Noted local photographer Antoine Ferrier sadly passed away on Sunday, November 6th after a short illness. He died at the Princess Margaret Hospital, on his birthday, at the age of 75.
Charles Antoine Ferrier was born in Gonaives on November 6, 1941 in The Republic of Haiti. During the course of his formative years and early adulthood, he pursued and completed his formal education in Port-au-Prince.
Ferrier first became interested in photography as a teenager. He initially used his mother’s camera to take photographs of friends and family to create a visual record of his school lessons. In the 1950s, a local photographer, George Poliard, who had been trained at the historic black college Tuskegee Institute in Tennessee, loaned the teenager and his friends the money to purchase cameras and made the quarters underneath his house available as a darkroom.
In 1965-66, Ferrier moved to Nassau. He first found work as a photographer shooting voter’s registration cards at the Parlimentary office at the historic moment when many black Bahamians were voting for the first time. In this capacity, Ferrier would meet a number of young black politicians, many of whom would subsequently become political leaders. He would create some of the most iconic representations of these political figures, most notably the photograph of Sir Linden Oscar Pindling that circulates on the Bahamian one dollar bill. In 1965, he worked with photographer Lenny Jarvis at Jarvis Studio, which was located on Wulff Road.
In 1975-1979, Ferrier opened the studio Antoine on Baillou Hill Road, which relocated to Hawkins Hill in 1979. Ferrier embraced the arts and had a great passion and love for portrait photography.
In March 2008, Ferrier’s portraits, along with the photography of fellow Bahamian photographers Maxwell Stubbs, Cleveland Eneas, and Sanford Sawyer were included in a formal photography exhibition held at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas and curated by Bahamian art historian and educator Krista A. Thompson, Phd. It was entitled “Developing Blackness: Studio Photographs of ‘Over the Hill’ Nassau in the Independence Era”. This seminal exhibition explored the meaning and importance of photography within the black communities of Grant’s Town and Bain Town in Nassau, in an area popularly known as “Over the Hill,” in the 1950s through 1970s. Eighteen of his black and white portraits were showcased featuring notable Bahamians including entertainers Leroy “Smokey 007” Cleveland McKenzie and Ezra Hepburn and boxer Leonard “Boston Blackie” Miller.
Press Club President Anthony Newbold described Mr. Ferrier as a professional and a gentleman who brought honour to the profession. “Mr. Ferrier was appointed as one of the esteemed judges for the Press Club Media Awards scheduled for November 19, 2016. He was chosen as a judge because of that professionalism and the respect he has earned over the years in his chosen vocation, and the objectivity he could always be counted on to provide. His presence will be missed,” Mr. Newbold noted.
A statement released by The Bahamas Press Club states: the profession of journalism and mass communications certainly benefitted from the expertise Mr. Ferrier displayed and shared over the many decades as he captured the very essence of Bahamian way of life, news and official events and portraits.
Ferrier is survived by is wife, Leona Ferrier (nee) Sylven; one daughter Robyn Ferrier-Rahming and four grand children.
Information provided by The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas publication: “Developing Blackness: Studio Photographs of ‘Over the Hill’ Nassau in the Independence Era” and The Bahamas Press Club.