influential?
Everywhere I see, people are always trying to be more “New York” or more “LA” or more “London”, “Tokyo”, etc. We are always a step behind when we ride on trends that are big in other popular cities, so I would love to see the day when Toronto invents something for themselves in terms of fashion. I also think our Fashion Week needs to be taken more seriously and can be done if people dedicate their time to crafting quality, instead of putting things out just for the sake of it.
Who are some of your favourite Toronto designers, and whose clothes would you love to shoot most?
What’s on the horizon for the rest of 2019?
Cody is a content creator at Glossi Mag.
He is a photography aficionado, masters candidate, fashion enthusiast, avid Ariana Grande fan and lover of all things aesthetically pleasing.