Makira, Vanuatu Family Portrait and Photography Book

David Clumpner has kicked off a campaign on crowd funding platform ‘kickstarter’ to raise funds for a ‘Makira, Vanuatu Family Portrait and Photography Book’.

In the spring of 2017 David spent five weeks documenting daily life and taking family portraits of the residents of Makira Island, Vanuatu and he wants to raise money to send printed portraits back to each family and each school child along with a 140-page printed book that contains a mixture of documentary images and all the family and school portraits.

Makira is a tiny island in the Shepherd Islands of Vanuatu with about 95 people live on the island, and is a 30-minute flight, a 30-minute truck ride, and a 30-minute boat ride away from the capital, Port Vila.

Sea of Shepherds

The main village rests on the only flat area on the island, a small spit on the north end bordering the beach and there is no barrier reef, so incoming boats must negotiate the breaking waves to glide in and quickly get pulled above the high water mark by a dozen or more men.

About 32 houses, three churches, an elementary school and kindergarten, health center, and a couple nakamals (community centers) comprise the village with coral covered paths make up the grid of trails throughout the village, most are lined with short hedges that surround the houses.

There is just one tiny store on the island with Men fish, farm, or work on community projects during the day while women weave, cook, and raise the children.

Children on Makira Looking at the Nomuka, Tonga Book from Last Year’s Project

“I saw one printed photo while staying on Makira and a few photos are being taken on cell phones, but those will not last”, he wrote in the kickstarter project.

“During my five weeks on Makira I photographed all 34 families on the island and also took school portraits of every student. Each family and each school child will receive two 8×10 laminated enlargements and about ten 4×6 prints to share with family and friends. In addition, they will also receive a copy of the 140-page book of portraits and documentary photos.”

“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 to generations that haven’t been born yet. But sometimes these photos become important much quicker than I’d like. In each of the three projects I’ve photographed (including Makira), a community member has passed away within months of 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.”

“About a month ago on Makira, Taribo Jimmy suffered a stroke and passed (see photo below), so with funding of this project, I will make sure to include additional copies of his family portraits to be distributed to his kids, who live in Port Vila and on Santo Island.”

“My goal is to send about 80 books and 75 family and school portrait packages to Makira, and the book is softcover and is filled with 120 pages of documentary photos of life on Makira and 17 pages of all the family portraits and school portraits.”