Every winter, hordes of northern tourists head south, to enjoy the pleasures of Caribbean beaches and Caribbean culture. But for a photographer like me, it’s Caribbean colours that make the trip truly worthwhile. The people of the Caribbean have their own relationship with the colour spectrum; they like it brighter and more dramatic than most, and it’s a feast for the eyes.
Almost 10 years ago, I was fortunate enough to get a writing assignment on a Caribbean cruise. But this wasn’t any ordinary Caribbean cruise: it was a week aboard the Caledonia, a full-size recreation of a 19th-century barquentine sailing ship. For seven days we cruised the islands of the French Caribbean, under sail when we were able. And we moored here and there, to see the local sights and stroll through cities and towns that looked like sets from a pirate movie.
One day, we awoke to grey skies and drizzling rain. No day for hitting the beach — but there was nothing to prevent a photo safari. So a few of us hopped in a tender with our cameras and rain coats, and set off to visit the small town down the coast. We walked the empty streets, enjoying the little frame houses, the quirky shops and restaurants, the open doorway where a tiny girl blew kisses at the strange visitors passing by.
And most of all, we soaked in the Caribbean colours. In the Caribbean, you don’t just paint your house brown or grey. You add some colour, preferably something bold and sunny. And if you have a little talent, you put on a painting, like this one on the side of a store on Main Street. Somehow, it seemed to define the place we’d come to: a waterfall, the sun over the ocean, a rasta man with his dreadlocks, a cold beer … and all in joyful pastel colours. Two chickens scratching in the dirt below made it all complete.
We spend a lot of time trying to capture the building and monuments and landscapes of the places we visit. But sometimes it’s best to relax and just take in the colours; they can personify the place more than anything else. These Caribbean colours may not paint the whole picture of the southern islands, but for me, they capture its spirit.
Note: Click on the photo at top to see it full-size