About the Photo Book
I didn’t realize then, but boy do I know it now – I was born and raised in the most beautiful place on earth, St. John, US Virgin Islands. Against a postcard-worthy background, the island allowed me to have the best childhood ever. Under the sizzling sun, my days often consisted of fishing, swimming, hiking, and exploring. These days, however, came to an end after I completed the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School in 1996 and I jetted off to Washington, DC, in 1997 to attend college. In the states, my life unpredictably unfolded in a way that didn’t allow me to return home as planned. As a substitute, every summer I bring my family, including my two daughters, down to St. John, allowing them to also experience the magic of the islands. Never in my wildest dreams did I think our visit in July 2017 would be the last time I would see St. John as I knew it.
A sick feeling
In September of 2017, I was glued to the TV as I closely monitored Hurricane Irma’s forecast. I had lived through Hurricanes Hugo, Marilyn, and more. But, I knew this one was different. I had a sick feeling in my stomach as I watched as Irma barreled towards my home, gaining in strength by the hour, with nothing in its way to slow it down (or weaken it). Then, the day came – September 6, 2017. I was so stricken with worry and fear, I could not work. I could not function. Thankfully, after days of waiting, I finally got the call many others in the states were waiting on. It was my sister telling me all my family members were safe. As for the island, my dad kept repeating that the whole place “mash up,” and that it will take 30+ years to recover.
A piece of my heart died
A month after Irma, I was lucky to get a flight into the islands once flights resumed. On my first day back, my dad took me around. I grabbed my camera and literally took 2000+ pictures. My goal was to share the images with those in the states who, like me, were desperate to learn the extent of the damage. A piece of my heart died as we drove around. It appeared as though a bomb went off. The trees were stripped bare. The ocean water was no longer turquoise; it was brown. Many of my favorite sites I grew up with were gone, including the famous Maho Bay palms, the leaning palm tree at Oppenheimer, the coconut trees at Trunk Bay, the campground at Cinnamon Bay. All gone. Just gone.
For about a year, my photos sat untouched on my computer. That was until my dad, who drives a safari bus for the cruise ship passengers, asked me to send him some of my pictures. Many tourists were asking him about the damage and he wanted the pictures to tell the story. Rather than sending him prints, however, I decided to surprise him instead with a photobook. He shared the book with his taxi friends who also wanted copies for themselves. Each day thereafter, my dad would call me to say how many more people wanted a copy. I quickly realized that this just might be a meaningful way for me to give back to the islands. And so that’s how “One Month Later” was born! I purchased additional copies to sell and a percentage of the proceeds will go towards rebuilding the island.