Face to Face
By Felicity Darville
I remember when I was growing up, when selfies were unheard of, the signature of a certain photographer stood out. Any time I visited someone’s home and saw a fabulous portrait with that iconic Rodger D signature in gold lettering, I knew they had been photographed by one of the best in the country. To this day, Rodger Dwight Eisenhower Sands’ mark of excellence still stands.
When I finally had the opportunity to visit his studio in the Shirley Street Plaza and meet him personally, it was an eye opening experience. We hit it off well from the start. We greeted each other with the exact same word, which was a shocker for us both: “Blessings!” It was indication we were on the same wavelength, and Rodger D did not disappoint. He has a passion for people and for photographs. When combined, they result in one-of-a-kind images where he is able to capture people in their best light. It may have to do with the fact he never takes his first shot until he gets to know you. He puts his loving energy into finding out who you really are. He also unselfishly shares about his own passions and desires. This allows him to capture your essence and deliver a timeless photo.
In his studio, I browsed the many life-sized images that adorn his walls, including portraits of babies, brides, graduates and so many others. He has albums that go back decades, all highlighting some of his best work. I perused them while listening to his collection of feel good music. The atmosphere really sets the scene for great photography to take place. I fell in love with his collection of cameras… not the new DSLRs and the like that he makes photo and video magic with today, but the older models, the ones no longer used that represent the days of photography past. He has memories to share about his beloved tools and although no longer in use, they still have a place in his studio.
“I started out with a dream of becoming a great scientist, a dream I went after with great persistence and study, but somehow it never materialised in the form I envisioned,” says Rodger.
“I ended up being a scientist in several areas of the visual arts. Over the years, I have found out that Portraiture and Videography are truly sciences.”
Rodger attended RM. Bailey Senior High School where he acquired GCEs (General Certificate of Education) in Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and English Language. Shortly afterwards, he started working at the Meteorological Office and at that same time, he attended the College of the Bahamas to further his education. Before finding his true calling, Rodger worked as a disc jockey and also as a control room attendant at the Bahamas Electrical Corporation’s Blue Hills Power Station for a number of years.
He shared: “Along this road, the idea manifested to me to become the greatest lawyer this country has ever known… and off I went! It was during this time that a great truth about life was revealed to me. This truth was: ‘There was a great power at work in the affairs of men, and that if there is something greater that one must do, he will be placed where it is divinely ordained for him’. I found that the harder I worked in my chosen area of endeavour, the less progress I made. It reached a point where I had to consciously let go and just allow my divine purpose to unfold.
“Here I am 30 years later, the President and Chief Creative Portrait Artist at Rodger D Photography & Videography Studio. As a child I loved art, and throughout my life this has served as the motivating force behind my interest in professional photography. I started photography as a hobby in 1978 leading up to my graduation from Senior High School, and over the years this interest has turned into a burning desire to create some of the most beautiful portraits I have ever seen. You must visit our Portrait Gallery. It is truly an experience.”
As he progressed in his field, Rodger learned there is a difference between taking a picture and creating a timeless portrait. One is just a snap, he said, but the other is created “when an individual becomes aware of the principles and procedures involved in the art of professional portraiture”.
“I learned that regardless of the appearance of an individual, everyone can be photographed in a way that is uniquely pleasing and outstanding to the viewer,” he added.
“Portraiture is more than just holding a camera and taking a picture. Timeless portraits are created when a photographer is attuned to the deeper currents of life and is able to flow intuitively in this current and hence, an image is created that has the ability to transcend time.
“When a photographer has developed this ability to capture the essence of an individual photographically, then he has positioned himself with great masters of the craft that continue to operate in this experience. Herein lies the main difference between photographers.”
When I saw that Rodger D had created the portrait of another well known and well respected photographer in the field, I knew he had to be special. The late Antoine Ferrier has photographed many influential people in the country, including all of the prime ministers before his passing. For him to entrust the capturing of his image to Rodger D, he must have had great confidence in work that must be as impeccable as his. Charles Antoine Ferrier was born in November of 1941 and died in November 2016 at the age of 75. He was a charismatic figure who touched many lives, including mine. I had the opportunity to enrol in one of his Creole classes, for which I am thankful. To Rodger D, Ferrier was a mentor, teacher and a friend of more than 30 years.
In a tribute to his mentor, Rodger D writes: “I enjoyed the conversations, the jokes, the laughter, the travelling, and the sharing of the photography tips, tricks and secrets. The moments and occasions shared with you and your family will remain forever entrenched within my heart.”
Rodger D’s life was also heavily impacted by his mother, Olga Sands. He was one of her seven children and she took pride in raising them to appreciate their self worth. Olga, who died in 2013, left behind a myriad of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who benefited from her caring love and support. Rodger called her “a mother, a best friend, a problem solver, a confidant, a walking partner, a dinner partner, a prayer partner, a listening ear, a comforter, a family historian, a hard worker, and a woman who loved her church and her God.”
His life lessons have taught him much: “Excellence comes at a price. In essence, there are times that one may be able to pick up a stone, but a truly polished diamond comes into being only after much work has been devoted to the process, with great attention being placed into the finer details of the creation. Excellence is what I strive for. There is a major reason why people are not satisfied with their photographic results and it is this: not everyone is qualified to do the work. Sometimes people attempt to get their work done as cheaply as possible, and going along this route, one is bound to meet with problems and disappointments in the final analysis. Customers come to our studio from different parts of the world. Over the years, I have dealt with thousands of customers and these customers have become my clients because of the service they received and the quality of the products that were created for them. It takes time to produce perfection.”
To see some of his work, visit www.rodgerdphotography.com or look for Rodger D Sands on Facebook.