In Haiti, photographer Valerie Bayreswell prefers intimacy to marriage

Documentary with pictures“Yes, I do” (4/6). On a Caribbean island plagued by poverty and security problems, a Swiss photojournalist replays an important community party without forgetting the party’s side effects or erasing the difficult context.

“Haiti, a country crushed by misery … a life of 2 euros a day … endless rot … the news overwhelms this small country of the Antilles, where life is good nonetheless.” Valerie Bayreswell, 38, photographed sixty weddings on the island between 2015 and 2021. She is also a photojournalist and does not forget to indicate the context in which she marked this moment of celebration.

In her native Switzerland, she began photographing her family, of herself, and then of others’ family, to earn a living. Then she moved to Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, where she exported her expertise, photographing weddings, pregnancies and christenings… “Time passes quickly, people enjoy watching pictures of happy moments, and I like to make people happy.”

A wedding photographed by Swiss Valerie Bayresuil, in Haiti, in January 2017.

in Haiti, Marriage is more important than testimonyValerie Bayreswell explains. It is a symbol of social success.. Especially for the ladies who live in the countryside, who have to find a husband to leave the family home. The pregnant woman marries the father of the future child – will it or not. It often happens that the priest, too engrossed in good communal order, reduces his fee, even if it means the celebration of marriage in pairs.

‘They heroically overcame the shackles’

Valerie Bayreswell is a witness to the country’s security problems, which have seriously deteriorated over the past two years. Some campaigns are no longer available to me, and are controlled by armed gangs. » Poverty is that the festivities are tampered with with the help of all so that the party is beautiful. So men sometimes raise a generator on the roof of a bus to take it to a remote church where electricity is as scarce as water. And the celebration could begin, amplifying the chorus as it should. The neighbor brings beef to roast for everyone to eat. In supermarkets, packaged goods are very expensive, but there is always a cousin or acquaintance to offer mangoes and avocados from the garden. “Human warmth and solidarity with them overcome obstacles together heroically”Valerie Bayreswell explains.

Read also: This article is reserved for our subscribers “The situation in Haiti is deteriorating into an endless state of rot”

A wedding photographer must be versatile. Make sure to display selfies and group photos to keep the family happy. He must also know how to approach the adoption of reporting rules and, at times, reporting in difficult contexts. Valérie Baeriswyl interferes with intimacy in the living room, where the celebration is being prepared. Today’s dream is in the making: the bride is crowned with a tiara, the Bible-bearer and broadcaster are dressed in satin and lace dresses, and the lace borrowed from American ceremonies shown on TV is being prepared.

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