- Lisa van de Geyn
Shutterbug: Janelle Gokule
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
The Brampton, Ontario-based photographer spoke to us about life in the Caribbean, moving to Canada and how to take a gorgeous shot.
Trinket: You weren’t born in Canada—you come from the gorgeous Trinidad and Tobago. Tell us what it was like living in your home country.
Janelle Gokule: Life in the Caribbean was beautiful. I enjoyed a variety of the exotic fruits and our multicultural cuisine. I especially enjoyed celebrating our Independence Day. Everyone would gather around the Queen’s Park Savannah to savour the famous pholourie, a delicacy, as well as other street food in anticipation of fireworks for the grand finale. There is always some type of festival happening because of the diversity of the people. Trinidad's Carnival, which is described as the greatest show on Earth, was something that I also enjoyed as a child. I loved spending quality time over in the smaller twin island of Tobago, where we can boast about our very own Buccoo Reef and its crystal-clear surrounding beaches.
T: How old were you when you moved to Canada and what was that like? What do you remember about your first thoughts about Canada?
JG: I came to Canada at the age of 17. It was very devastating at that time—it was hard having to leave all that I had come to know, and enter a foreign land I had never even visited. My godfather had visited Canada and brought me a souvenir—the flag. We came to Canada in July and, remembering now, the moment we stepped outside of the airport I felt the change of weather conditions—it was cold! I had so many emotions going through my body, wondering if I would like it here and if I would ever move back home to Trinidad and Tobago.
T: When did you get into photography and why?
JG: I had my very first “moment” for photography while attending Humber College’s North Campus for culinary management. I remembered leaving the lab to attend my next class and saw a few students standing with their cameras. I felt frozen for a minute, then I felt a spark. I told myself there and then that once I completed my culinary journey, I would purchase my first camera to capture photos of my culinary creations as I grew in the industry. This was back in 2010.
T: What do you specialize in now and why do you love it so much?
JG: I specialize in branding and interior photography, with the addition of visual storytelling for brands through the art of flat lay. (A flat lay is a photo of objects arranged on a flat surface; the shot is taken from above.) I absolutely love that I’ve finally made the decision to grow where I am gifted. I have an eye for photography. Growing up in a house where my mother always made sure that it was cozy and well-dressed is the reason why I love interior designing. When it comes to branding, I get to flex my creativity with creating content for my clients that isn't generic but true to who they are and what their brand represents.
T: What has it been like to work with designers to capture the amazing spaces they create? And what has it been like to see your work in print?
JG: What I love most about working with creatives and designers is that it gives me the opportunity to learn. There is always something new and exciting, and the possibilities are endless. We work as a team and we don’t stop until we achieve our goal. Bringing the vision to life through imagery and presenting quality work every time makes it worth every minute I spend behind the camera, plus all of the computer editing. Seeing my work in print inspires me to go further and I am very thankful and humbled for the opportunity. Now that I am a published photographer, I have set new targets and I look forward to achieving them.
T: Give us one great tip about taking a gorgeous photo.
JG: The best advice I can give to anyone about taking a gorgeous photo is to know where to stand to capture the shot, make sure your settings in camera are accurate for the scene, and have the right lens to capture the image the exact way your eye views it.
You can find Janelle at janellegokule.com.
Images: Sanchia Bartley-Ndiaye