Tropical Gifts and Photography...
We offer tropical gifts and stunning, custom-made photography prints in a wide variety of media, formats and sizes. John personally creates each print using the latest digital technology.
Dean grew up in Virginia and worked in retail stores since she was a teenager. In 1980, after working in Lake Placid for the Olympics, she was offered a job with a wooden toy maker producing retail and wholesale shows. She was based in Mississippi but staged as many as 30 shows annually, all over the country. She enjoyed this vagabond job for about five years meeting many great craftsmen. In fact John and Dean met at a large wholesale craft show in 1985.
Since moving to the Virgin Islands in 1988, Dean has indulged her passion for snorkeling. Her life-long love for the water only increased the first time she tried snorkeling. “Every time I jump in the water, I never know what I might see,” she says.
Every time I jump in the water, I never know what I might see - Dean
For several years she and John operated a day charter business in the British Virgin Islands. Dean eagerly took on the job of introducing many, tentative, first-time snorkelers to the wonders beneath the surface of the Caribbean. “Now that I have a camera, it’s even more fun.” Many of Dean’s favorite subjects are found among the watery roots of the endangered Mangrove trees that form an area known as Hurricane Hole on St. John. There she finds a myriad of marine of colorful creatures that use the Mangroves as a nursery before they can venture out into the more competitive larger environment.
Both John and Dean offer prints of their photography in a variety of media, formats and sizes at SugarBirds, which also features an eclectic mix of island inspired gifts, cards, prints and souvenirs. Their mutual love of American crafts has been carried over into their stores. Under Dean’s direction, the shop has become a treasure trove of tropical prints, decorative maps, children’s books, ornaments, and an abundance of fun, colorful and unique handcrafts.
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John’s interest in photography began in his home state of California, where he started working in a camera shop in the mid-1960s. He majored in photography in college and continued shooting during a stint in the Army, where he made portraits and sold his first prints in 1968. He became an assistant photographer and darkroom assistant while serving in Vietnam.
Following the service, John pursued freelance work, shooting interiors and exteriors of new construction. In the early 1970s he joined a large graphics company, designing and building a commercial darkroom. In the evenings he completed a year of study focusing on reproduction and prepress for large format photography. He moved to the Arizona State History Museum, where he served for 10 years as an exhibit designer and photographer. While there he also branched into medium and large-format photography while conducting field research.
His work also includes shooting nationally known glass artists Dale Chihuly and William Morris. John learned glass blowing under an apprenticeship with Michael Joplin, and he continued making product shots of art glass for local artists in Tucson, Ariz. He temporarily abandoned photography for a 10-year stint as a full-time glass artist.
Following a move to the Caribbean, John rekindled his interest in photography, employing the latest in technology and printing equipment to help capture his artistic vision. He now focuses on landscapes and nature.
Following his move to the Caribbean, John rekindled his interest in photography, employing the latest in technology and printing equipment to help capture his artistic vision.
He was voted “Best Photographer on St. John” in the Virgin Islands Daily News readers’ poll in 2006, 2007 and 2009. He has published work in People Magazine, Portfolio, American Art Glass, American Craft, Arizona Arts and Travel, Art Space, Glass Art Society Journal, Sculptural Glass, Airbrush Digest, and the Virgin Islands National Park’s “Kapok Chronicles.”
In addition to the images offered on these pages, John is always happy discuss commission work.