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The Passions of Eli Fuller

Eli FullerOver the years, I heard about him. I've been referred to him for a myriad or reasons. I've read some of his articles, and I've even spoken with him via telephone. But I have only just recently had the pleasure of interviewing Eli Fuller as one of Antigua’s talented people.

Given time constraints and editorial limitations however, I was forced to choose what section or area of his life, training, experience, and interests to focus on.

For those who know him, you can imagine how this was difficult to do, since he is involved in so many things. Should I write about Eli Fuller the writer? Eli Fuller the sailor... nature and ocean lover? Eli Fuller the activist? Or Eli Fuller the photographer/artist? It was a bit of a task, since all aspects intertwine and help to make the man who today is Eli Fuller. Originally, I had hoped to write about his photography, but after doing a bit more research I realized that was only the tip of the iceberg as it relates to his accomplishments – kite-surfing, fishing, snorkeling, beachcombing, camping, travelling, archaeology, photography, and surfing.

Eli has an uncompromising love for Antigua, its ecology and history. He is a self-described “Antiguan waterman” who uses various methods to show how interesting island life is, especially when the ocean is respected and cherished.Ech tour day

He was born to John and Jill Fuller in London, England.  All three came back to Antigua shortly after Eli’s birth, and just after his dad passed the bar exams. The Fullers are a big, close-knit family in Antigua, most of them growing up on Dutchmans Bay right on the beach, with a resulting love for the sea and all its wonders.

As a child, Eli attended a local Catholic school and spent most of his time boating around Antigua and Barbuda. Snorkeling was a favorite water activity and he reportedly started wearing a mask before he learned how to speak. At age 12, he learned how to windsurf and began competing internationally. He represented Antigua in several competitions, including in the XXIVth Olympiad, held in Seoul, South Korea, and at age 16 was the youngest competitor in the windsurfing division.

Kite surfingAt Florida Tech University, Eli received a Bachelor of Science degree in business management. He then moved to Maui, Hawaii ,where he trained for the Pro Windsurfing Tour. He travelled mainland Europe, Greece, Brazil, Hawaii, the Canaries, and the USA, and returned home when he could no longer bear missing Antigua. Upon his return, he worked in the hospitality industry, then started his own tour business, Adventure Antigua, which he recently expanded.  Now, after 16 years of international competition, he has retired from regular windsurfing competitions.

Although Eli loves to motivate people through his photograph and his writing, he does not consider himself an artist per se.  For him, he started out in photography just as a hobby since he did a course in University.  Once he started his tour company, it became a part of his livelihood.  He says “When I started my company I had little or no budget to speak of and I had to become very good at marketing in order to get tourists interested in my tours. Photography was key in that respect, especially with the internet. I put my photos on my websites and on message boards and also used them when making my brochures and other marketing materials.

The first time Eli exhibited his photos was at the Woods Gallery when it first opened. Lots of people were quite surprised that he was even involved in photography. Some of his pieces were used by the amazing photographer and publisher Alexis Andrews in his book, Images. Many tourism guides and magazines have used Eli’s images, and in recent times, photography dominates most of his professional time. He has done a small amount of art gallery work, and is hoping to do a lot more in the future. But for now, he says, his photography is geared more towards promoting his business.Classic

Eli says he is equally as interested in writing as he is in photography, and would love to do more than just blogs someone, but his current focus is on further developing his business.

There is absolutely no doubt that his childhood has influenced his character and his choice of profession. His mom, he says, is the real artist, and more of a painter and sculptor. “I was never interested in art as a kid and it wasn’t until I was in university that I discovered photography and then became interested in it as an art,” he says.

According to Eli, his drive comes from a deep-rooted desire to show the average person something they would not normally get a chance to witness, and he is motivated to show a different and unique side of Antigua. His ultimate hope is that they may become interested in the subject itself.

Armed with his digital camera, this photographer says all he has to do is be near the coast or on the water and the action begins. Processing the photos, however, is more tricky: “I need to be in the right frame of mind to take another look at the photos. I love getting up early and going through the photos. I can easily take 300 photos while out on the boat, and most people will only ever see a few of them. Writing is the same way. For me to get excited about writing, about describing a particular experience, I have to be very relaxed and quiet... usually at home.”

Eli Fuller photoEli considers himself to be one of the most patriotic Antiguan and Barbudans anywhere. “We don’t have a culture of conservation and that is often upsetting to me," he says. "I often use my photography and writing in the hopes of changing that. I think some level of environmentalism connects most of my work. I want people to read my blog about gill netting, see the images and then take a stance against gill netting when called to. The same with sand mining, whaling and all the other issues that I write about and take photos of.”

One of the most memorable moments of his career was the work he did for the International Coastal Cleanup this year. "I feel bad calling it work, but writing about the cleanup and taking photos got quite a few people motivated and excited," he says. "Hopefully some change can come about as a result. This is exciting and is memorable... for this week at least.”

While doing this interview, he recieved a telephone call from the general manager of a popular resort, who was at a loss as to who he should call. One of his security officers had killed a sea turtle, and he was very upset. The manager and his guests would often see this turtle taking air just off the point, and it seems to have been there for years. The new Fisheries Act, which was finished three years ago, hasn’t been put into law yet, and apparently it was still legal to kill turtles between September 1 and the end of April.  It is exactly this sort of situation that drives Eli to take photos – to at least try to motivate people into taking a stance to protecting ocean and marine life.

He labels as unforgettable, the jellyfish photo he took back in June 2005, and recounts the moment: “My brother and I were taking a small boat from Miami to Antigua and were almost home. It had been rough and dangerous. We stopped for a bite to eat and a swim in the BVI. This beautiful moon jellyfish was all lit up in the early morning light.”  Eli says it is experiences like those that influence his “work”.

 
Major advancements in technology, moreso the internet, have shaped his work tremendously, and he continues to use all of these new media tools to show his work.  www.adventureantigua.com is his company website; www.antiguaisland.blogspot.com is his blog - where many of his photos end up, and www.flickr.com/photos/antiguan is a collection of  his photos.

His advice to aspiring photographers is to grab a digital camera and go and shoot things that make you happy whenever you see them. “I think you have to know what it is that makes you happy and then taking photos of these things will be easy," he says. "You don’t have to have a great camera to take a great photo. Some of my best were taken with cheap digitals. What’s important to me is the subject and your view of it.” 

What’s next for Eli ? 

He says “…going out to sea or to the coast in the hope of catching a glimpse of something amazing. It’s a sure bet.”

 

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5 Comments In This Article   

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#5 Reader » 2009-12-15 23:52

did I not see this very same article in All at Sea? Good article though.
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Reader

Coopin

#4 fed up » 2009-11-25 03:06

COOPIN YOU ARE A DUNCE AT BEST.....THE WRITER'S TALKING ABOUT ELI FULLERS LIFE AND YOUR BRINGING IN POLITRICKS.......ON ANOTHER NOTE BIG UP TO ELI....DO WHAT YOU DO MAN.....BLESS!!!!
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fed up

Politician

#3 coopin » 2009-11-01 07:21

One Fuller in politics,ALP,take millions of tax payers money to England and bye five bedroomed house,farrari an so........No we do not want another Fuller in politics thank you!
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coopin

Exciting

#2 Semone » 2009-10-20 07:17

This was very interesting and exciting piece. did not know that Eli was a phtographer. good work!
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Semone

Good Work, Eli.

#1 Nel » 2009-10-19 23:09

How did I miss this one?? Nice write up. Eli's photos are amazing! I remember I stumbled upon an exhibition over at Woods and there was one great shot that I still want all now. Next step, Eli the politician. :)
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Nel

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