Dame Peters, who is from the Virgin Islands, owns his own photography business and has been taking professional photos for years. The H. Lavity Stoutt Community College alumnus came full circle recently by photographing the 2018 graduates, and gave the new class advice about following their passions. The following are his words, edited and condensed by Amanda Ulrich.

Love of photography

I started [my company] part-time in 2011, so almost eight years ago. I grew up in a household where my parents always took photographs of us, starting out with the old Polaroids. And we’ve always had family albums — stacks and stacks of family albums — so I grew a love for capturing, and just having, those photographic memories and being able to look back on them.

I started shooting as a hobby, because I love capturing memories, and people started asking me to take photos for them and pay me and I was like, “Oh, this is great.” But I also worked under some other professional photographers, so I got some training from them, and I studied on my own online and so forth.

HLSCC alumnus

I am an alumnus of H. Lavitty Stoutt Community College. I think it a great stepping stone for any student, especially coming from the secondary schools. It’s a good first step to the tertiary education. I just think it’s a wonderful thing for them to do here.

I did not [study photography]. I actually don’t think they have photography courses now, but I studied technology — computer science. That’s always been a field of interest for me, and it continues to be a field of interest for me. All of my roles and career paths have taken me through information technology. There’s just a passion in photography and filmmaking that I sort of lean towards. But I’ll never give up the technology side.

Technical background

It’s definitely helped me to have that [technological] background, because in my studies here I was taught how to build websites, graphic design, and how to manipulate certain software to create certain graphical representations.

That’s helped a great deal in photography and filmmaking. When you take a photo, that’s one step, and the second step is to master it and to produce it, develop it. A lot of that technical training at the college helped a great deal.

I have no idea how many [graduations I’ve photographed]. I’ve lost count. It’s been secondary schools, primary schools, tertiary schools — I’ve just lost count. I think they’re all special, because it’s a very special moment, and I just think all of them are special in their own way.

Advice to grads

I would encourage [2018 graduates] to not limit themselves and to look at anything and everything as an opportunity for them — not to just simply say that they studied one thing and they have an interest in one thing and ignore everything else. I would just say to look at the possibilities of other opportunities.

I would like to see a large percentage of BVIslanders, or people who grew up here and went to school here, actually create a career here. But I do think it’s important for them to go abroad and broaden their horizons, learn more about the world, and then bring some lessons back.