Videographer highlights Black culture through Jamaican lens

Videographer highlights Black culture through Jamaican lens

BY JUSTIN CHAN (In The Know)

If you take one look at Tamara Jacqueline Smith’s Instagram account, @taqueth, you’d find it hard to miss images of vibrant faces and food that litter her page. Since 2015, the 24-year-old New York City native and freelance videographer — who goes by Taqueth — has been heavily promoting her Jamaican ancestry by capturing her experience in Jamaican places that she considers “raw and unseen.”

The purpose is to not only promote Jamaican culture but to bring Black excellence to the forefront.

“Personally, I deal with food, and I deal with culture and space and events … especially in the Black community,” she told In The Know. “I’m a big person when it comes to my Black community. I’ll say it loud and proud. I’m moved by that.”

For the past five years, Smith has been meticulously recording the experiences of the Jamaican people in all their glory. In doing so, she makes it a rule to not interact with her subjects in an effort to shoot them in their natural element.

“I enjoy shooting and documenting,” she explained. “Most of my work is documentary and capturing moments rather than, you know, setting up something or setting up a scene or doing a short story. From dealing with my Instagram, I am shooting, and I’m trying my best to get into neighborhoods and into places that feel like home to me.”

A quick scan of Smith’s account reveals photos of playful children and candid street visuals. In fact, one could perhaps confuse the account itself as a play on Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York page, which regularly profiles strangers whom Stanton has come across. Smith, however, made it clear that her account has a much different purpose.
 
“Mine is very much cultural,” she said. “Although Humans of New York is cultural too because it’s dealing with New York, but New York is a broad place, and it deals with a lot of different cultures and people. I think that’s why people are gravitated to my page a lot because you come and you see one thing all the time — you’re going to see culture and you’re going to see what I’m used to.”
 
At times, Smith has strayed from shooting in Jamaica and included other places, such as Haiti and Trinidad. She said her experience in those latter two countries was, in fact, the most impactful — in Haiti, Smith was struck by the country’s strong spiritual roots and in Trinidad, she saw firsthand the devastation that came with flash floods.

“Those two have changed my life, and I’m pretty sure it changed my life because I stepped out of Jamaica and New York for a second,” she said.

Ultimately, Smith wants her audience — particularly those from the Black community — to look at her content and feel inspired.

“I really want to motivate people to see themselves as like kings and queens, like literal kings and queens, and that we’re coming from a lineage of kings and queens,” she said. “I know that I’m coming from a lineage of kings and queens. So I tried to promote that. And, in this Black History Month that’s coming up, I am going to push that even more.”

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