Miss Universe US Virgin Islands

Any time I get to run around with two types of cameras on the beach I remember why I love what I do. Over the course of 4 months my team and I crafted the photo and video elements for what would be Carolyn Carter's 2016 Miss Universe run. 

The project started in New York City where a small, but nimble, team filmed Carolyn's week long preparations for Ms. Universe. This involved her inaugural Miss Universe photoshoot with Fadil Bursha, runway training with Lu Sierra and working with her costume designer Martin Izqeurido.  I paired with long time friend and amazing cinematographer Jamal Solomon to help me craft a sensible documentary visual look. We knew from the beginning we'd be shooting on the c100. Its a very light and capable camera and helped us immensely with the amount of locations we had. Added to that fact I was also editing this project I didn't want anything with a heavy file type. These videos would live online, no need to muddy up my hard drives with heavy RED or ALEXA footage. 


Carolyn & I were very in sync on the look and feel she wanted for this project. From the photos to the video we wanted to make sure her bright and positive attitude came across in everything. We also wanted an aesthetic that took on a tone of a Documentary film. Carolyn has been doing pageant work for years and I wanted to make sure that we captured just how polished and precise that that process is. 

I doubt many of us know what it truly means to represent a country. How do you do it? That question dawned on me as the 2nd portion of our campaign started up in the US Virgin Islands.  

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The answer to the question above… It ain’t easy. But if you start with being an amazing person you'll have an easier time representing your country.

Our schedule was packed sun up to sun down. We experienced a vacation through a looking glass only. No time to enjoy it, just smile big as that windswept beach passes you by… That isn’t to say we didn’t venture to some great places. A mountain trek Tan Tan tour, Scuba Diving off the coast and Carolyn volunteering her at AZ Academy which sits on one of the highest points in the USVI.  Everything was jam packed. Carolyn had speaking engagements as well as different out reach efforts that she passionate about. With her being on her home turf she was adamant about getting out into her community and continuing to do some good. The woman put a typical work week to shame it was on the rest of us to keep up with her. 

One of the most common questions Carolyn received during her tour was "Is Miss Universe still owned by Donald Trump?" I'm happy to say that it isn't. Due to his horrible way with words and people (still amazed that idiot will be president) he was pushed out of the organization. 


I’ve known Carolyn for years, she’s competed in several pageants around the world including Miss World, Miss Supernational and Miss Earth. Miss Universe is a beauty competition with a heavy platform to call attention to very important causes the that still plague the world.  Carolyn is an active spokesperson for HIV/AIDs awareness in the Caribbean and it was heartwarming to see an entire Island flock around her to help push her message. In return Carolyn gave 110% to the people she met, and her smile never faded once. I truly felt like I was apart of the family and intern I think we captured some very intimate moments, getting to show both sides of the Miss Universe process was a first for me. Blending the heartfelt moments with her more campaign glam images took some learning, you'll find in most jobs you're doing one or the other and it was very interesting to make both Superstar & Superhero work in tandem. From start to finish this gig was amazing, a big thank you to Carolyn and her team. Keep a look out for her this year as she competes in Miss Universe 2016. 

Director & Photographer: Michael Cooke

Produced By: Michael Cooke & Alison Jarvis

Edited By: Michael Cooke 

Cinematographer: Jamal Solomon

2nd Camera: Alexander Bock 

Sound: John McGall 

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