Earlier this month, I received a request from my publisher to submit an author bio and photo for my guidebook by December. It has haunted me ever since, because a) I cringe when I have to write about myself in the third person, and b) if you ask me how many times I’ve been in front of a lens since becoming a travel photographer four years ago, I can count them on one hand.
For all the months I’ve spent in Belize, the multiple round trips, the gorgeous backdrops I’ve captured and experienced, the thousands upon thousands of shots — I’ve rarely, ever felt the need to be in them. If I have a photo, either a tour guide or friend suggested it, or it was a quick handheld shot. I just don’t think about having my photo taken anymore. Ironic, for someone who used to model on the side, years ago — from bridal to local runway shows in Washington DC — and who loved doing the “tourist” thing back in my 20s (you know, the obligatory stand-in-front-of-everything photo).
Well, I spent the past week in Dangriga, to continue my work on the South Coast chapter and to attend the November 19 Garifuna Settlement Day celebrations.
Anyone who knows Belize and Dangriga, knows that the best photographer in the country lives here (in my humble opinion, he is the best). It’s a name you’ve probably even seen yourself, online or in print: Tony Rath.
I met Tony in person last year, albeit very briefly, but like most Belize aficionados, I was familiar with his photography long before, gazing at his stunning landscape and underwater shots.
This time around, I was finally spending time in his town. After sharing my plans for my South Coast chapter with him, he kindly offered to show me around the South Water Caye Marine Reserve and helped me coordinate my days on the islands. I had already been to the cayes and snorkeled from there, but I wanted a deeper understanding of the southern reef and a fresh look at the area for the next edition of Moon Belize.
The thing is, you can only be around a photographer so long before you become their subject. I didn’t notice his Canon telephoto lens on me at first — the image below shows I had no idea he was shooting, the morning of the Settlement day reenactment. Exhausted but thrilled to be there to capture the event, I was up at five in the morning and had only slept for two hours after the all-night parties, drumming and dancing in the “sheds” in town.
After a couple of days of pure festivities and immersion in Dangriga and the Garífuna events in town, we headed to South Water Caye, where Pelican has a sister property (some of you might recall how much I love that place).
Within minutes, we were off to explore the reef. How often do you get to snorkel with a trained marine biologist, and in Belize? Not very often. Tony identified different species as we went along — I even learned how to dive in for closer looks, with >>