New York based photographer Wyatt Gallery visited Suriname for a few days to photograph some historic sites for his project “Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean.” Wyatt has done work for the New York Times in the past and his work has been published in numerous books and magazines such as Esquire and the New York Times, in addition to receiving numerous awards. This was Wyatt’s second visit to Suriname; he had been in Suriname before for the New York Times.
I attended a presentation he did for a group of local photographers yesterday, and was amazed by the work he’s doing. And it’s not just the great photography, but also the way in which he has been able to combine his photography with helping people out in various countries and raising money and awareness for good causes.
To give you an example, during one of his previous projects, Tent Life: Haiti, Wyatt dedicated a year of his life to photographing in Haiti and raising awareness of the tragic living conditions after the devastating earthquake of January 12th 2010. After publishing his book, he donated 100% of the royalties to Haitian relief organizations and raised over $40,000USD in total.
Another one of his projects, #Sandy, featured pictures taken by him and a number of other photographers of the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy in October 2012. All pictures were taken and processed on their iPhones. The pictures in the book are absolutely amazing. During his presentation, Wyatt mentioned that the people from the LA Times actually emailed him to confirm that the pictures were really taken on an iPhone apparently because they found it hard to believe. He also said that there are a few photojournalists that he knows who are primarily covering their stories using their phones right now. Since recently camera manufacturers like Nikon and Canon are facing heavy competition from smartphones as this story on the Wall Street Journal confirms, and apparently it’s not just the normal consumers that prefer to take pictures with their smartphones instead of a compact camera or DSLR, but now also professional photographers. And this will make sense to you after you see the pictures in the book. It’s clear, like Fake Chuck has pointed out recently, that camera manufacturers need to seriously step up their game on the professional models if they expect to maintain their market share going forward.
With his latest project “Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean,” one of Wyatt’s goals is to try to raise awareness and help with the preservation of the historic Jewish sites he will cover in his book. I had the opportunity to go along with Wyatt to Jodensavanne, one of the sites he came to photograph in Suriname, and spent half a day watching him work. Jodensavanne was the largest Jewish settlement in this hemisphere in the 17th century. The ruins of its synagogue still remain, as well as the cemeteries nearby.
Wyatt’s driver and guide for that day was Jules Donk. Jules and I know each other from Facebook and we’re also related, though we don’t know the exact details (I have Jewish ancestors). Jules asked me to come along on the trip to Jodensavanne and that’s how I got to meet Wyatt.
For the photographers reading this, Wyatt was using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, which in my opinion is the best DSLR available right now, apart from the 1DX. He used the TS-E 17mm f/4L, TS-E 24mm f/3.5L and the 24-105mm f/4L IS lenses.
We had a fun and interesting time together, and I’ve posted a couple of pictures below to give you a behind the scenes look of Wyatt at work. If you’d like to know more about his project, visit the website.