This past season in Belize we had a professional photographer, Jason Lee, join us on the island. We are very excited about the images and video he took for us, and several of these are still to be published. In fact, be sure to send us an email requesting of a copy of the new brochure when it comes out in print, or download the .pdf version off of our website.
We have had several professional photographers join us on the island in the past: Keith Fialcowitz, Barry Tessman, Eric Sanford, Clayton Anderson, Henry Georgi, Bill Hatcher, Mark Webster, and Peter Mc Dermott are the ones I am remembering right now. Many of our guests have also sent us photographs rivaling those of the professionals, in fact many of our guests
are professional photographers. I literally have thousands of images of our adventures and of our island. It’s a photogenic place!
Still, one of our biggest challenges is faithfully depicting the island in still images. Photos just don’t do it justice. Every year as guests disembark from our boat I hear exclamations “It’s even better than the pictures!” You just can’t give the full surround of being there in a photo. And that’s, of course, as it should be, but it’s a challenge for our marketing department (me).
Many years ago, when pondering this problem, I realized what we needed was an aerial shot. But not a far away one, like one taken from a plane, but a close up one, like one taken from a tower on the island itself. But there is no tower, and we had no plans to build one. How to solve this problem? Then I had the *brilliant* idea (if I may say so myself) of getting one of the passing yachtees to let us climb their mast and take a photo from there. A mast is tall, a mast can get close to the island… so I waited.
A few years went by and then a serendipitous chain of events conspired to make my vision of the perfect island photograph come true. First of all, we had to meet the right yachtees. And we did, Russ and Sue Hills, proud owners of Route 66, a yacht-and-a-half based out of Florida. I met them when one of our beginning kayakers I was paddling with bumped into their boat. I subsequently invited them over for a Belikin beer to thank them for not getting mad at us. They became fantastic friends and returned to visit for many years after (although I am sorry to say that it’s been years since I have seen them.)
I don’t remember how I met the photographer Keith Fialcowitz, but in early 2002 he was scheduled to come out to the island to take pictures for us. He is arguably the best photographer I have met. He travels with an amazing amount of stuff, and is a first-class perfectionist. Even though it’s been years since he was on the island (he joined us at least 4 times that first trip) we still use his images all of the time. Luckily, just as he had arrived, so did Russ and Sue. I had my National Geographic photographer and my yacht mast on the island at one time! Voila!
So I talked all of the guests into showing up for the photo shoot. We dragged all the kayaks and other gear out onto the beach instead of in the shade where it usually lives, and had everyone paddle and sail around in a circle for the picture. The result was the brochure centerfold we have used since 2002.
This was only 3-1/2 years after Hurricane Mitch had hit our island. Mitch took our Dining Hall and several cabanas and gave us a huge, new, treeless beach. This period in our history also coincided with the palm tree disease called Yellow Leaf disease that killed many of the trees. So the island had quite a dearth of shade. Since that time we have planted over 400 trees and we treat the originals that survived (about 500 trees) 4 times a year with an antibiotic specially formulated for palms.
So as every year has passed, the island has become greener and greener, but that centerfold image just stays the same. Never again did I have the perfect photographer and the perfect mast on the island at the same time. And then, they invented DRONES.
This is where Jason Lee comes in. Jason showed up last April with a drone-and-a-half and took some AWESOME pictures of the island. Finally, we get to update our centerfold! Once again we dragged all of the kayaks and other gear out on the beach, and once again we asked our guests to participate in the photo shoot. What a shot we got! And here’s the result.