Everyone knows the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words, well photos from Old Mango are worth a few more. William Anthony, known online as Old Mango – Guide To The Islands, is a fantastic photographer that lives in the USVI and lives the true Castaway life.
We see the world in front of his lens, now let’s get to know the person behind it. I met William this past January on St. Thomas but we didn’t get a lot of time to talk, there was a rum tasting we had to attend and you can pretty much guess how the rest of the night went after that. Still, I wanted to get to know Old Mango better, learn how he shoots such great photographs and find out the story behind his move to St. Thomas, so what better way to do that than interview him here on RSR.
I shot William some pretty intense questions and this is what he had say. Grab yourself a rum drink, sit back and let’s learn about the life of an island photographer.
1. Great name great photographs! Tell us the story of how Old Mango came
about and how you got into photography?
Well first of all thanks so much for sharing my photos with your fans on Rum Shop Ryan, and for taking the time to ask me some questions about my work. The whole reason behind “Old Mango – Guide to the Islands” is to share the images I take everyday with my friends back home in the states and to promote tourism in the Islands.
I never went to school for photography, unless you count summer school when I was 10 years old where I learned about film, processing, and even built a pin hole camera, which I still have to this day. I just basically taught myself over the years, eventually moving from up north to Miami Beach where I started shooting for resorts and restaurants. After a few years in Miami I accepted a position at Sea Island Resorts in Coastal Georgia (www.seaisland.com). I spent almost 5 years there as staff photographer shooting everything from food & wine, lifestyle, and real estate. I would spend about 2-3 weeks a year traveling the Caribbean on my vacation booking freelance jobs in the BVI and USVI. I fell in love with the people, laid back lifestyle, and sunsets…then decided to sell everything and shoot full time in paradise.
2. You’re one of my favorite island photographers, but you didn’t always call St. Thomas home. Tell us about why you moved to the USVI. Was the transition difficult? Did you have work lined up?
One day on vacation I was on the ferry leaving Jost Van Dyke looking back at the sunset. I decided then and there that I didn’t want to feel that feeling of having to leave some place that I felt was my home. Sure, I lived in Georgia at the time but I have never felt more free and in place than I did in the Caribbean. I saved up for about 2 years, sold everything I had and just moved. I didn’t have any work lined up except for freelance photography jobs from clients I had worked for in the past. I have always lived my life in the moment and trust my self to know that I can be happy anywhere in the world and in life as long as I have my faith, family, and friends.
As of this interview I have been living full time here for 17 months. I think the most important thing about the transition from living in the states to the VI is that you have to move for the right reasons. Some people move down for the season to bartend or island hop and party 24/7. You will get burnt out quick that way. But for me I have a plan, working hard and doing as many jobs as I can to build my company. I do get out and relax on the beach a lot and get to party here and there but my focus is on my work and I love sharing the photos.
3. Rum. You just knew there was going to be a question about rum didn’t you? What is the rum of choice for Old Mango? Favorite boat drink cocktail?
It wouldn’t be a Rum Shop Ryan interview if there wasn’t some rum! My favorite rum has to be Bones Rum from the USVI. It is actually made locally on St. Thomas in small batches, and they have a killer BBQ sauce that has the rum in it. Favorite cocktail hands down is the Painkiller, and the best Painkiller I’ve had is at Pusser’s Road Town Pub in Tortola. They have this small version called the Painkiller Shooter, which is the painkiller in a shot glass with a Pusser’s Rum Floaty goes well with the deep fried hot dog. PS. Cant wait to try some of your readers cocktails at the next Rum Shop Ryan party at Bolongo!
4. When you’re not shooting amazing photos, what do you like to do on island?
That’s a question that locals like to joke about, you know there really isn’t much to do on this little rock other than go out to bars, the beach or boating. So I work alot, but I love soccer at the beach or just throwing a football around. For me, I am not that much into the bar or club scene, so I just explore the islands and take pics talk to business owners, chefs, locals and continue to write for the travel guide. Whenever I get the chance I fly to other islands on photo shoots, yes people who live on an island need a vacation too!
5. I love learning about photography as I’m sure a lot of Castaways do. Can you tell us what type of gear you use and a couple tips to help us take better photos?
I think the most important advice I can give is shoot what you love. For me I love the beach and food, so thats what I shoot. I have Nikon digital camera bodies, most of the photos you see that I post are with my Nikkor 50mm lens 1.8. This lens does everything from my night shots to food to weddings. My other lens is really wide for beach shots, its a 11-17mm 2.8 with UV filter. For tips, I would say at night use a self timer on 5 seconds, then while using a tripod get your shot that way, will come out cleaner since it will reduce the chance of vibration from pushing the buttons. And one last tip would be not everything has to be in the middle, try using the rule of thirds.
6. If you had to choose another island in the Caribbean to call home, which one would it be?
Some of my best friends live in Puerto Rico, its as close as you can get to the states lifestyle and still have a unique Caribbean culture with amazing food, people, and beaches. So I think if i had to choose I would live there. St. John would have to come in 2nd place, its so refreshing to drive over there on the ferry and just do a road trip from Maho to Coral Bay, stopping along the way for donkeys and beach bum hitchhikers, and of course the Skinny Legs Pretty OK Cheeseburger to wrap it all up!
7. I’m sitting in the RumShop office right now, staring at a 2012 Old Mango calendar. I sometimes get lost in it, flipping through it to look at past and future months. It really is instant inspiration. I saw that you have put together a 2012 island calendar, tell us about it and where we can get one.
Basically when I am out shooting on location for my freelance business (www.photo.vi) I am always focused on what the client wants, maybe its real estate, a lobster dish for a restaurant, or a swimming pool at a resort. Old Mango was born because I wanted to share my time with my family and friends, and that’s what the project and the calendar are about. My favorite spots in the Caribbean while I am out shooting just being me and loving life.
One of the shots in the calendar is from a photo shoot I did at Ivan’s Stress Free Bar, I spent 14 days in a row at Ivan’s Guest House, and at the end of my time there I got this amazing sky with pink and purple colors that will probably always be my favorite. So many special memories are behind each photo.
Each photo in the calendar is an 8×10″ photo on its own, which can be removed from the calendar and framed. On the 1st of each month you will see the location of each image. The 2013 Calendar is available right now at www.2013calendar.oldmango.com I also have a (6) pack of postcards that are 5×7″ and feature some of the same images you see on the Facebook page. I am thinking of making a BVI and USVI calendar next year, have way too many to fit in just 12 months.
8. Last question. If you’re marooned on a deserted island and could only have 3 things with you, what would they be?
An island girl, some music, and fire!
I’d like to thanks Old Mango for taking the time to do this interview. I think we all got to know William a little better and were inspired by his story of moving to the USVI. I know I was. I might join you down there in a year or two!
If you’d like to view photographs from Old Mango – Guide To The Islands you can follow him at these places: