Ras Mykkal

Bermuda Day Grand Marshal 2023, A Bermudian Renaissance

From an early age, sports photographer Ras Mykkal (born Garry T. Simons) stood out from the pack. He didn’t consider himself particularly academic, but excelled in all things creative and was a self-confessed “free-thinker” and “lover of the great outdoors”. He was passionate about sports and participated in cricket, football and later motocross, which opened up a world of opportunity for him.

His interest in motocross was first sparked in 1979, when he joined the Bermuda Auto-Cycle Union as a course marshal. Soon after, he bought a motocross race license and started competing in the 250cc novice class. The following year, he took on more responsibility as the Union’s Public Relations Officer and bought his first camera – an Olympia IS-10. By honing his photography skills, he was able to provide local newspapers with photos to accompany their reviews, interviews and previews of the motocross season.

Ras Mykkal continued to race for another 18 years – and when he wasn’t on the track you could often find him photographing the races. In 1993, he was named President of the Bermuda Auto-Cycle Union.

In 1997, Ras Mykkal enrolled into the New York Institute of Photography and earned a qualification as professional photographer. He devoted the next 15 years to working for a number of media publications and provided coverage for many sporting clubs, which had never received exposure before. Outside of his photography, Ras Mykkal also served as a writer, poet and the host of a popular radio programme on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, Reggae Vibes. In 1996, while living in Jamaica, he began writing what has been coined as ‘the most politically charged poetry in Bermuda’s history’. Aiming to challenge the Island’s political establishment to do better, Ras Mykkal was often censored and faced pressures from both political sides. Eventually, he pressed pause on that endeavor and decided to delve deeper into photography, turning his focus to creating picture books that would preserve his photos and serve as an archive of Bermuda’s history.

Over the years, he has released a number of books – starting with ’Click, I Got Yah’ in 2011 and followed by ‘Bermuda’s Flying Flower’, a book documenting the life cycle of Bermuda’s butterflies. He also released a keepsake book entitled ‘Nicknames’, which documented Bermuda’s many characters and personalities and the background stories behind how they got their nicknames. In 2020, he launched Bermuda’s first digital sports magazine, The Bermuda Sports Journal; and in 2022, he created a book chronicling the 50-year history of motocross sports in Bermuda.