Young Laborie Lensman Highlights Community.
WHEN Johnson Junior James was around 14 years old, a friend allowed him to use his pocket webcam to take photos. It was a defining moment for James who admits that he has always had a deep love for gadgets.
But that was fifteen years ago and today James finds himself clicking away on his own professional cameras for the photography business he runs.
James, who was born and still lives in Herelle, Laborie, owns Jkube Productions, a small company that specializes in both photography and videography for events and personal shoots. Some of the company’s credits over the past 10 years include photo-shoots for an Antiguan tour company, as well as local banks and schools.
Despite shooting for the stars, James admits that the business of capturing images that tell compelling stories is not as easy as lights, camera, action, shoot. The challenges he faces are not unlike many photographers trying to make a living doing the job they love, either.
“Some of the challenges I face include obtaining expensive equipment and maintaining it,” James tells me. “There’s also the issue of other photographers undercutting my prices.”
Throughout these challenges, the self-described out-of-the-box thinker said he remains passionate about capturing images in a very compelling way that would make people take a second look. In fact, Facebook is replete with many satisfied customers who thank the young photographer for his excellent work and encourage him to keep clicking away at captivating scenes.
But it was the recent Photo Challenge organized by the St. Lucia Association of Professional Photographers (SLAPP) themed “Transforming Lives” that pushed the talented lensman from behind the camera and into the spotlight.
As part of activities to mark this year’s Nobel Laureate Week, SLAPP held the competition as a way of challenging photographers to take photos of individuals who transform lives in their communities. The photographers were also expected to attach a short write-up about the person they felt inspire other Saint Lucians to transform lives. Like many SLAPP members, James took up the challenge and his camera.
James chose Quill Barthelmy, whom he described in his write-up as “a free-spirited, jovial, kind-hearted and hardworking individual” from whom many people have benefitted. Quill, he said, is a mentor who has devoted over 20 years to playing the steel pan, “opening her heart and her home to over 100 young children throughout the years.”
Through the Laborie Steel Pan Project, Quill has continued to instill positive attitudes and values to the young people she mentors, discussing with them topics critical to their holistic development. That kind of passion finds Quill devoting at least nine hours a week ensuring that her band members excel in their craft, including paying after-school lessons and CXC fees for some of her band members.
While this story is based primarily on the dreams being pursued by a young photographer assiduously working to improve on an already thriving business, it proves just how powerful the camera can be used to highlight an entire community. Call it picture perfect, if you will, but what James is showing us is that a community can be transformed for the better in just one click.