The Dutch government placed its East Indian, and Maroon immigrants, the descendents of escaped Jamaican slaves, in the now-affordable social housing in the Bijlmermeer. That same year, the Chinese-Surinamese Kaihing family opened “The Real Toko”. Forty years later, this store continues to serve the Surinamese community. It is the go-to place for life’s necessities to eat good, look good, and feel rooted. Authentic connection to a tropical brown skinned motherland amid the Bijlmer flats. If the Real Toko doesn’t have what you look for in its jumbled piles and bursting shelves it means you probably can live without it. Hanging out is OK here so long as you don’t pilfer, Like a good Amsterdamer, coming and going by bike. Buying only what you need for the next few days. Keeping it real at “The Real”.
Through photography, I get closer to people and places that I want to know better through long term projects. Living in the Pacific Northwest, USA I am working on a project called “Ordinary Men” honoring the work and pride of independent loggers. I am also excited about documenting the post-Castro emergence of the new Cuban entrepreneur and middle class. For me, photography has led to deep personal connections and community-building. I know I have become more empathic, compassionate, and understanding of myself and others through the images I take. That’s why I do it.