This work in progress "When I grow up" started seven years ago when I was living in the poorest barrio of Azua de Compostela, in the south of the Dominican Republic.
While I was roaming around Azua dusty and dirty streets with my camera, under a scorching sun, a lot of children would just come along asking me about what I was doing and why. Over time, following me, “El Fotografo”, became their favorite pastime and I got to listen to their stories and sometimes met their desperate parents and saw their below-poverty living quarters.
Most of these kids had just one parent (their mother) or were loosely “looked after” by some other family member. Some of them would occasionally go to a shabby, ineffectual school, some others wouldn’t even bother; all of them spent 99% of their day (and often nights) in the streets, interacting with different levels of barrio sub-culture, including prostitutes, pimps and drug addicts, always trying to find new ways to earn, beg, steal a few coins in order to eat something. While many of their stories ranged from sad to horrible, their living conditions were appalling, their nourishment inadequate, all of them were able to come up with a snappy answer when asked:” what do you want to do when you grow up?” Their life plans (just like mine when I was their age) where candidly optimistic. Nurse, doctor, policeman, politician, computer expert, airplane pilot, getting married to a foreigner and go live in New York or in Europe, journalist, shop owner, lawyer etc etc. Sadly, I documented with a series of close-up portraits the imprint of hardship I could see reflected in their eyes along with hope, happiness, sadness, pain and anger but above all I think what transpires from these children headshots is how difficult it will be for them making their dreams (whatever they are) become a reality.
Link to the photographic book “When I grow up”
© Giovanni Savino Photography