I had the pleasure of going to Jamaica at the end of April in 2022 to catch up on life after the intense Covid lockdowns in Europe. What was originally a 3 week trip ended up lasting over 2 months and I was able to shoot some of Jamaica’s classic statues and locations.
The first stop in my trip was Kingston, the island’s capital. When I arrived it was very overcast, and according to my weather app it was going to rain in the afternoon. April is the rainy season in Jamaica and so there are many cloudy days that are great for taking photos free of shadows, which are necessary for good 3D reproductions.
While I was exhausted from jet lag after flying non-stop from London, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and head off in search of the famous Bob Marley statue, which can be found next to the National Stadium in the south of Kingston.
After a 30 minute drive I arrived, and I have to say that it is not the best location for visitors and tourists. The stadium is empty and desolate in the day, and is located not far from a large very low income housing development. It doesn’t feel very safe, however this is made up by there being a police station immediately across the road from where the statue is located.
The statue can be found at the junction of two small roads, next to a taxi parking lot and a gully, and is opposite the entrance to the stadium. It stands inside a small cement and stone garden surrounded by black iron fence-posts.
With so many beautiful places in Jamaica I have no idea why they chose this spot for such an amazing statue. It is so far from the life of the city and the beauty of the islands beaches, rivers and mountains.
The statue itself is amazing, and has an interesting history as it is actually the second of two statues that were created in Bob’s honor. The first was a surrealistic masterpiece created in 1974 by famous Jamaican artist Christopher Gonzalez, however the Jamaican people said that it didn’t represent Bob the way he was, and it was replaced by the current version which is much more modern and true to life.
The current statue was made in 1982 by Alvin Harris, one of Jamaicas top artists, and took him over a year to complete. It is a life-sized replica of the reggae superstar standing 5 foot 6 inches tall on top of a stone pedestal, and is cast in bronze which shines like gold in the Jamaican sunlight.
It depicts Bob with his long golden dreadlocks, wearing his signature jeans, a long sleeved shirt, and holding an electric guitar in his hands. The attention to detail really makes you feel like he is right next to you when you are there.
There is a plaque in front of the statue, at his feet, which reads:
The Honourable Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley, OM
One Love. One Heart. Let’s get together and feel alright.
Sculptor – Alvin Marriott
Unveiled by the Right Hon. Edward Seaga, MP Prime Minister April 1, 1985
Executed by Senator Olivia “Babsy” Grange
Minister of State, Office of the Prime Minister
I did find it interesting in writing this article why so much of the text is about the prime minister and his team and office, when they could have probably put an entire Bob Marley song there instead. But hey, that’s politics !
Shooting the Bob Marley Statue
I was in luck as they had recently cleaned the statue and so it looked amazing. I took over 400 photos using a combination of a Sony A7 IV handheld camera with two different lenses and a GoPro 9 on a 3 meter selfie stick.
Thanks to the cloudy skies and overcast weather they were all great photos for my 3d reconstruction. The sony was used to collect close-up photos around the statue, shot using a fish-eye lens to get detail at 60MP. I also took quite a few from a distance using a tele-photo to help with the final renderings. The GoPro was used to get photos from the top of the statue in order to capture as much detail as possible.
My shoot lasted around 3 hours, and during the time I was there no one stopped by and no one came to visit the statue. I did get a visit from a local “mad woman” who was walking by, as the stadium is also next to a hospital, however she didn’t stay for long despite having a very interesting perspective on life.
Due to the heat and the humidity I had to take a few breaks, however the shoot was a great success, and the final 3D recreation is pretty much indistinguishable from the actual statue. You can see the detail in his eyes, his beard, his guitar and even in his famous dreadlocks on his back.
Alvin Tolman Marriott was a Jamaican sculptor. He worked in Europe, North and Central America, and Jamaica. Many of his carvings and statues are on public display and in administrative buildings in Jamaica and the UK. Wikipedia
Marriott said that this was his masterpiece, it was also the last statue he did before passing away in 2010. Some of his other works include “The Athlete” another mind blowing statue located inside the stadium not far away.
Due to the pretty drab conditions the original statue can be found in, I decided that when I returned home I would create an alternate version in the metaverse, deep in a lush tropical jungle next to a river in a place that is full of life and that people around the world can come and visit Bob online and remember him as he truly was.