Gerald Marie-Nelly, known as Mister Geez, is a visual artist originally from Martinique and now based in London for the past 15 years. His artistic journey, deeply intertwined with personal experiences, unfolds as a narrative of unexpected turns, transformative moments, and the power of visual storytelling.
His venture into photography was catalyzed unexpectedly in 2011 when the passing of his mother marked a poignant turning point. During the preparations for her funeral, a series of autopsies mandated keeping the coffin closed during the wake. Determined to honor her memory, he embarked on a quest to find a photograph encapsulating her beauty and personality. What began as a brief search unfolded into a six-hour journey, unveiling the profound power of photography. Since that pivotal day, photography has been his means of seizing light and immortalizing moments, guiding him from a dark place to a newfound appreciation for the inherent beauty that surrounds us.
His foray into street photography wasn’t a predestined path but rather a series of serendipitous events. Exploring various photography styles, it was the impactful works of W. Eugene Smith and Sebastião Salgado that resonated deeply, leading him to venture into documentary photography. In 2016, he embarked on his inaugural photo documentary project in Haiti, “The Ahadepa Project,” collaborating with a London-based charity.
Life’s course, coupled with a shortage of opportunities, redirected his focus towards capturing the essence of his beloved London, his second home.
A pivotal chapter in his artistic journey unfolded during a two-year commitment from 2018 to 2020 as a volunteer for the charity Crisis, dedicated to addressing homelessness in the United Kingdom. Serving as a photography assistant in the art department, he engaged with members navigating the challenges of securing accommodations and employment.
Under the guidance of Jeff Hubbard, the focal point of the weekly photography class was street photography. The structured routine, covering theory, practical application, and post-production, became a cornerstone in shaping his artistic practice. He gleaned insights from Jeff, who eventually became his mentor, and equally significant were the lessons absorbed from the diverse group of students, each contributing knowledge from various walks of life.
To this day, he adheres to the regimen established during his tenure at Crisis, integrating these invaluable lessons into his artistic exploration. This experience enriched his understanding of street photography and instilled a disciplined approach that influences his creative process.
His latest project, “Inner Child Playground,” is the inaugural volume of the London Street Chronicles series. Featuring black and white photographs capturing the charm and joy of London’s streets between 2015 and 2022, each image serves as a testament to his personal journey, unveiling hidden gems in everyday life.
“Inner Child Playground” transcends the conventional boundaries of a book; it is a visual narrative inviting the viewer to rediscover a sense of wonder. As one flips through its pages, they are reminded that beauty resides in the simplest moments, waiting to be uncovered amidst the bustling urban landscape of London or any other city.
The methodology behind this project involves a blend of intention and serendipity. Some images were captured during planned outings, while others emerged unexpectedly as he roamed the streets with an open mind and heart. London’s streets, with their unique charm, inspired him to seek out moments that align with the theme of reconnecting with one’s inner child.
Regarding equipment, simplicity is key. His go-to choices include the Fujifilm X100V for routine street photography and the Fujifilm X-T3 with a zoom lens for events requiring coverage of crowds. Ergonomics became a decisive factor for him, as he needs to navigate buttons seamlessly without fiddling in menus, utilizing a tilt screen for flexibility in composing angles.
In terms of process, routine is his ally. After each outing, meticulous editing and archiving lay the groundwork for future projects. Since 2021, exploration into alternative processes like platinum/palladium and cyanotypes has enriched his repertoire, producing analog prints for exhibitions. [Official Website]