Barbados Island Life

Craig Burleigh is an American born, Bajan bred, San Francisco Bay Area based professional photographer. He grew up on Rockley Beach with sand between his toes from 1955 to 1965 and at Lamming’s St. Joseph and Edgecliff, St. John later on.

Craig has been scanning his back-catalogue of Barbados photographs from the 1970s and is sharing them on his new website: Barbados Island Life. The Barbados Island Life site is primarily a way for Craig to display the many documentary photographs of Barbados life that are in his files. In addition as he uploads and shares more of his scanned photos, he will be writing commentaries that expand on Bajan life as they relate to his collection of photos.

1961 – Rockley Beach. Photo: Craig Burleigh.
Barbados Island life photographs and stories by Craig Burleigh
1961 – John, Craig & Lois Burleigh – Sandy Ways, Rockley, Barbados. Photo: Craig Burleigh.

Craig writes about his memories from those years growing up in Barbados – Hurricane Janet in September 1955 – watching the roof of Torrington Guest House fly off, walking down the beach to go to school, swimming, skin diving, boating along the coast with his brother, learning to stand up surf and of course the usual activities such as bicycle rides all over the island.

Craig says Barbados in the 1950s to 1970s was a fantastic place to be!

In the early 1970s Craig went to England to study photography at the West Surrey College of Art & Design near Guildford.

Craig told us his family’s move in 1965 to the Barbados “hill country” – 1000 feet up at the top of the island near Sugar Hill with its close proximity to the county people and life, so deeply affected him that, years later he photographed Sugar Hill and the country lifestyle for his West Surrey College of Art & Design graduation project. He still considers those images to be among his most valuable.

Craig returned to Barbados in 1974 and continued with his motor sport photos, island scenic views for local calendars, documentary images for publisher Thomas Nelson, portraits, weddings and large format 4×5 inch scenery and fine mahogany furniture.

In 1976 with Jackie Faine (his then girlfriend and now wife of forty plus years) Craig started writing articles about Bajan island life. Craig says finding and scanning the negatives or slides that formed those stories is one thing, finding the actual written articles to rebuild them is proving problematic. If anyone has copies of Hers magazine or Caribbean Digest from 1976 to 1981 he would love to see them.

Looking back Craig says he’s been very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time to photograph some history – the arrival of Thor Heyerdahl and Ra II in 1970, Queen Elizabeth II’s visit in 1975 when she knighted Sir Garfield Sobers, her Silver Jubilee tour two years later when she returned from Barbados to England on her first flight in Concorde.

Craig and Jackie moved to California at the end of 1981 and after working in a local photo lab as a printer and supervisor, Craig returned to full-time photography in 1987 setting up his own photography business Burleigh Photo specialising in high quality photography for estate agents (realtors) and interior designers.

Craig told us his goal for the Barbados Island Life website is for conversations to develop in the “comments” sections. You can view all areas of the website, but to join the conversations in the “comments” you will need to register. Some of the photographs can also be purchased via Craig’s online print-shop.

Most of the photographs on Barbados Island Life were taken in the 1970s – so they are 40 to 50 years old! They are an amazing collection of evocative memories of Barbados life back in the 1970s.

We look forward to following Craig as he shares more of his back-catalogue of Bajan memories on his new website: Barbados Island Life.

Below is a feed from Craig Burleigh’s new website Bajan Island Life:

4 thoughts on “Barbados Island Life”

  1. Craig was in my Science 6th class at HC 1968-70, and won the last photographic club competition that we competed in in 1970.
    I am so happy to read and hear that he was smart enough to continue being a photographer.
    Dr Victor Brooks

    1. Hey Victor, thanks for the comment.
      I was happy to have found something I could do other than surfing! It has allowed me to shift concentration amongst the various fields of photography. Documentary is my favourite, but the weird thing is I have no interest in doing documentary photos of anywhere other than Barbados and the other Caribbean islands (have stuff from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and two visits to Trinidad Carnival)
      All the best. Craig.

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