Haiti-based photographer Samuel Dameus has a lot in common with Frederick Ives, the man who captured the images of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Like Ives, Sameus’ native country Haiti was hit by a disastrous earthquake, and like the 20th Century photographer, Dameus’ increased interest in photography started with the acclaim he received for his post-disaster photos. He was contacted by news agency EuroNews to be part of the team behind Silent Disaster: One Year Later, a documentary on the Haiti earthquake. This breakthrough provoked an interest in social photography. He recently made a stop in Miami to release a Haiti photo book and for a photo exhibit.
Kreyolicious: What’s the most memorable photo from your childhood?
During my childhood in Haiti, having ones picture taken was a luxury. You either had to go to a photographer’s studio or hire one to come to you. I have an positive experience that has remained engraved in my memory. At approximately five years old, as a reward, my mother took me to a photo studio to have my picture taken. I was poised with joy and was beyond excited to have my picture taken. The photographer (after a brief convo with my mother) felt compelled to extend my reward by taking me on the famous Boulevard of Cap-Haïtien for my very own impromptu photoshoot.
A few years later, at seven years old, I recall seeing the frail face of an starving child in Africa in the newspaper. Until this day, I vividly have the recollection of this image in my mind. It impacted me in ways I couldn’t fully comprehend then, but it was memorable enough where my mind kept going back to it over the years. In recent days, that same picture made it on Time magazine’s on of the top 100 photos of the century.
Kreyolicious: Have you ever taken a photo that turned out differently from what you intended…but in a good way?
In June 2015, American Airlines magazine “American Way” decided to do a spread about Haiti for the very first time. The magazine is very popular and is seen daily by passengers on all 6700 flights across the world. I was fortunate enough to have one of my images of Kokoye Beach in Petit Gôave, Haiti be featured in the prestigious publication. Never did I imagine when taking that picture it would be exposed to millions around the world. The article named “Hidden Glory” featured Haiti’s best attributes. Most recently, in December 2016, while visiting my hometown of Cap-Haïtien, I visited the local street market and took a picture of a group of vegetables vendors. I named the picture “Hidden Figures”. It is the most responsive photo I’ve ever shared on my platform. The beauty hidden in the reality of the picture resonate with the Faces Of Haiti.
Kreyolicious: How did the idea for the Faces of Haiti photo exhibit come about?
As a kid, and now as an adult, I have traveled throughout the country exploring different places. Just enjoying having Haiti as my backyard, not realizing that the views I was seeing I sometimes took for granted. Over the years, as I continue to share some simple pictures on my social media pages, people from all walks of life were in awe of the images, that’s when I knew I had to put Haiti on display, and voila Faces Of Haiti was born. The Faces Of Haiti Expo and Book Release will allow the guests in attendance to discover the many facets of Haiti and its multi-dimensional splendor.
Kreyolicious: Tell us about the process selection for the book itself.
The selection process was challenging due to the number of photos I have taken over the years. Nonetheless, the book is a collection of images that depict the daily life of Haitians and the beauty of the land. From my compilation of files it took me a few days to settle on the photos I selected to share in the book. The photos in the book will take you on a journey to rediscover the Faces Of Haiti.
Kreyolicious: Your first stop was in Miami. How did that go?
Being that Miami is the closest US city from home, it was the perfect location to launch my Faces Of Haiti series. The event was a complete success. I felt the warm welcome of my Miami supporters, and I’m highly motivated to continue sharing Haiti through my camera lenses.
Kreyolicious: You have many more cities to go. What’s next following your tour.
Yes indeed! with Faces Of Haiti I will take Haiti beyond its borders. On March 26th it will be in Washington D.C., May in Paris, June in Montreal and a final scheduled show in Port-au-Prince Haiti. I have to admit that I’ve received countless requests to host a Faces Of Haiti event in New York. I will study the possibilities with my team and will update the public in due time. Updates for all the event will be on SamuelDameus.eventbrite.com. I will continue to promote Haiti with Faces Of Haiti—the book—and canvas prints which are now available on my website.
CLICK HERE to visit the photographer’s website and to keep up with his work and his future exhibits.