Virgin Islands Dream
Don Hebert’s Stunning Caribbean Photography by Tim Cotroneo
We’ve all experienced key times when the decisions we’ve made could be considered turning points. For St. Thomas-based photographer Don Hebert, his life changing fork in the road occurred when he started making more money as a part-time photographer than he earned as a full-time math instructor.
Something deep inside told Hebert that his Michigan State accounting major didn’t quite provide the career spark he yearned for. In 1980, after accepting a spur of the moment math teaching position in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hebert discovered his spark could be ignited by taking photographs.
What helped fuel this fire was the fact that people were willing to pay for images Hebert framed with his photographic eye and imagination. Hebert found there was a definite audience hungry to view the Virgin Islands reflections he captured through his camera lens. Hebert connected with the visual feast his island surroundings provided, and he felt encouraged by photography’s earning potential.
Hebert chose St. Thomas, the most populated of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, as his new home. The good news is that Hebert isn’t restricted to just shots of St. Thomas’ bustling harbor, its gravity-defying hilltops, or its high-end beach resorts. In fact, hardly a week goes by that Hebert doesn’t journey beyond St. Thomas’ shores to shoot paradise-like images on neighboring St. John, St. Croix, or the British Virgin Islands.
Hebert’s weekly calendar may include shooting a poolside session at a luxury villa, a yacht shimmering along the Caribbean Sea, or an aerial view of a private island. What’s especially great for this Michigan native is that each day is a new adventure. Hebert shoots Caribbean images so rich in color that there’s rarely a need to enhance his photos with the latest software programs. Hebert thanks his lucky stars that his career began in the era before digital. It wasn’t that long ago that Hebert had but one chance to capture that perfect moment.
Looking back, Hebert’s photographic path to the U.S. Virgin Islands was a career move made in heaven. There are days when Hebert discovers a spectacular clarity in the rarified Caribbean air. It’s on those days that Hebert can shoot one of those photos that a photographer lives for. Whether that’s a helicopter shot from high above Tortola, a million dollar residence on Peter Bay, or a lone bathing beauty sunning herself on a secluded stretch of Deep Bay Beach, the Virgin Islands are Hebert’s oyster, and he savors every moment through the eye of his Canon 1Ds camera.
For many, life’s forks in the road are the hardest of choices. For Don Hebert, the career opportunity to share beautiful Caribbean island images through photography “wasn’t a hard decision at all.” When faced with a career fork in the road, Hebert liked what he saw and what his heart felt. Whether you’re an accountant or a photographer, it’s best to trust the bottom line and remember that your heart never lies. www.donhebert.com http://www.donhebert.com/fine-art.html