Back in the old days, we all used to enjoy going to photo studios to have our pictures taken.
Sometimes we would have to wait days and even weeks to receive our cherished photos, which we would then place in albums for our future viewing pleasure.
Fast forward decades later; photography has transitioned to instantaneous digital snapshots. With the advent of social media, especially apps like Instagram, photography has become a worldwide phenomenon.
In recent years, St. Lucia has seen an influx of photographers; currently ninety-two and counting. Many of them use social media to their advantage, establishing themselves as household names and gaining popularity for their work. One such brand is none other than Wavemaker Photography, which emerged on the scene in 2013.
Wavemaker Photography has since established itself as one of the most successful brands in St. Lucia. Their big break came in 2015 when they were awarded a photography contract by the St. Lucia Tourist Board for the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival.
Wavemaker specializes in events and portrait photography with the emphasis on aerial photography and cinematic headshots. They have worked with the likes of Digicel, Flow, IGY, Verve Events, Bay Gardens and Capella Marigot Bay. James Adjodha and Jesse Evans – two close friends – are the brains behind the business.
James was born in England to St. Lucian father & British mother who returned home with their family when he was nine. He’s a graduate of the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School and Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC). He pursued an Associate Degree in computer maintenance and systems engineering at SALCC and is certified in designing security systems in the UK, Canada and Miami. Known as a ‘people’s person’ who loves the outdoors and nature, he’s also certified in dactylology (sign language).He describes himself as outgoing and a lover of quality.
Jesse hails from Bexon and attended St. Mary’s College and SALCC where he studied automotive engineering. time spent with his friends. He’s also a proud event organizer and an amateur stylist.
We sat with Jesse and James for a peek inside the inner workings of Wavemaker Photography and to learn more about their plans for the future.
Dazzle: When did you realize that you guys had a passion for photography?
James: It stems from my childhood. I have always known my dad to be into photography. On family vacations, I always admired the photos he took on those trips, although he never did it professionally. Being in the security field, I always had an eye for photography. My interest increased during the smartphone revolution. Jesse and I started out with an iPhone 4s each. With the introduction of Instagram, which was solely for the iOS platform at that time, we began to showcase our photography. From there we got a gig thanks to our friend Claudine Springer, with a hotel and a restaurant for St. Lucia Holiday Tours . Soon after that same friend invited me to do photography with her for the St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival, and it was then I realized that I needed a proper camera. I bought one at The Cell and the rest is history.
Jesse: I was always interested in art but more along the lines of painting and drawing. After I left SMC I was no longer interested in that aspect of art so I transitioned into photography. As James said, with the iPhone 4 and Instagram and encouragement from our peers, the rest is history.
Dazzle: How did you two meet?
James: We have known each other for a long time. Our families have been very close.
Dazzle: How did you come up with the name Wavemaker Photography?
James: My dad imported a Suzuki Vitara back in the 90s, which had Act Wavemaker on the side. My brother who used to drive it started the Wavemaker Racing Development Team. He also used to DJ and called his company Wavemaker Sounds. So, when we first got the gig for the Jazz Festival I decided to call ourselves Wavemaker Photography.
Dazzle: Who is Team Wavemaker?
James: Jesse and myself. From time to time my sister, Lydia and our friend, Omar help out during large events.
Dazzle: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Jesse: The F Stoppers Community on Instagram. They feature photographers from all over the world. Browsing their work helps me to get inspiring ideas. In addition, the website 500px introduces me to things I never knew could have been done in photography to better my craft.
James: Locally, Royan Descartes encouraged us from the start by showing me things my camera could do that I wasn’t aware of. He is so inspirational with his images. He has become a big influence on me. Also, we owe a lot to Daniel Marcion and his business for our success as a business. Internationally, Steve McCurry and Platon have also been very inspiring. And of course our close friend Kermany “Loggo” Lionel.
Dazzle: What is in your Wavemaker camera kit?
James: Team Nikon! We both decided to use the same brand and interchange equipment to save costs. Their dynamic range and image quality are better. We also use DJI drone technology.
