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Experience the various aspects of indigenous life in the South American nation of Suriname. From traditional living in the Amazonian rainforest to city-life in the melting pot of its capital city, Paramaribo. Become a witness to the inauguration of a new chief, a lifeguard watching over bathers, a representative of the indigenous peoples at the UN, women harvesting palm fruit in the rainforest, children swimming in a wild river, and a newlywed couple’s first kiss.
POINTS OF RECOGNITION will be the first photo book ever that portrays the everyday life of Suriname’s indigenous peoples. The photographs have been selected and the manuscript is ready. The only thing missing are the funds to print the first edition.
Eleven years ago, I visited my home country Suriname for the first time after I had left it in 1987. Soon after my first return visit, I decided to start a photographic project portraying the different Surinamese communities. The first community that I wanted to photograph were the indigenous peoples, the native inhabitants of my home country.
Before I started, I knew very little about the indigenous peoples of Suriname. I only knew the names of the five tribes I learned about in primary school. During my photographic journey, I learned a lot more about their ways of living, their perspectives, and their struggles. I encountered several situations in which indigenous rights were being ignored or violated. Suriname signed the UN Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples, but it has still not amended its constitution to include indigenous land rights. Until she does, indigenous communities in Suriname will remain vulnerable and at a disadvantage compared to the rest of society.
As I learned more about Suriname's indigenous peoples, I felt even more compelled to share with you their unique way of life in all its diversity.
Although I worked as a cinematographer on series for Netflix and Amazon, lensed independent movies such as Crowhurst and filmed documentaries for Oxfam and others, it is this photographic project that gave me the most beautiful and deepest experience a person can have.
The layout of the book consists of single-page photographs with several two-page spreads. Captions under each photo will inform you about the person(s) portrayed, the activities that are performed, or the context in which the photo was taken.
Among others, you will witness a Carib ceremony that marks the end of a mourning period, you will visit the Trios and the Akuryos in the village of Pelelu Tepu, and you will celebrate Christmas with the inhabitants of Kwamalasamutu. You will meet indigenous people living and working in Paramaribo or nearby villages, celebrate the inauguration of a new chief with an Arawak dance group, visit the Wayanas of Eastern Suriname, and live with the Trios near the border with Brazil.
This photo book of 144 pages includes 124 photographs and measures about 30x25cm (11.8x9.8 inches). It will be printed in a softcover and a hardcover edition.
Points of Recognition offers you a way to connect with the humanity and dignity of Suriname’s Indigenous peoples and their way of life in the 21st Century.
With the amount of €15000, I can print the first 1000 copies and ship them to all corners of the world. I have allocated 50% of the budget for printing, 30% for shipping, 10% for rewards, 5% for unexpected costs, and 5% for Kickstarter fees.
As a backer you will receive monthly newsletters in which I will give updates about the progress, but also share additional stories and photos from my photographic journey through Suriname. You will receive the newsletter even when you pledge just €5.
Many indigenous individuals appear in my photo book who are often mentioned by name in the captions. I would naturally like them to receive a free copy of the photo book. You can help me make that possible by donating one book (or more) to the indigenous people mentioned in Points of Recognition. In return, you will receive a personal video message from me to thank you for your donation and to tell you to whom I have donated the book. If possible, with proof that they have received it.
For those who make a pledge that includes a soft or hard cover edition of my photo book, I will personally autograph your copy.
It is possible to pre-order a book in combination with a small or large photo print. You can chose between 4 photos, which are displayed below this section. All photos have the power to bring atmosphere to your office, on your desk or your coffee table, in the living room, or any other place you might like to display them. Please check the sizes carefully, as they differ. The small photos are printed on photo paper and will be sent together with the photo book. The large photo prints are printed on Hahnemühler paper and will be sent separately from the book. The large photo prints all have a border of 1 cm, which make them suitable for use in frames with a mat.
I will organize a limited number of private meetups for those who want to know more about my photographic journey, the indigenous peoples of Suriname, or my photographic approach and how it is linked to my work as a cinematographer. The meetups will either be in New York, Paramaribo, or the Netherlands. If you live in another city or country and would like to have me come over for a meetup, please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can discuss what is possible. You can invite up to 10 people for the meetup.
