A Closeup of St. Thomas

Charlotte Amalie Street Scene

While visiting St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands a few months ago I wore 2 hats as a photographer.  In fact I do that at almost any location I go to as a tourist and a photographer.  One hat involves capturing those record photos that purely document the trip.  The other hat is all about finding the artistic or publication worthy photo.  The photo above, looking down a hill in downtown Charlotte Amalie, the capitol city of St. Thomas, toward the harbor, was meant to be publication worthy but I wasn’t too crazy about it.  That is until a month later, looking at an issue of “Inside Edge” a Sony Camera magazine, the cover photo was a very similar scene looking up a hill in Cuba.  The scene was very similar with wires and electric/telephone poles prominent in the photo.    http://discover.store.sony.com/insideedge/ie_alpha_nex_1.html

Once I saw Peter Sills’ photo on the cover of a magazine, I reevaluated my own photo and decided that it was worthy after all.  It shows some of the dichotomy of St. Thomas, poverty and modest living conditions living right alongside of elaborate cruise ships and tourist amenities!

Apartment and hanging laundry in Charlotte Amalie.

At the very bottom of the hill, looking back toward the interior of the island, I came across this scene of laundry hanging outside of a very modest apartment building.

Fresh coconut!

Then, within a few blocks, standing on a corner surrounded by jewelry shops, I came upon this fresh coconut vendor, waving a machete in the air!  He put on quite a show, slicing open coconuts held in his left hand while weilding the machete in his right.  It was a real slice of the life of the islanders, making a living from the much wealthier tourists.

These were some of the types of photos I truly wanted to capture in St. Thomas, more than merely the typical record shots of beaches, resorts and cruise ships!


About Kolman Rosenberg

My interest in photography began as a college newspaper and yearbook photographer during the stormy 1960s and 1970s. I was influenced by many of the great photojournalists and documentary photographers such as W. Eugene Smith, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Margaret Bourke-White and other black and white photographers of Life Magazine and the earlier Farm Security Administration. Though many of these photographers documented the horrors of war and the plight of poverty, they also showed me the dignity and adaptability of human beings in their desire to prevail.
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