Welcome to our ‘Behind Their Lens’ series.
This project delves into creative takes from visiting photographers, representing the Turks and Caicos Islands. First up is Renise Peters, a photographer with undeniable talent who ventures into the daunting realm of drone photography.
Renise’s earliest entry to the TCI was as a child back in 1999 in Grand Turk when her mom was a teacher on the island. She left and returned to the TCI as an adult with a BA in Communication and Media Studies under her belt in 2017. Once settled, Renise found that the Turks and Caicos Islands was still rooted in heritage. She shared that watching the Island Boys playing at Fish Fry was something that inspired her work.
Human Expression drives her photography.
“In the first year I was back , I remember being in Grand Turk and how much I loved Rake and Scrape music. It was so refreshing to come back and see that. Like OK, they still have that alive and going and so it was exciting for me to capture that.” Renise tells WAVES. “Also, that particular guy playing the ripsaw. It was just like, “Look at his expression, how happy he looks! That’s what I’m looking for! People expressing themselves for who they are.”
Renise’s keen eye for expression, tailored over 11 years paired with the great outdoors has kickstarted her career in the portrait industry as a destination wedding and portrait photographer.
Publications such as The Guardian, Passion Passport, Turks and Caicos Magazine, Discover Turks and Caicos, and How They Asked (by The Knot) have featured her work.
When asked about her eye and how she got her start in photography, she attributes it to observing the natural world around her.
“I’ve always been into like outdoors and nature and so like before I even picked up the camera. I was always the observant girl looking at the bees looking at the flowers, looking at the mountains, that kind of stuff, right?”.
While she started shooting with a regular camera in high school as a means of recreation and self-expression; she only started drone photography in October 2020. Aerial photography was a solution for ‘figuring out what to shoot’.
“Lord knows, for a good while now, like a couple of years now, I’ve been saying I need to get a drone- I should start flying- I should start learning but you know the nervousness of trying something new that was there. Of course, the cost of getting a drone and what if you crash it and da da da da da? So, I hesitated for a bit.”. She says, “That’s one of the reasons why I finally picked up the drone. Until I got the drone last year, I didn’t shoot anything personal like not a thing because I just got to a standstill. And it was a mixture of not knowing or not feeling like I was seeing what I wanted to shoot and being tired of [seeing] the same perspective over and over.”
When the global pandemic shut down the world last year, Renise had to get creative.
She previously relied on escaping in travel and capturing the places she visited. This would lead to surges of content, but remaining stagnant in the TCI meant she had to find new muses.
“It was a mixture of [telling herself] ‘Renise, there must be stuff here to photograph and then of course, when the quarantine hit like yeah, you’re stuck here, you must find ways, you can’t travel every day and you can’t keep up the expectation of having to travel in order to produce stuff.”
For Peters, her creative journey is methodical, intricate and about taking everything step by step.
“Now that I’m coming out of that [resting], it’s like OK, what do I shoot next? Like, I don’t know, I don’t have the answer like what kind of approach do I want? Do I want a more – artistic something? Or do I want to focus more on nature or do I want to keep on doing portraits? At this point, it’s just a process of exploration and discovery. I want to showcase these islands for sure, and I love nature.”
“That’s always going to be in my work, but it’s the figuring out the approach that I want to take next, and it’s probably not going to be just one thing that I stick to, but more in terms of projects like, let’s say, for example, maybe I take a month to just focus on portraits of people in the sands. Then maybe I take another month to just focus on waves specifically. Going little by little and figuring it out one step at a time, yeah?”.