Patrice Dougé Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Patrice Dougé was chosen by Tony Savino.
Laatikkomo’s interview with Patrice Dougé February 26th, 2014.
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places/cultures have influenced you?
PD: I was born and raised in Haiti until I was 15. By the time I was 8 years old, I had an obsessive interest in the US. I didn’t have to make any adjustments once I landed In New York City where I spent 15 years after I left Haiti, I immediately adapted to American Culture. I eventually moved to Montclair New Jersey where I spent 5 years before moving to Florida which I never liked.
L: What is your earliest memory of photography?
PD: While playing in my father’s closet, I must have been 6 years old, I found a camera which my father had purchased for his travels and after I played with it, my obsession began.
L: The 2010 earthquake was a severe blow to the country at a delicate time, leaving thousands of people without adequate housing still today. How has that experience affected what, or the way you photograph?
PD: The earthquake has not affected the way I view Haiti in anyway, I was already living in Haiti on January 12, 2010 when the earthquake struck Port-Au-Prince, I was just unable to cover the story, I already had a different mindset to portray Haiti in a different light.
L: Although you work in both the United States and Haiti, most of your work focuses on Haiti. If you could get any assignment, anywhere in the world, what story would you like to tell through photography?
PD: My dream assignment would be to do a story on the lifestyle and survival of the Himba indigenous people in Northern Namibia, Africa.
L: You photograph a large array of subjects from rural life in Haiti to religious events, graffiti and contemporary dance. How do you choose your subjects and what subject inspires your work the most?
PD: After working as a freelance photographer in the 90’s for the Reuters News Agency, I felt I had a debt toward Haiti to share a more positive image of the country. Since I came back to live in Haiti 5 years ago, only beauty and culture inspire me.
L: Can you differentiate between the way you would take images for your personal work and what you take for professional reportage? When given an assignment, how much leeway are you allowed in how you photograph a subject? How much are the feelings and angles pre-dictated in the assignment? And how do you let your personal opinions shine though?
PD: Whether for personal work or an assignment, I always try as best as I can to photograph my subjects in a way to go beyond the obvious, it’s our job as photographers to make images with strong composition so it grabs the eye of the viewer. When I worked for the Miami Herald and the Sun Sentinel in Florida, the editors were quite flexible as long as the images told the story accurately. I always try to make something mundane as visually interesting as possible.
L: In your blog you mention your passion for your country. How would you like the world to visualize Haiti, what or which: landscape(s), event(s), site(s), occasion(s), would most accurately represent your homeland?
PD: Last year I worked on a project to photograph the Grand’Anse located in the far South of Haiti. The beauty I have found there would positively represent Haiti
L: Could you list a three to five words that you were thinking about when you made this work?
PD: Beyond the obvious, beauty, what is that attracts me
Thank you Patrice, hopefully you will get to Namibia soon!