When you’re on a trip and bump into a charismatic character, you notice it right away. This is what happened to me when I met Foxy, a local of the island of Jost Van Dyke, the smallest of the four main of the British Virgin Islands. Here’s the story behind the awarded portrait of the most emblematic character of the islands. His name came up on a conversation with Sam, the captain of the Ibis Yacht, where we were traveling. She was the one who recommended us to visit him for the feature we were making for the Sunday Times Travel magazine.
That day was windy (the Virgin Islands are an ideal destination for sailing). We came from the south coast of Tortola after crossing a fairly rough stretch of navigation and sought refuge in Long Bay, a quiet bay located between Jost Van Dyke and Little Jost Van Dyke islet. We moored in front of Foxy’s Taboo, one of the businesses that make up the small and humble empire Foxy has on the island. The small seafront where we anchored the dinghy serves as a gateway to the establishment of the well-known character of the island, a place for meals with a certain tourist flavor but that manages to maintain a lovely spirit, and which is also the perfect access to the ‘Bubbly Pool’, one of the biggest attractions of the island.
There we found Foxy. A gentleman with the smile and spirit of a teenager who did not hesitate to sit down with us and almost automatically begin to share stories. From the wall were hanging photos of him with Michelle Obama or Brad Pitt among other celebrities. In those moments, in that hidden place of the planet, it was difficult to imagine that gentleman of white hair and barefoot accompanied by such personalities. That made me think about our condition as human beings. “I am human, you too, and hey, deep down we like the same things, we just want to be calm and have fun.”
While immersed in my thoughts I took some photos. If you are a photographer you should be aware of how difficult it is to get a good picture of someone who does not stop talking. Definitely, Foxy was not the type of character for a photo looking at camera, so I thought I would ask him to play a song with his guitar. Suddenly he began to do what looked like a rehearsed performance, gesticulating and singing in Caribbean English songs of his own harvest with a little calipso flavor that spoke of local life on the island. In between, he would struck his guitar like a drum and gestured with his face. That was the money shot!
I shot like crazy, and among all the photos, that image where he touches his face with one hand while holding the guitar with the other is the one I liked the most. It ended up being published in the Sunday Times Travel as part of the feature, and a few months later it was awarded the best image of the year published in specialized press by the Travel Media Awards.
Here are the outtakes of the session and the winning shot. Which one is your favorite?