What About Photographing People?

This can be tricky. The guiding principle: Always ask first.

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Photography on The Islands
People Deserve Respect

Islanders don't dress they way they do and speak quaintly to impress tourists. This is their life.

If you're not carrying a camera, or if you have it slung over your shoulder so it's not about to be used, people are generally friendly and open.

With your camera in hand, these same people may be reserved or hostile.

Some islanders don't like to be photographed unless they are dressed in their finest. Others have been hassled by tourists so often they resent posing.

I asked a woman at the fish market in Grenada if I could photograph her. She turned her back to me and said "I no monkey!" But I was welcome to take pictures of her fish.   

For a few islanders, having their photograph taken is considered a dangerous thing. While Christianity is the avowed religion of most islands, what we call " voodoo " is still practiced. The most dangerous thing a believer in the dark arts can imagine is someone capturing their likeness. The photograph can then be used in spells against them to cause sickness and misfortune.

Some islanders expect to be paid for having their picture taken because they've seen their photos show up in magazines, so they know pictures are worth something. You're getting another souvenir by taking their photograph. What are they gaining?


If you are dealing with someone operating a roadside stand or some other business, you may be amazed at the cooperation you may receive if your purchase an item first, even if it as trivial as a soft drink. That way it becomes a give-and-take situation with both parties gaining something.

In any case, the proper thing to do is always ask permission and when a person declines, respect their wishes.

If you don't, what happens next will be on your head. In extreme instances, that could be a rock or bottle.

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