Exposure: Melissa Alcena

In the latest Exposure column, art director Gem Fletcher profiles the visual storytelling of Melissa Alcena, a Bahamas native who explores the depths of her culture and identity through quiet, tender portraits

The visual storytelling about the Bahamas is often limited to a binary framework of poverty or paradise, often lensed by tourists and outsiders. Melissa Alcena uses photography to build a new collective identity, opening up dialogues about the island and its people.

The Bahamian imagemaker grew up in Nassau, the picturesque capital, but only really understood her culture when she returned from studying photography in Oakville, Canada. “You can be desensitised to the things around you,” Alcena says. “Photography became a means for me to rediscover myself and my country, using it as a tool to have conversations with people on an entirely new level.”

All images by Melissa Alcena