Eye on Wendell the lensman
WHETHER YOU GOT “scrawled up” on a Saturday night or enjoyed a Frisky Friday, chances are you were snapped by Wendell Bailey.
EASY turned the focus onto the photographer recently, who was no doubt still catching his breath after a hectic Crop Over. Even for a true lover of the season, Wendell’s weekends could be a bit much. He would take in as many as four fetes per night (and early morning) before heading off to his staple job as a baker at Purity Bakeries.
Oh, and he doesn’t have a car. He gets around with some help from his friends, public transport and taxis.
But he has managed to find the recipe for the right balance.
The photographer’s Facebook fanpage has generated over 7 000 “likes” for albums chock-full of smiling faces and wining bumpers, taken at a wide range of events across the island.
The “50-plus-year-old” remains grounded about his achievements thus far.
“I take good pictures sometimes,” Wendell said modestly in a mid-morning interview at the Nation’s offices in Fontabelle, St Michael.
“ . . . I want that when you see my photos there is a ‘wow effect’ and I am nowhere near that.”
Wendell’s photo story depicts humble “point and shoot” beginnings after a friend encouraged him to take photos at events. Soon, he was taking pictures at Scrawl Up when it was still being held at The Workshop in Westbury Road, St Michael.
“One day I was told to come early because [the Scrawl Up team] had a surprise for me. I thought it was a bottle of rum or something . . . then they presented a camera to me. I started crying right on the spot,” he remembered.
“The one they gave me was a DSLR and more high-end than the others [and] I started off using it on automatic [settings] . . . . I went on YouTube and [watched] videos and learned how to operate the camera. So instead of the camera controlling me, I started to control the camera.”
As his profile started to become more prominent, he caught the attention of other photographers – some of whom even gave him pointers on how to improve.
“One person that gave me inspiration was Alwyn Kirk, who would give me advice on what and what not to do.”
And the better and more involved he became, the more professional he became.
Even though Wendell was working, he still ensured that he had a good time. In fact, in many of his albums there are one or two pictures of the former dancer enjoying himself.
He also encouraged others to have a ball “after spending good money” to attend an event.
“Everyone likes to pose, but I want people to see it was a good party. I don’t like to see that everyone dressed and at 4 a.m. you still look dry and fresh. You spend good money; try and enjoy it,” he said.
But it is not always fun and good vibes.
Wendell revealed that he has lost a girlfriend to photography – and perhaps was not the only one.
“Some people might ask me to delete pictures, [for example] someone’s boyfriend would lean over to tell a woman something, and it might actually be innocent but they may look like they are kissing. But I believe if you know your man or your woman, a photo can’t break you up.
“And if you know that you shouldn’t be [at the event] and don’t want your picture taken, your girlfriend may have friends at the party as well.”
In addition, Wendell had his camera and laptop stolen by someone who was known to him about “two or three years ago”. The equipment was recovered, but no longer worked. And once again, his friends at Scrawl Up stepped in to assist, adding to Wendell’s personal financial investment.
Wendell has since acquired more supplies with the aim of branching out into different forms of photography.
For the father of three daughters (including dancer Ghelisa Mayers), taking photos is but one of the things he has tried his hand at.
Wendell, alias Cowboy from his dancing days, also used to play football, cricket, made hand-made postcards and was a drummer in a Christian band.
And this list truly can go on.