Manono Island, Samoa
In the spring of 2018 I spent six weeks documenting daily life and taking family portraits of the residents of Salua Village on Manono Island, Samoa. I’m raising money to send each family their printed portraits and a 140-page printed book that contains a mixture of documentary images and all the family and school portraits.
Manono is the second smallest of just four inhabited islands in Samoa. About 600 people live on the island, so I concentrated my time in the northern village of Salua, where about 200 people reside. The village is spread out along the trail that circumnavigates the island, it takes 20 minutes to walk from one end of Salua to the other. There are two churches, one primary school, and a dock that boats use for the 20-minute trip to the mainland of 'Upolu. The older kids make the daily commute for high school, as do some adults who work there. Most families have plantations on the interior of the island where they grow taro, cocoa, and many other crops. Women play bingo 3-6 times each week. Everybody goes to church on Sunday, occasionally also Wednesday.
Why This Project Is Important
Photos matter to everyone, but they're often a first-world luxury. Cell phones are becoming more prolific in the Pacific, but photos rarely leave those devices to become prints. During my six weeks in Salua Village I photographed 44 families and all 88 students. Each family and each student will receive two 8x12 laminated enlargements and about ten 4x6 prints to share with family and friends. In addition, each family will receive a copy of the 140-page book of portraits and photos documenting their lives and culture. If we exceed our funding goal we may also be able to send books back to each student.
We take photos so that we can remember. When I am photographing these projects I'm usually thinking 50 or 100 years down the road and hoping my photos will be meaningful for generations to come. But sometimes these photos become important much quicker than I'd like. In each of the four projects I've done (including Manono), a community member I photographed has passed away soon after my departure. From the Palau project, here was a note I received from the widow of a fisherman who was lost at sea: "Am so glad for your great efforts for your project. Seriously if not, I don't have the best family portrait, something I will treasure for me & esp our kids. Once again, thank you & hope you'll visit Palau in the future." Her children were 5, 3, and 1 at the time of their portrait, so the youngest will only ever know his father through the portrait that was sent back from this project.
Here is another case for which I just received an email last week (this was from the Palau project in 2013):
On July 16th, 2018, Fetaomi (below) passed away at 92 years of age. She has two documentary photos in this year's Samoa book in addition to her family photo. I already emailed back a selection of photos for her funeral, but I will make sure to include many copies of these for her surviving relatives.
What We Need
My goal is to send 50 books and portrait packages back to Salua Village. The book is softcover and filled with about 110 documentary photos, 30 pages of family and student portraits, and maps of both Oceania and Samoa with a Manono inset. This year I will also include two guest essays about tattooing in Samoa as well as a history of Manono Island. 100 books (50 for the community, 50 for contributors like you!) will cost $2324 and the prints will cost about $500. I am estimating shipping to be $800, plus $250 in shipping for contributor gifts. Miscellaneous expenses include graphic design ($300), Kickstarter fees, $80 to mail Samoa books back to the Tonga and Vanuatu islands, and $300 in contributor gifts I bought in Samoa. This totals about $4900. If we exceed that I have a secondary goal of sending back books to the school children, as well.
To view more photos from the book and portrait delivery for last year's Vanuatu project, please see a short gallery here (photos by Peace Corps Volunteer Kat Frye!).
It's also worth reading the updates from last year's project, where you'll see a few different photos and the expected progress for this year's project. The full galleries of the 2017 Vanuatu and 2016 Tonga projects can be seen here:
What You Get
At the $75 contribution level you will receive a copy of the Manono book and you will also sponsor one book and portrait package to be mailed back to a family. I will include a photo of who you sponsored when I send your book to you. If you would like to gift a contribution on someone else's behalf, just let me know and I will include a note thanking that person for their contribution and an explanation of the project.
There will only be ten limited edition books which will also include one jar of jam/chili sauce and one bar of soap, all made in Samoa:
For $225 you will receive one each of the three books we've published for these projects:
All mat and print purchase also include a copy of the Manono, Samoa book!
Here are a few photos from Manono that you may like for the enlarged print option:
Here are a few of the 44 family portraits and 88 student portraits that we're sending back:
I'd like to recognize Thinktank Photo for a great in-kind contribution and Brown Publishing for continuing to provide excellent printing and a discount for us. Thank you to the mat donors, Fred Young for providing accommodations in Apia, and my host family in Salua Village! Please check the updates section as this project progresses as I'll post more photos and stories from the project there! I will also be updating near daily on my Instagram feed (@davidclumpner).
Risks and challenges
This is the fourth crowd-funded portrait project I have done for a Pacific island. All three of the previous projects (links to those are in the "What We Need" section above) have been fully funded and everything was delivered to contributors and to the islanders, so I hope you can feel safe that your donation will be put towards a good cause and you will receive your gift. I have already worked through three samples of the Manono book and finalized it, so as soon as this project reaches its funding goal I will send the order for the books to the publisher and they'll begin printing. Everything should go quickly this year!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (23 days)