The Sudanese know how to throw a party, they literally shut things down to celebrate life. Their sense of fun and joy are only matched by their luminescent smile and sunny disposition. Thank you Sudan 🇸🇩 for showing me how to live serenely aware of the bounties of life.
Forget Dos XX, the most interesting man in the world is in #Cartagena, The moment I saw him, I wanted to be him. He had an air of sumptuous delight with a gaze of rapturous mischief. His presence seduced my imagination into his adventures, beckoning me to cast off my constricting identity. I think of him and remember the freedom that is always mine to be pliant and fluid in body and spirit and to dance with abandon in the fantasy of life.
“Remember thee! remember thee! Till Lethe quench life’s burning stream Remorse and shame shall cling to thee, And haunt thee like a feverish dream! Remember thee! Aye, doubt it not.Thy husband too shall think of thee: By neither shalt thou be forgot, Thou false to him, thou fiend to me!”
“Rule with the heart of a servant. Serve with the heart of a king.”
While on a train from Bangkok to Siem Reap, this forlorn and ruminative man captured my attention. His pensive demeanor compelled me to wonder what he was thinking, here's the story I made up:
"The rice yield was paltry this season, the third season in a row due to the drought. The government urges to grow rice that doesn’t need so much water yet knowing my struggle their monthly tribute feels punitive. I fear if the yield doesn’t improve there may be another revolt akin to the one in the ‘70’s. As the rice production decreases my debt increases. I now owe 36,150 BHAT while my family earns a meager 3,700 BHAT a year; we may lose our land, farm, our identity."
Throughout my travels to underdeveloped nations, I've wondered how people continue to have hope and smile towards the future in spite of their bleak surroundings. Do children stop believing in hope? How do they keep their zest for life?
“Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good”
When I was younger, news reports unfailingly called Haiti, "The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere." Being Haitian-American, it's loathsome to hear my ancestral home as "poor"; it felt like an indictment and judgment on my heritage. The public imagination is blighted with depictions of privation and destitution, a nation of people who can't seem to ever have good things happen to them, yet, Haiti is replete with images of a hopeful future that is always ever present and skipping through.
"The mark of a man is not machismo or any kind of coolness factor — the mark of a man is a willingness to recognize himself for what he is, warts and all, and to make peace with his own imperfections. To laugh at them, even. The mark of a man is an ability to identify with something other than simple manhood. The mark of a man is not an answer to identity — it's an appreciation that being human is a continual, beautiful question."
Gallivanting along Paris' world-renowned arcades festooned with chic items, my eyes gleefully devoured every delight. As I gorged myself on these visual enchantments, I was halted by the dramatic profile of this reflective and philosophical man. Looking at him, I saw a faint glimmer of his inner universe and my camera was the black hole gobbling up his inner light. After I thanked him for his photo, he instantaneously returned to his ruminative pose, I still wonder...what was he thinking?
In 2015, throughout my travels in Europe, I was bloated with an absurd and laughable confidence in my photographic abilities, I scarcely was able to fit through the decorative doors of the cities I visited. I desperately wanted to capture a moment to testify for all time or an image worthy of a postcard; I know, a self-important and vainglorious pursuit to say the least. Yet, in spite of all that pretense, photography is an endeavor worthy of the attempt for its the act of freezing time that the photographer triumphs. Now in 2017, I'm stripped of my ego and I realize in nearly all of my photos I'm more lucky than good. And here I present my luck,
The Dresden Rider.
As a French Cinephile, I've seen many French actors with the characteristic nonchalant French flair flaming a cigarette. I naturally romanced Parisian smoking and their seemingly indulgent disregard of health. When I arrived, I too wanted to smoke like a Parisian.
Who better to give me lessons than these trés chic teens with their vibrant rebellious spirit? Happenstance brought us together to momentarily create an esprit de corps and to fulfill my unusual dream of burning down a loosey on the streets of Paris. While smoking and shooting, I told them my name, "Pascal" and they said, "Wow! That's very French."
Guess what were their names?
Lisa (left), Roger (middle), and Joshua (right)
In the beginning of my photographic affair with the city of love, I felt like an unsatisfied lover. I was lazily capturing snapshots rather than revealing the smoldering essence of the city and its people. Yet, as I was disappointed with myself and my progress, I came across a resplendent man of impeccable style and grace. A Black Parisian has a gift of atypical elegance and rhythm, sauntering through the city of lights with their own iridescent brilliance. This man's gaze was familial, as if to say, "we are kin, distant through time and place yet our souls belong to the same tribe. Greetings my brother." Capturing his essence gave me the breath of inspiration I needed to truly experience and document Paris' glorious splendor and magnificence.