She began shooting these kids around five years ago, in and under the water, in a fairly simplistic way. “It's actually difficult for me to see what I’m capturing underwater because I’m shooting with a pair of swimming goggles and a basic point-and-shoot camera,” she explains. Yet her lo-fi approach suited her well, as she didn’t want to make the kind of underwater pictures more commonly associated with this part of the world.
“Most underwater photography done in the Caribbean primarily documents marine life for scientific purposes or tourism promotion,” she says. “You will rarely encounter images of Caribbean people being represented in this space in an honest way.” And though Huggins was shooting in the most natural environment, her subject was more social than biological.
“I became really aware of the number of young men hanging out in the streets, mostly unemployed,” she says. “I knew I wanted to work with adolescent boys and young adult men in some way, but I wasn’t sure how it would take form. The beach I documented the young boys on is a place I spent most of my younger life.”
The project, which developed organically over the last few years, wasn’t without its obstacles. “I suppose the most difficult part of working in this capacity is being able to maintain a relationship of trust between the subject and myself,” she says. “In a lot of ways, I am ‘other’ to them. Being able to find a common ground to create a relationship is always a challenge, but once you are able to find that universal connection it opens up a lot of possibilities. I think the sea enables that shared experience of respect and trust both ways.”