Jan 03, 2016 News
By Annette Arjoon-Martins
It is certainly true that for anyone seeking to explore Guyana, whether a resident, from the diaspora or a completely new visitor, that we are fortunate to live in the technological age where a range of information is readily available and often at no cost.
As a newcomer to this technological age, I learnt that there are many spokes to the wheel and I came to the process in stages. Moving from a conservationist with a camera on Shell Beach initially, I am blessed to have unlimited access to our incredible interior, compliments of our very own Air Services Limited.
This year is one decade after I clicked my first shutter and I am in another stage of the learning. My images have found a home in a Facebook venture I started with my husband, Dave Martins of the Tradewinds. The intent was to offer those images to all those would-be Guyanese explorers, both home and abroad on a site called Annette & Dave Martins: “Is We Own”, the reference being to one of Dave’s popular songs.
I suspected there would be an interest in the photographs, because they are largely drawn from the natural world, and some of them were taken in areas not widely seen by Guyanese, but the reaction to the pictures has been a flood.
Virtually overnight, hundreds of people were coming to the site and often posting comments. It’s only been six months, but the hits so far have been in the thousands. It’s also interesting that I’m hearing from a range of people, both at home and abroad, and what is particularly striking for me is the fervor that comes with the interest.
Part of the reaction is from the photo quality, but the bigger part is the subjects themselves. In my work and travels, I had been all over Guyana, including some remote locations and many of the bloggers, themselves Guyanese, comment about seeing pictures of a Guyana they had never known.
Also, along with the landscapes and the impressive waterfalls, I had captured much of the varied culture of Guyana including the Amerindian aspect which is not that widely found in detail. This would not have been possible without the support of my best friend Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, who helped with the photographic opportunities and lent her vast knowledge over the years.
The other part of the appeal is that these pictures, along with my brief comments, are an antidote to the general information in the daily press where the emphasis is on more negative matters.
My postings are essentially about the beauty of the country, seldom seen images of parts of it, and of ordinary people going about their lives with spirit and humour; it’s a totally different bag.
Although I do it for the love of it, and not intentionally as an antidote, it seems that is the effect it has on the people who come to the site. Many of them talk about seeing the worth of Guyana, and several who have been away for decades say the pictures are stirring them to finally visit the homeland.
Many of them use words to the effect, “I didn’t know Guyana was so beautiful.”
Among the many photographs that draw comments is a shot of bottlenose dolphins cavorting in the Waini River mouth; many Guyanese don’t even know we have those. From the volume of reactions – one photograph, of a palm-lined street in Mabaruma drew over 15,000 hits – it seems I have a jaguar by the tail.
Most recently, I posted a short aerial video of the refurbished Merriman Mall and overnight it got over 51,000 hits which really was amazing.
In 2016, just in time for our 50th Independence Anniversary I will be producing and posting more videos from footage taken by a drone, compliments of Ian Brierley, as well as two Go Pro cameras in helicopters, compliments of Air Services Limited. The Go Pros capture the length and breadth of our incredible interior from a bird’s eye view and which I guarantee can be seen nowhere else.
I have learnt that social media has a reach far beyond daily media and some of the plaudits have come from Guyanese as far away as Australia, Alaska, Dubai and Sweden, to name a few. I’ve also learned that the daily connection the site affords, as opposed to the annual or even monthly magazine, is a powerful ingredient in its success. The audience are seeing and hearing and connecting in a very immediate way, and they are coming to unbiased information that allows them to see Guyana in a different way leaving them able to make their own decisions about our country.
This reaction has contributed to my interest in producing my very own short features on local personalities whose immense contributions to our nation’s development deserve no less.
Once sponsorship becomes available, I also aspire to have an “Is We Own” version of Charlie Rose whose shows on PBS I am a huge fan of, and who has been a true inspiration for my lofty ambition!
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