Gustavia’s Wall House Museum is hosting the second annual St Barths Photo Festival this month for a growing turnout of photography enthusiasts on the island. This year, the main exhibition is by François Roelants, who is paying tribute to St Barths’ native locals with a portrait photo series entitled Les Saint-Barths.
St Barths has long been a creative haven for photographers, who find endless inspiration in the island’s natural beauty. Roelants, who has been a frequent visitor since 2010, wanted to shift the focus from nature to humans for this year’s exhibit.
“I was surprised to have discovered these people, this story that I didn’t know anything about. Their lives were so hard for so long, and then there was this abrupt change with the island’s development. It’s a very interesting story.”
Roelants lets the local residents’ faces tell their story through his evocative photographs.
“I went and knocked on their doors, and was welcomed in about 90% of the time. Once I explained what I wanted to do, I found people were happy that someone was interested in them.”
The artist has photographed famous French actors and the Dior Haute Couture runway, but found this series to have its own unique challenges.
“My approach was completely different with the people of St Barths. While it took me more time to establish trust with them, I also had to work quickly to capture them at their most natural before they froze in front of the camera.”
The exhibition runs until August 16th at Wall House Museum in Gustavia.