by Jürgen Warschun
Okay, someone gave the island the name “Hispaniola”, but really nobody on this island would say something like “I live on Hispaniola island”, and nobody says “I’ve been on holiday to Hispaniola”. If there’s a name which is used by the locals, then it’s “Quisqueya”, the island’s name before Christopher Columbus arrived.
One part is the “la República Dominicana”. For many people it’s “the Dom Rep”, as shortened and spoof as this name is the knowledge about it. It’s meant to be a kind of paradise, with white beaches, fringed with coconut palms.
The other part is “Ayití”, Haiti. A source of bad news. It’s usually presented as a kind of hell: if you’re not killed by cholera, landslides, earthquakes, or tornados, then you’ll probably be raped, kidnapped, tortured, or killed. A no go area.
This makes that I’m, more or less, the only street photographer around. The prejudices about the countries are bullshit. None of them is a paradise and none of them is hell. But beyond the all-inclusive holiday resorts it’s a “terra incognita”. Unknown terrain. Waiting to be discovered.
The advantage of being the only one is, certainly, being always “off the beaten track”. With some exceptions: Magnum photographers Bruce Gilden (“Haiti – Dreams and Nightmares”, 1997) and Alex Webb (“Under a grudging sun”, 1989) have been to Haiti.
I’ve been taking photos since about 2007. I came here in 2000, the original reason was windsurfing and kitesurfing. After having been here for a couple of years, I bought my first DSLR with long 70-200mm and 400mm telephoto lenses, to capture surfers, but later I was hooked by street photography and bought short lenses, 12mm, 16mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm.
There’s not a lot of sightseeing places on this island, but a wealth of color, light and shadows, and interesting, sometimes funny street scenery. A lot of imperfection and extemporization.
I shoot often in the early mornings, but at midday or even at night as well, on sunny days and in the rain on flooded streets. Stories and decisive moments as well as more abstract or poetic pictures. Both: black and white and color. All kind sof cams: DSLR, small system cams, or compacts. All kinds of lenses: (ultra) wide angle and tele, AF or MF lenses, or even lensbabies.
Street photography makes me look closer, think deeper about other’s and my own life. It’s often a kind of meditation to me.
The reason for combining two pictures to a diptych is that I'm just starting to print my pictures into a book, so I need a left and a right side.
Home: Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Profession: "Jack-of-all-trades"; I've often been teaching English, Spanish, Windsurfing, Photography; been a trainer for executives and sales staff
Hobby: of course: photography; and: gardening in our stunning tropical garden; and: motorbiking
Last book read: David Graeber: "Bullshit jobs. A theory."
Favorite quote: "Denken heißt Überschreiten" (Ernst Bloch) ... in English: "Thinking means crossing / exceeding / transcending"
Favorite drink: "Jugo de chinola" (Passionfruit juice)