Eleven years ago, I visited my home country Suriname for the first time after I had left it in 1987. Soon after my first return visit, I decided to start a photographic project portraying the different Surinamese communities. The first community that I wanted to photograph were the indigenous peoples, the native inhabitants of my home country.
Before I started, I knew very little about the indigenous peoples of Suriname. I only knew the names of the five tribes I learned about in primary school.
During my photographic journey, I learned a lot more about their ways of living, their perspectives, and their struggles. I encountered several situations where indigenous rights were being ignored or violated. Suriname signed the UN Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples, but it has still not amended its constitution to include indigenous land rights.
Until it does, indigenous communities in Suriname will remain vulnerable and at a disadvantage compared to the rest of society.
As I became more aware of Suriname’s indigenous peoples, I felt even more compelled to share through my photographs their unique way of life in all its diversity.
Although I worked as a cinematographer on series for Netflix and Amazon, lensed independent movies such as Once upon a time in London, and filmed documentaries for Oxfam and others, it is this photographic project that gave me the most beautiful and deepest experience a person can have.
My work as a cinematographer
I am most at home in material which explores the human condition and the nuanced and complex world we live in.
I like to examine the best way to interpret the essence of a story, with the director as my guide. I consider myself the conduit of his or her vision, it’s guardian as well as it’s audience.
I’ve been lucky that my work has taken me to almost every continent, shooting documentaries in places as diverse as Vietnam, Rwanda, Japan and Argentina; feature films in Great Britain, India, and Suriname; and television in New Zealand, Colombia, and the US.
My work as a cinematographer includes VANAJA, a rural drama set in India for which I received a 2008 Independent Spirit Awards nomination for Best Cinematography and the award for Best Cinematography at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.