I was fortunate enough to spend four days filming and making photographs in the Dominican Republic with an incredible non-profit, Plant with Purpose, or as they are called in the DR, Floresta, a couple weeks ago. I am currently working on a film that will assist in telling the story of how they help enable rural farmers to provide and create incredible lives for themselves and their families by using sustainable agriculture practices and participating in locally operated VSL (village savings and loans) groups.
On our second day, we spent time in the beautiful community of El Aguacero. I was able to take portraits, both video and stills and wanted to share just a taste of who I met.
Kelsey sent me an article a couple days ago about deep looking at the one you love. “Understanding is the essence of love. If you cannot understand, you cannot love.” It really called for a stronger effort of our concentration for those we love, of my love toward others. As this thought and energy has been running through my mind, so to have the eyes of the farmers from El Aguacero.
It’s my passion and task every time I pick up a camera, to first create that trust, that moment of connection, before I ever take a photograph. Being able to fully understand someone in a couple of moments is impossible, but by building a small relationship with your eyes first, it becomes a much more meaningful photograph. I am not a safari shooter or street portrait taker. I strive to only take photographs and film of people of whom I’ve taken a moment to first connect, as the yield is so much richer, more powerful.
The first farmers name is Francisco. I have the names of the other three, but I am unable to translate as their speech is very quick on video. So I will update when the video is fully translated. These farmers are providing for their families and their communities, each and every day. And what incredible stories their eyes have to tell.
I am still very young in my ability to express exactly what I am feeling, but I know that photographs and film can help me. These eyes evoke something special for me, knowing how much hard work they put into their farms, into their survival, they are much more than just beautiful people. They are love; a powerful spirit of selflessness. A reminder that together, individual contributions into a community will produce an intensely rich soil where growth, relationships and protection of each other becomes the pride. When you have little, it seems objects and physical things are not the goal, but the heart and soul, and that of your neighbors, become the most important crop to tend.
Thank you to all those associated with Plant with Purpose and the beautiful work you are doing in this world. And thank you to the farmers who so trustfully allowed me to take such intimate photographs in such a short period of time, I hope your eyes and stories will inspire and touch those who most need it.