Man in Float
Excerpt from It's Not About the F-Stop:
Very early in my career, I so much wanted to go everywhere. As it worked out, I didn’t get to Europe until I was 32 years old, but I did get to Haiti early on. I always dreamt of Haiti being exotic and mysterious.
I’ve now been playing conga drums since I was 25. The unfortunate part is I’ve gotten worse each year. My drumming is a contradiction of the quote by Bucky Fuller: “You always learn more; you can never learn less.”
I was a few years into the business. I put a few bucks together and went to Haiti. This was a land of voodoo, artists, and magnificent drumming. I would photograph them all.
Everyone said I must photograph Ti Roro. I met him. He was spectacular, a showman, technically amazing, a tour de force of drumming. I was not impressed.
What did impress me was when I heard the drumming of the guy who worked at my hotel. He and his friend were fantastic as they morphed together and apart in the rhythms. No heroes, no solos, just the melding of different drummers in and out of wonderful variations.
Voodoo? Forget it. It’s there, but what tourists see is all a sham. Artists? They’re wonderful. Haiti has more artists per capita than anywhere else in the world.
I bought wildly on my limited budget. One thing I bought was a large goatskin rug. All small sections sewn together. And each section with a heart in it. Each one different from all the others.
I bargained (you have to—the seller assumes you will). I got it. I took it home. I treasured it and there it was, a month later. A notice on TV and in the papers: “Goat skin rugs from Haiti may have anthrax. They must be destroyed.”
One thing that worked out well was that I was there at Carnivale. This is equivalent to the riotous one in Rio de Janeiro, but smaller.
Haitians are creative in costume, choreography, and music. It was a wonderful treat. Usually when I go for this kind of thing, I go for the audience rather than the performance. There was such a commitment and elegance in the participants that I had to work on them, too.
When I show this picture, many people ask, “Is it a dead guy?” (Possibly they think this because he’s surrounded by satin.) The answer is no. He’s a very alive guy, driving one of the floats in the parade.
Very often, there’s a possibility that people will misinterpret or reinterpret your work. Sometimes it can drive you crazy. Other times, you may learn something from it.
You never know.
From the Haiti collection
Haiti was one of the first times I traveled in a “foreign” country. I had always wanted to go there. It was mysterious. It was exotic. It had more artists per capita than any other country. It had great music and fantastic drumming and “Voodoo.” I was going to experience it all.
Of course, I interacted very little with these things. I was swept along by the sheer energy of the place. Every day was filled with wonder and anxiety and a desperate attempt to catch the quality of life which at that time, though full of hardships, was much better than today.
I went twice. Once before Papa Doc Duvalier and one after him. The first time in 1957 and a second time in 1973. I have only one image in the series from 1957, and all the rest have yet to be found. It is the only shoot that I can’t find. Everything else is from the 1973 trip. If I ever find 1957, I’ll put it up.
Paper & Printing
Epson Legacy Baryta
Baryta paper has a white, smooth satin finish with the look and feel of the revered silver halide F-surface darkroom papers and provides excellent image permanence.
13x19 prints are placed on backing board inside a clear plastic bag. They are then packaged in a custom 15x21x3 corrugated box protected inside 3 inches of charcoal foam. More about shipping...
20x30 prints are shipped flat in MasterPak PrintPak Art Shipping Sleeves. A "container within a container" with multiple layers of protection.
Dye-Sublination onto Aluminum (Metal)
Transferring the print to aluminum produces a vivid, archival quality print that is scratch resistant, doesn’t require glass or framing, and is lightweight and easy to hang. More about the paper...
Metal prints are shipped in a sturdy 44x63x3 wooden crate. More about shipping...