|Written by Paul Mahoney|
|Tuesday, 14 July 2009 07:56|
What is your name?
Where are you based?
In the Dominican Republic
How would you describe what you do?
I am an expressionist photographer and documentalist videographer using my skills and interests to provide visual paths and increase the awareness of the people of my country (and all else that care to see) on the actual conditions of our environment and the human impact on it.
Who or what inspires you in your photography and why cover nature and conservation issues?
Being a biology/zoology undergraduate and artist, I am inspired by the diversity and fragility of island ecosystems.
Photography and video are perfect to document the conditions as they are today, and I use graphic and pictorial aesthetics to make the images more pleasing.
I strive to impact the viewers and direct their attention on the individual image so they would want to preserve just as they see it in the photo or video. I wish to provoke a sense of newness and loneliness on viewing each image so even if the locations and places are known to the viewer, they will be seen more intimately on a personal plane.
I have learned that the need for conservation of the environment is the result of uncontrolled population growth, consumption until depletion of resources and generation of discarded remains of both the production as consumption processes. It’s really all about people and people’s actions these days.
What is the essence that you are trying to capture?
I try to evoke a feeling of intimacy and closeness to generate a bond of the spectator with the image shown and with the environment it represents.
Has technology hindered or enhanced your photography?
I learned the craft with intense study and lots of practice, my first camera was a Leica IIIf then a Pentax ME, later a Nikon F2AS, I then added a Yashica 124 and finally a beautiful Sinar F. I developed all the film and did all the printing myself, enjoying all the lab work. I still today miss doing it.
I had to adapt my workflow to move on to digital. The discipline of the chemical medium helped me do this and nowadays I am comfortable and happy with CF cards and Photoshop. Today’s full frame digital cameras provide near medium format quality and so I do believe digital has enhanced my capabilities by allowing me to work lighter while getting images previously only obtainable with heavier equipment.
What is your favourite place in nature?
Psico-emotionally I like to be a participant observer interacting with the environment. I love to feel part of nature and I don’t accept being just a passive observer, my needs to be in contact with nature are only refilled by being in it.
Personally I just love to go back to Las Salinas de Bani and walk the dunes and feel never stopping breeze of the bay.
From your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?
Demographically we humans are overpopulated and culturally conformed to live and function as if we were abstracted from nature. The planet is managed as our resource warehouse and our dumpster.
Too few people are taking into account the planet’s exhaustion point for both.
How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues?
I think the media should be more radical in respect to the point of view from which to tell stories.Nature/environment, fauna/flora documentaries should be produced beginning with the impact already done to increase awareness on what to remedy while we can.
The time to produce light political impact but high visual beauty travel documentaries has passed, high impact visuals and narratives that bring awareness and change minds and practices are required.
If you could give one message to G8 leaders on climate change, what would it be?
Stop thinking regionally, make policies and decisions based on the worst global indicators in all cases, we need changes that diminish our environmental impact and human populations need to control growth.
We need this to occur rapidly or it will be too late and the "Soylent Green" stage will begin. No policies work without taking into consideration the livelihood, productivity and sustainability of the regional human group it impacts.
What are you working on at the moment?
My project closer to fruition is a visual study of the small town of Las Salinas of Bani Province in the DR and its surroundings.
Shows are being programmed to display images and video while environmental sounds are played.
This town is populated by descendants of Canary Island Spaniards brought in during the 1500/1600 to farm the lands, to produce salt in evaporation ponds and to fish.
The salt ponds are the first in the Americas and still in production.
These ponds occur naturally in the peninsula due to how low the surface of the ground is above sea level.
Over-fishing has caused this industry to be in the stage it’s operation is measured in gallons of gasoline to reach fishing areas.
About twenty five years ago it would take one gallon of gasoline/boat (a single outboard motor Caribbean wooden yola) to get a catch of about one half a ton, now it’s seven gallons and high risk of no catch.
Lately the fishermen that are left are becoming bodega clerks, the rest has sailed to Puerto Rico looking for better livelihood.
The families of those that left are nowadays single mothers with small children living off odd jobs.
Surrounding this town are the Dunes of Bani, with their fine grey and sparkling sands rich in feldspar and the delicate mangroves that surround the inner Las Calderas bay.
I have worked this area over the past six years.
Where are you going next?
I am working on how to produce a docu-drama film on the lives of left behind women of Las Salinas and their natural environment.
Many needs could be met if these people would be more integrated with nature by developing lobster cultures or producing handcrafts with local resources and the likes. They receive no support from government or NGO’s and have no knowledge on how to improve their condition.
As these women look like modern day Europeans, I wish to include research on the family origins of some of the local families and try to trace living parents in the Canary Islands using DNA sampling and face recognition. I also want to include the potential to change this community to be self-sustaining with integration to the environment.
What would you like to remembered for?
My work documenting natural areas and the environment of the Dominican Republic I was honoured to live in.