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Hi Maxim! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Maxim Laroche, I am 29 years old and was born and raised in Haiti. My family has been living in Cap-Haitien (the northern region of Haiti) for nine generations. I had the opportunity to go to Valley Forge Military Academy in the US and study business management in Canada, but shortly after finishing I felt that my talents could be better utilized in Haiti. I am currently a partner in three different businesses and do photography as a side-hobby. I am very passionate about the ocean and fishing and spend as much time as possible on the water and exploring remote areas in Haiti.
How did you get into photography?
At the age of 12, my cousin Rafaelle Castera, a very well known Haitian photographer, used me as a driver when she would come to the area. I would say it started there. In those times, if your feet could reach the peddles then you could get a driver’s license…of course with parental approval. Taking her to the remote, beautiful areas she was photographing laid the foundation for what Haiti_Uncut is trying to become today.
What is the inspiration behind your Instagram handle?
My wife came up with the name while we were on a camping trip discussing Haiti’s negative image and what could be done to change it.
What are some of your favorite things to photograph?
Fisherman and sailboats out on the open ocean, the ability to capture a moment, and anything that shows a different Haiti than what most people know. I don’t very much care for photos that are set-up and carefully planned.
Has Instagram changed the way you photograph?
Definitely, and even more these days, photography is dynamic in the sense that you can capture a moment of beauty and it’s there forever.
Who or what inspires you?
Changing Haiti’s negative image and portrayal on news and media. Haiti is not only about AIDS, riots, gang wars, and civil unrest. If I share these experiences with friends and followers, it’s guaranteed to at least lay the foundation for changing perception.
What do you think makes a good photo?
A good photo…..anything that changes perceptions. It’s always amazing to get comments like ‘wow, I had no idea Haiti was so beautiful’. Also on another note: when the story surrounding the picture creates a lasting memory. Years later you can look back on a picture and remember who was with you and what was happening at the moment you took the picture.
What do you want to say with your photographs, what message do you want to convey?
Haiti is not what you see on the news and media, there is raw untouched beauty everywhere for adventurous types.
What motivates you to continue taking photographs?
Every picture I post reaches and changes perception of at least one new person who thought Haiti was a garbage dump.
How do you find subjects that you want to take photos of? Do you travel to locations you know you’ll find appealing, or take pictures as you experience life?
I call them mini-adventures. Whenever I have some free-time, I search Google Earth or ask around for cool locations that have rivers or nice beaches and then just go. You find that even Haitians living in Haiti have no idea what is in their own backyard, so finding these amazing locations to take friends and family only helps to spread and share the experience.
Do you have a favorite project you worked on, or a series that you’re most proud of?
Hmm it’s hard to say for a favorite project, although I do wish that some of the moments captured could have been with a better camera.
Among your photos, which are your favorite(s) and why?
I have one that speaks to me; a sailboat that was passing by while I had a GoPro in the water. I had some friends visiting from Kuwait who had never been to Haiti and only knew the negative things. Even when they arrived at the airport, they were worried for their safety and had no idea what they were getting into. After the first day, all those fears were put to bed and they had an incredible time. As the sailboat was passing, he got super excited and asked if I would please take the picture with him in it. The picture came out to be amazing and he kept re-posting shots from Haiti long after he left Haiti. Sadly he passed not too long ago from an accident. His memories in Haiti were like that of no other place he visited in the world, and he was much better traveled than I am. It’s stories like that, captured behind the photography that make it a favorite.
And finally, what is on the cards for you in the future?
For the future….definitely going to get a much better camera and keep posting the amazing culture and adventure that Haiti has to offer. I have pondered about making a coffee table book and or canvas prints in different sizes, but that is for a later time.