The Writing on the Wall

Haiti 21 October 1794 and today, 21 Octber 2015

On 21 October 1794 Toussaint L'Ouverture, leader of the Haitian independence movement during the French Revolution, captured the cities of Saint-Michel and Saint-Raphaël from the Spanish for the French during the War of the First Coalition.

North central Haiti 1987

North central Haiti 1987

For very unexpected reasons I’ve been way away for about a week.  Coming back has been interesting.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1987: Police wait to react to a demo

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1987: Police wait to react to a demo

I note the date in Haitian history because yesterday I woke from a dream of Haiti where I was almost 25 years ago.  I don’t know why I had this dream but I do know that like all of us in the business of documentary photography/journalism we make it with the help of others.  It was in Haiti I meet Maggie Steber who I am sure no more remembers me now than she knew who I was then. But hearing I had not been able to find US representation referred me to people in London and said use my name.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1987: Anti government demonstrators

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1987: Anti government demonstrators

As so often happens, the events of last week could not have occurred at a worse time.  At the beginning of this year I opted out of a long running contract because the work had deadened my soul as it turned deeper and deeper into PR.  I committed to changing my working style, cashed in some money, bought the Leica and started.  And it seemed to be working: the photos were getting better and I pretty quickly found a project idea to help me “focus”.  But then I was interrupted first by camera repair and then by events of last week.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1990: Supporters of Jean-Bertrand "Titid" Aristide wait for his return

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1990: Supporters of Jean-Bertrand "Titid" Aristide wait for his return

In any event now I’m starting up again and perhaps that is why Haiti has popped up – it was in Port-au-Prince through a random connection I found with a fellow photographer that I finally found some acceptance and a feeling of home in London.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1990: Security for an Aristide and others moving from one site to another.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1990: Security for an Aristide and others moving from one site to another.

As some of you know for about 25 years, predating “social media” by some time, I have put out photo cards, first as mailed hard copies, then as e cards.  Now I have 2 websites and a twitter account but the cards continue to go only to a small number of folks and appear nowhere else. Eight days ago my new card series was to go out but then… Instead it went out Monday. Yet another beginning I suppose.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1990.  Rally marches to the cemetery.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1990.  Rally marches to the cemetery.

Robert Gumpert 21 October 2015