It was a pining twenty-four months for Jamaican-blooded, Belgian resident and visual artist Tina Lewis Herbots.
She was eager to return to the Caribbean embrace of her grandmother who lives in Linstead, St Catherine.
But, the pandemic had thrown a wrench in what had become a routine biennial vacation itinerary.
‘COVID interrupted my travels, and it had been quite some time since I had seen my grandma, so making the trip to Jamaica in September was very special to me,’ Lewis Herbots told Loop News in a telephone interview; she returned to Belgium a week ago.
Heartened by the overdue reconnection with her beloved grandparent, the artists’ recent two-week island vacation was manifold, not intended solely for familial purposes and leisure, but also for creative output.
She’d stumbled upon Saint International’s Instagram account while in Europe, was impressed by the models, and was prompted to contact the agency’s head honcho Deiwght Peters.
‘I immediately knew I wanted to work with Saint and Deiwght, as it was a most-respected agency that gave opportunities for Caribbean beauties to be discovered in the high fashion industry,’ she raved.
She later revealed that she forwarded her portfolio to him with a request to shoot his stable of newer models.
The Jamaican-Belgian, who adeptly balances being a music photog shooting in European concert halls with working as a part-time editorial and commercial model, is a graduate of the LUCA School of Arts in Brussels, where she studied audio-visual arts.
‘Photography stays my main focus but practising modelling as well teaches me a lot on how to communicate with models when taking photos. So the combination works very well for me,’ she rationalised.
For her island-centric collaborative project with Saint, Lewis Herbots lensed 19 of the agency’s models at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel over a three-day period.
‘It was pretty intense but I loved every minute of it,’ she reminisced of the shoot.
‘The most important thing for me was making them feel at ease, and nowadays the best models are the ones who stay true to their personalities and let their inner selves shine through, and this is what I always try to capture: a straightforward style.’
Her work assignment also brought unexpected bonding, ‘Every single one of the models was so kind’.
‘I’ve been to Jamaica quite a few times but it was the first occasion that I had the chance to meet Jamaicans that are not my family.’
‘I connected with most of them on Instagram and hope to see them again next time when I come to the island or when they travel to Europe for work,’ Lewis Herbots shared with Loop News.
Speaking on what he deemed as ‘a very satisfactory conceptual partnership’ between him and the visual artist, Deiwght Peters said he was keen on moving forward with future collaborations.
‘Tina’s exceptional eye communicates visual poetry in an honest way, and she is amazing in developing relations with her subjects, and the Saints adored working with her.’
‘She has a promising future ahead,’ Peters added.