Profile: Caribbean Photographer Gary James

By Tim Cotroneo

The Turks and Caicos Island of Providenciales is home to some of the most luxurious oceanfront villas in the world. Ask TC Villas CEO Dan Kasal his first choice when selecting a villa photographer and he is quick to reply. “Gary James of Provo Pictures is the best on the island.”

James lived in South Africa before making the long leap to Providenciales and its neighboring cluster of 40 islands and cays. James services the architectural, real estate, and hospitality industries, as well as editorial and commercial photography.

Travel Dreams caught up with James and asked him to relay details of his photographic journey. James was also kind enough to share an array of his photographs, and insights into what makes Turks and Caicos a fabulous place to work.

Q: Where are you based?
Gary James: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.

Gary James: This is an interior shot of the Mandalay Estate on Long Bay. Sublime architecture and design converge at the heart of the Mandalay estate.

Q: How did you get started in photography?
I started in South Africa, in the mid 90’s I graduated from university with an honours degree in film. Shortly thereafter I joined the commercial film industry, working my way up to producer. I specialised in high end local and international TV & cinema ad production and clocked two decades on film sets, edit suites and boardrooms. When my wife dragged the kids and I to the Caribbean in 2013, image acquisition was still in my blood. A chance meeting with a photographer on island who was in need of video production, led to me shooting and editing video which in turn, led on to stills.

Gary James: It’s a trick to get exposure differential balanced for interiors and exteriors. But it was easy for this shot of the open dining plan living area of the Alamandra Villa. The tall bay doors allow plenty of light into this clean modern space.

Q: How did your relationship with TC Villas get started?
I met Dan Kasal previously through Steve Passmore, the original owner of the business. I guess Dan inherited me when I took over the business from Steve. I still get work out for him, so hopefully he’s remained happy with the Provo Pictures standards!

Q: What is your favorite camera or “go to” camera?
Nikon D810

Q: How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
Years of professional image acquisition in various disciplines has given me my ‘eye’. For creative inspiration all I need do is look through the viewfinder, frame up and appreciate the considered design and natural beauty on offer. Technical proficiency is developed by staying current with the software and hardware developments as the industry progresses.

Gary James: This is a shot of Lonely Pine Water Cay, one of my favourite places on Earth. My family and friends gathered here for a BBQ on New Years day 2020. Little did we know this would be the last social gathering for a very long time.

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
If I had known how much fun this is, I would have started way sooner in my life!!!

Q: What is your photographic niche and what is it about this niche that appeals, inspires, or satisfies you?
Commercial photography for real estate, hospitality, interior design and architecture. I am blessed to work on one of the most beautiful islands in the world, shooting amazing spaces in good light. For what I do, it’s as good as it gets. Dream job.

Gary James: There are many little jewels to be discovered on Providenciales, one of which is this gem of a beach adjacent to Blue Cay Estate on the eastern most point of the island.

Q: What are the typical preparations that go into your photographic shoots?
Pack the van and go!

Q: What is special or unique about shooting photographs in Turks and Caicos?
The ocean colors, the pristine beaches and the incredible resorts and villas that line it’s shores.

The government is doing a great job with conservation too. The entire north shore of Providenciales is a national park, which protects the marine life and coral reefs.

I am also privileged to shoot on some of the adjacent islands… Parrot Cay, Pine Cay, North and South Caicos. Each island has their own unique ‘feel’ and the commute on a ferry or private airplane charter is still a real treat!

Gary James: The pool deck of Shambhala overlooks the indigenous flora aligning Providenciales south shore, Long Bay. An international kite boarding mecca.

Q: What do you try to say in your photographs?
I try to capture the natural beauty of the islands. To give the view a sense of how it would feel to walk on these shores. Come here! You know you want to.

Q: Anything I haven’t asked that you’d like readers to know about you or your photography?
I also direct, shoot & edit video.  See the video tab on my Provo Pictures website.

For more of Gary James amazing photography and video, checkout www.provopictures.com

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