One person and his/her guest is able to go on a 5-day private tour with me and my wife through Suriname. You will meet some of the people who are portrayed in my book, visit indigenous villages, and learn more about the multicultural society of the South-American nation of Suriname. Not included in this reward are your flights to Suriname and accommodation costs in Paramaribo. I will assist you, if necessary, with finding the right flights and accommodation for you. Feel free to e-mail (email@example.com) me with any question you might have, or to check my availability before you pledge.
Option A. Watching television under the night sky
Option B. Taking cassava stems to plant in Amazonian rainforest
Option C. Evening falls on the village of Kwamalasamutu
Option D. Father brings children to school in the early morning
Suriname is the only country in South America where Dutch is spoken. Its neighbors are Guyana (formerly known as British Guiana), French Guiana and Brazil. The first European to visit the country at the end of the 15th century was Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda, but it were the English who first settled there. In the 17th century, the Dutch became interested in the possibility of setting up plantations to grow cotton, tobacco and sugar cane. In the Treaty of Breda with England, the former Dutch colony of Nieuw-Nederland (now New York) was exchanged for Suriname. Enslaved Africans and later contract workers from Indonesia, India, and China were brought to the colony to work on the plantations. In 1975, Suriname became independent. The current number of Indigenous people in the country is less than 4% of the total population.
It is undeniable that this photographic journey could not have happened without the participation of the indigenous people, not only those portrayed, but also they who have given me essential support and access to their ways of living. It is important to me that they receive a free copy of the book. In total, I have allocated 175 copies for them. You can help by donating a book to one of the 100 indigenous people portrayed in my book that are mentioned by name.
I’m lucky to have teamed up with Heleen Westerman, my wife, as my project manager and advisor. We met in Suriname where she lived for four years. She is the brain behind much of the logistics and planning that goes into self-publishing. While I put the finishing touches to the manuscript’s lay-out, design, and writing, Heleen checks the clarity and flow of my words and images, plans out our timetable, and calculates the different costs scenarios of printing, shipping, and publishing the book.
What else can you do besides pledging?
Feel free to share this Kickstarter and to make other people aware of this unique photo book. Here are a few suggestions of what you can do, even if you are not able to make a pledge:
- Share this project on your social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin
- Personally reach out to your friends that are interested in other cultures and/or photography
- Inform media contacts, companies and/or NGOs about my photo book and kickstarter project. You can also share our website PointsofRecognition.com, or e-mail me with your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Risks and challenges
This is my first attempt at self-publishing. It was certainly not a light decision, but it was made easier knowing that I wouldn’t do it alone. My brilliant wife gives me the confidence and support to undertake this adventure!
Together we have lined up a desktop publishing advisor in the Netherlands to do the final check and make my manuscript ready for print. Our printer is located in Belgium and is known for quality work at affordable rates.
Initially we thought of printing just a hardcover edition, but we decided on producing a softcover edition as well. Books such as this are often unaffordable in Suriname as well as for many other people who have the interest, but not the finances. With our projected prices of €19,99 for the soft cover and € 39,99 for the hard cover, there will be a suitable version for everyone, including you.
Shipping remains an expensive and complicated phase in this process, especially because we do not have the established network of a major publisher. I hope that with our careful research and accounting, we can foresee most problems. We also count on our own network of relatives and friends for storage. We decided to include shipping in the rewards based on an average for shipping worldwide and within Europe. We will, if necessary, chip in ourselves if needed.
We want to deliver the books and rewards to our backers and indigenous participants before the end of July. We are giving ourselves some extra time for this phase as Milton’s availability for signing the books will depend on his work schedule. We also need to ship the books by boat to Suriname, which will take about a month. Books destined for the Americas will be sent as one shipment to the US and will be mailed or delivered from there to individual backers. Delivery in Europe will be quicker. All in all, we don’t want to disappoint you, which is why we have set the final delivery dates for the books at July 2019.
For the meet up-sessions and the 5-day private tour we have given ourselves a bit more time. The exact dates and times will be discussed with the specific backers of those rewards. By July 2020 we hope to be able to close this specific Kickstarter-project.
Until the final deliveries of the books and rewards, you will receive monthly newsletters. In those you will find an update on the progress, but also additional photos and background stories of Milton’s photographic journey. You can always unsubscribe when you no longer wish to receive these newsletters.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)