The word “malfini” is the Haitian Creole equivalent of the word “vulture”. So, the fact that shutterbug Conrad Schutt calls his photography firm Malfini Photography, is from an angle, a rather fitting name. While vultures are known for scavenging the earth for carcasses, Schutt does some scavenging of his own. In lieu of looking for prey, Schutt looks for places and settings in Haiti that can make compelling images. He’s part of a talented group of Haiti-based photographers who have been using the camera to change perceptions about Haiti.
Kreyolicious: How you got started with this love for photography?
Conrad Schutt: I’ve always been fascinated with the visual aspect of things and the raw power of a good photo. My great-grandfather was a big photographer in Haiti and always saw the pictures from Pepe. A few years ago, my sister was telling me about this app called Instagram and how I needed to join it because of how cool it was. I was a little reluctant at first but quickly got sucked in like many other people. After a while, I started to get tired of Instagram and was going to delete the app, but my wife bought me my first drone for Christmas, a DJI Phantom 3 and that was it. I was hooked. After looking at pictures from various accounts around the world, I started getting that feeling of how are they getting these pics. I really starting getting obsessed with the ability of how I could do similar things, but for Haiti. I quickly realized that nice pictures also came with a cost. First, it was a new Macbook pro, then a new drone, then it was buying proper editing software. I still feel weird when someone asks me about “being a photographer”, because it is something that is fairly new to me and something that I’m constantly in this learning process. I find myself spending way too much time on youtube, because you can learn just about anything on there.
Kreyolicious: What was your view of photography growing up?
Conrad Schutt: One of the photo books I mostly remember growing up was called Haiti From Above. It was one of the books that was always on the living room table at my parents house, and I was always amazed by the perspective of the views from the air. It was a way to travel around the country in a way that wasn’t really seen before. I would say that the book definitely led to my obsession with drones today.
Kreyolicious: While we are on the subject of change, what do you feel social media has contributed to the image of Haiti?
Conrad Schutt: Social media has given everyone a voice—good or bad. Before if you wanted to do a solid marketing campaign, it would cost a fortune. Right now, there are so many people that are doing such a great job on various platforms. I’m really excited about the times that we are living right now because there are so many tools that are available to everybody that would like to contribute to the change of narrative that is so needed in Haiti. For far too long, we have had only the negative being on the forefront. While I don’t discount those and agree that they are true and need to be spoken about, the problem is that it doesn’t tell the full story. As true as poverty, trash, and all of our other issues are, so is our beaches that can rival any beaches in the Caribbean. Our historical monuments that are one of a kind in the world. [Our] culture that is truly unique in the Caribbean. Obviously, the people that should be doing it aren’t, so I will do my best to do what I can and hope that others join in the same path.
Kreyolicious: You are one of those photographers based in Haiti who highlight places outside of Port-au-Prince, which is probably Haiti’s most well-known city. Places like Cap Haitien.Tell us more about that.
Conrad Schutt: I was born and raised in Cap-Haitien and my family has been here for many generations dating back to the times of King Christophe. After my university years, I moved back with the intention of working on tourism since I graduated with a degree in hospitality management. I’ve always believed in tourism and Cap-Haitien is the ideal place to jump start it in the country. One quick look at my Instagram profile and you could easily see what we have to offer to first-time travelers to Haiti and even the diaspora that would like to come for a few days. With things like Palais Sans Souci, La Citadelle, the beaches, Cap-Haitien has plenty to offer. I’ve always said that if I had to leave Cap [Haitien], I don’t think I could go anywhere else. There’s just something special about it.
[Photo Credit: All photographs are property of the subject]
to follow Conrad Schutt’s journey as a photographer on Youtube| to enjoy his stunning photographs.