I Have Had A Love Affair With My Country Jamaica – Conversation with Photographer Max Earle

Max Earle, Jamaican-Photographer

This week we have a conversation with Jamaican photographer Max Earle. From a young age he was able to see images within views from a unique perspective. His dad kept telling him he had a “gift”.  He soon realized he did have “gift” from God and has been sharing that it with the world since then. “I have had a love affair with my Country Jamaica for as long as I can remember,” says Max.

Q: As we Jamaicans like to say “Which part ah Jamaica yuh come fram?”
I was born in Kingston, but went to Munro College in St Elizabeth so consider myself more of a country boy than a city slicker.

Q: How did you get started in photography?
I had been dabbling with picture taking as a child, but it was at Munro that I got a chance to go into their Photoclub’s darkroom and watched an image appear from a blank piece of paper…that got me hooked forever.

Q: What subjects do you love to photograph?
I love to shoot sceneries and people. I find that almost anything you shoot has a “personality” and that also now includes the commercial end of my work shooting villas, hotels, magazine assignments and model portfolios.

Q: How do you prepare for a shoot?
Depending on the subject matter. If I am going to shoot a villa or hotel, I always do a “recce” first to get the lay of the land, and also know how the direction of the sun will enhance the different views I need to shoot. If I’m going to shoot a model, or do a family shot, I always meet the subject before, that way we get to begin a relationship so when we are shooting, theres a comfort and trust thats been developed before. There is also making sure you have the right equipment for whatever images you want to achieve, lenses, lighting, any additional props etc.

Q: What is the best advice anyone has given to you about photography? 
It really wasn’t advice…more an observation. When I was in my teens and my passion had been clearly defined, my Dad told me I have a gift…to be able to see an image within an overall view, and this encouraged me to consciously learn to do that. Now after over 40 years it comes naturally, but is something I’ve been told many times…that I can find shots of ordinary things and make them into images that people react very positively to.

Q: What inspires you when you a shooting pictures?
In every scenario…sceneries, people, buildings…its finding the right way to show off their true beauty. The right angle, lens, lighting, that brings out the very best of what I’m capturing. Sometimes it’s more of a challenge, sometimes it just pops in front of me and when Ive got the shot…I always know it right there.

Q: I love the collection Real Jamaica. What was the idea behind it?
There are so many images of the Jamaica that people know…Dunns River, Negril beach etc. I wanted to do a series of “off the beaten path” images that would give people a chance to see the real and raw beauty of Jamaica…not just the polished ones. I also wanted to show how diverse Jamaica is, with so many natural beauty spots that people wouldn’t get a chance to see.

Q: Do you use a physical dark room or an electronic dark room for your photos (Photo editing program)? 
When I was at Munro in my teens, the only way to develop images was through a chemical process in a dark room. Now with digital imaging I use Photoshop to edit what I shoot.

Q: What other famous people have you photographed?
I haven’t really photographed very many famous people. I guess the most famous would be President Jimmy Carter of the US.

Q: Based on your photos you seem to have traveled all around Jamaica. Can you tell us about a hidden gem location in Jamaica you discovered?
Wow…there are so many hidden gems! I can’t really take any credit for “discovering” any one in particular. I was given an incredible opportunity to spend 3 days on the Appleton Estate in the Nassau Valley, and captured quite a few views there that wouldn’t be available to anyone without their permission. Quite a few of these inspired the “Real Jamaica” collection.

Q: Where is the one place in the world you would like to go and take photos? 
I have always been fascinated by the beauty of the land and people of the Polynesian Islands.

Q: Which was the last inspirational book you read?
Mindfulness” by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.

Q: What is the most amazing place in Jamaica you cannot get enough pictures of?
A few years ago I would have said Silver Sands, but I think I’ve covered that from every imaginable angle. The Parish of Portland would be my current answer.

Q: What project are you working on right now?
Right now I’m shooting for the JHTA’s Inroom Magazine “Our Jamaica”

Q: Thanks for the interview. Any final thought or advice for amateur photographers?
Don’t just look at something from an average height. Get down and look up, get up and look down. Find things to put in your foreground to give your image depth. Shoot through things that will frame and emphasize what you’re shooting. And above all else…have fun!

About the author

Xavier Murphy