Dazzle: You were one of the first to introduce drone photography and videography to St. Lucia. What inspired that move?
Jesse: Because of our work ethic, and constantly trying to bring new things to the table, we decided to invest in an Inspire 1 Drone, since drone photography was becoming popular overseas. In doing so, it gave us a creative edge and a new perspective in doing photography. The purchase came at the right time as we got to use it at the 2015 Jazz & Arts Festival and thereby set a standard now for local events. Now almost every event here uses drone photography.
Dazzle: In an era where there are so many photographers operating in St. Lucia, what gives Wavemaker the competitive edge?
Jesse: I think what sets us apart is our following. People saw us start off with our iPhones and have been there with us throughout the journey. They’ve given criticisms, seen us improve and have shown their support. Now that we are an established business, we continue to interact with our fan base.
Image is everything, literally. We try to be professional in the way we dress and how we interact. That has given us somewhat of a competitive advantage.
Dazzle: How do you handle criticism of your work, especially from social media?
Jesse: It is a hard pill to swallow especially when you put so much effort into your work and for it to be put down. But there is always a good side to it. Criticism can build you up. We don’t take it to heart but use it to better our services and our business.
Dazzle: Wavemaker has been making the headlines over the past few years. Tell us about some of your achievements to date?
James: Our first highlight is the CDF Visual Arts Festival where we won the People’s Choice Award. After that we won the St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival photography contract in 2015. We got turned down the year before but we tried again the following year, making the proposal stronger and better. It is one thing to get a contact and to deliver the work. However, winning the bid for a second time was a greater achievement.
One day, while on a flight I opened the LIAT Inflight magazine which highlighted the Jazz Festival. Every single image had been photographed by us. For us, that was a huge accomplishment. More recently we won the Caribbean Fashion and Film Festival award for Best Documentary. This year we were nominated for the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce Business Awards for Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Marketing Excellence awards. We didn’t win but just to be mentioned among big notable companies was another great accomplishment.
Dazzle: Who encouraged you to submit the nominations for the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards and what did it do for your brand?
James: Our fellow photographers, Tariba Hinkson, Rankin Morgan and Lamar Sifflet. We had the forms and looked at them but we were unsure of submitting. Through their encouragement we did. Because our following is heavily based on social media, this opened us up to a different segment of the market.
Dazzle: What is your most memorable photoshoot?
Jesse: There is a St. Lucian couple living overseas who were already married but wanted to redo their wedding photos. We were contacted last minute. At the time it was challenging since we were not as versed as we are now. To see the photos that came out of it and how pleased the clients were was very encouraging.
James: For me it would have to be the 2015 St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. We never did anything that size before. We had to do aerial photography, capture branding, artistes, the crowd, and do live uploads. Locally, that had never been done before. It was overwhelming but a great success. It was a proud moment.
Dazzle: You are both members of the St. Lucia Association of Professional Photographers. What are your roles in the association and what are you hoping to achieve?
James: Recently, I was elected president of the association. I wanted to initiate a standard rate amongst photographers. There was too much disparity in rates among us. We have always tried to establish a standard price range for the fraternity. Many of our members benefit as a result. The association has ninety-plus members. We hope to introduce membership fees so that we can start to develop our members and do more. We also want to start exporting our services. Our whole aim as an association is to export our services to different islands which lack the resources that our photographers can provide. We also hope, in future, to collaborate with the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards to create standards for photography in St. Lucia. Finally, we hope to lobby for duty free concessions for photography equipment because we believe that we are ambassadors for the country.
Dazzle: What’s next for Wavemaker Photography?
James: We will soon be launching Wavemaker Weddings, which will focus solely on wedding photography and videography. We recently launched a Wavemaker Photo booth at events where you can send pictures or a videoclip of you taking a selfie straight to your phone. We will continue to provide this service to help enhance photography at events.
Dazzle: Any final thoughts?
James: We are two young persons who had a dream to do something and used social media to make that a reality. We hope this will inspire others to follow our example. Use the friends that you have to develop your ideas. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Create your avenue and revenue for yourself doing something that you love.