IN THE TROPICS EXHIBIT BY TAHJ OSCAR SALAS
Model: Riane Capalad
Home is where the heart is
What is the best part about being a local creative in the Northern Mariana Islands?
Tahj: The challenges. There is a quote that says, "If you don't have failures and struggles; if you don't have disappointments and challenges, then you can never have courage, strength, and compassion." I am courageous, strong, and compassionate because of the challenges I have faced as a local artist. I know what I bring to any table I sit at.
I always aim to put out work that is a thousand times better than my last.
What are the challenges you face, and how do you overcome them?
Tahj: The biggest challenge I face is myself. My expectations for myself are high. I always aim to put out work that is a thousand times better than my last. In these moments of creative blocks, I reevaluate why I do what I do. I explore other creative projects and focus on falling back in love with my craft every day.
Nukuoran-Chamorro photographer and videographer Tahj Salas is another Marianas-based creative. Tahj's interest in photography and filmmaking began at an early age in life, having grown up around photographers and filmmakers. However, it was not until his middle school Social Studies class, where he had to film the reenactment of historical events, that his passion grew. From then on, Tahj set his mind on becoming one of the best in this industry. He is proud to share that many of his skills are self-taught, crediting much of his knowledge to hours of watching Youtube videos. His other learned skills are credited to his father, a well-renowned Marianas writer, and filmmaker.
Tahj's passion as a photographer and videographer has played a huge role in his extremely diverse media portfolio, having done documentaries, commercials, public service announcements, product advertisements, weddings, sports series, interviews, educational content, etc.
Today, Tahj owns and manages a photography and videography business called Native Lens. His Native Lens team consists of two other talented Marianas natives - Austin Barcinas and Darian Salas. In addition to running his business full-time, Tahj also works as the Communications and Media Specialist under the Commissioner of Education Office for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Public School System.
When asked about what inspires his work, he shared, "my family, the natural beauty of the Marianas, our deeply-rooted Chamorro and Carolinian culture, the rich history of the Marianas, and my travel adventures that have blessed me with experiencing a variety of cultures around the world." Culture drives Tahj's work hence the name Native Lens. Capturing the culture and history of his indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian people connects him to his roots and his ancestors. Tahj has one goal as a creative: to inspire the younger generation to go back to their roots, learn about their history, and keep the culture alive.