Duke: In Memoriam

I wasn’t old enough to know Kelvin Pope when he was in his prime as a calypsonian, winning four consecutive Calypso King crowns, but I had the opportunity to photograph him for the Guardian when he was in the renaissance of his career, the successful soca reinvention that delivered hits like “Thunder.”
He was a presence at Spektakula Forum the year that I took his picture, all stunning, well-tailored outfits and engaging raunch. He was also a finalist at that year’s Dimanche Gras, holding his own against rivals who were his juniors in every way. The photo that ran in the paper in a lineup that included Bally, Denyse Plummer and Sugar Aloes among others was a more traditional portrait, but I always loved this one.
The brim of Duke’s cap hid his eyes, but the photo was then reduced to his essentials; that unforgettable smile, stylish clothes and gleaming jewellery.

Tech stuff:
I shot these photos when I was the “colour” man for the Guardian in the early 80’s, a time when reproduction was so finicky that reproduction really demanded medium format transparencies to have any chance of creating film separations that registered properly on the press.
I would ride around (yeah, I was a biker) with a small lightstand, a Metz 45CTthat was strapped to lighting rig from Larson and connected to a Quantum Turbo battery. With this kit, I could shoot at full power into a white umbrella without worrying about recycling and exposure inconsistencies, though bracketed exposures were still a good idea.
I shot these with a Mamiya C330 on Fujichrome 50, hand processed in E6 chemistry. So yes, this was a time when you had to get the shot in six frames, each of which would cost around TT$25 in materials. Then I’d spend a few hours processing the take, three rolls at a time in Jobo tanks. Great times in a dark smelly room with stinky, poisonous chemistry. How I don’t miss it.
blog comments powered by Disqus