The Broad Strokes: An Introduction to David Andres Berg
David Berg is the founder of Blackwood Imaging, a photography collective dedicated to showcasing the culture and artists of the Caribbean Islands. David is a Caribbean native; he lives, shoots, and edits just outside Fredriksted, St Croix, on an old Danish plantation close to his family home.
David’s philosophy is simple: keep it simple. He lives in a spartan studio without a definitive boundary from the lush grounds of the plantation surrounding it. He just got his first “real” computer, something that actually sits on a desk—he’s been editing his photos on an old laptop for years now. He shoots underwater solely with a GoPro, and when land calls, he typically travels with two lenses, a flat lens and a fish-eye. His other equipment includes a mask, snorkel, and fins. It’s easier that way to chase down the perfect underwater light, catch moko jumbies mid-stride, or island hop to the next Carnival.
David never thought he would be a photographer. During his childhood on St Croix, he danced as a moko jumbie, which early on solidified as his artistic identity. This creative outlet morphed into wrestling and mixed martial arts when he moved stateside in his teens. The beauty of the body and all it was capable of captivated him, and this unique perspective easily translated to success in the ring. Unfortunately a misplaced kick left David on crutches, and unable to express himself physically, for six months. Without the only outlet David had ever known, a dark time followed this injury, until a teacher put a camera in his hands hoping to distract him and reignite his spirit.
David quickly found that the view finder captured the beauty of the body and its surroundings in a whole new way. The camera could be used to add another dimension to the frozen moment: what was present, and what was missing. He vividly remembers his first picture of a bench, an empty bench, and how that emptiness was able to express a feeling that the presence of a body could not have portrayed. The camera also offered David a chance to reconnect, with St Croix, Caribbean Culture, and his past. From this new perspective behind the camera David found a reflection, and expansion, of his early moko jumbie experiences.
David currently uses his photography to capture not only the present moment, but also the past—that which has been largely forgotten and presently ignored. The history, the hidden depths of each person, each family, each building, place, and culture fascinates him and he is constantly on a mission to illuminate it through his view finder. David is definitely not finished learning, with his ability and focus rapidly evolving. He describes himself as a student of his camera, constantly discovering new lessons of composition, balance, and opposition in the very moment he is capturing. He shoots for himself, to better himself, and is still pleasantly surprised when others find value in his work as well. He hopes he can use his new-found talent to preserve and document Caribbean culture, as well as express it’s rich depths to visitors and new arrivals. When David isn’t in the ocean or in the rainforest with his camera, you can find him working as a veterinary assistant, renovating the Danish plantation, or enjoying a famous West-end sunset on the beach with his dogs, Ray and Wolfie.
Written by Leona Waller
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