on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Andre Donawa – Portrait of a Photographer

Personal vision at familiar locations

Matt Payne

Matt Payne

Matt Payne is a landscape photographer and mountain climber from Durango, Colorado. He’s the host of the weekly landscape photography podcast, “F-Stop Collaborate and Listen,” co-founder of the Nature First Photography Alliance, and co-founder of the Natural Landscape Photography Awards. He lives with his wife, Angela, his son Quinn, and his four cats, Juju, Chara, Arrow, and Vestal.


Blue Water Ridge 2

Blue Water Ridge

For many nature and landscape photographers, the need to travel to distant exotic locations is paramount to the process of being able to create a diverse body of work that has a lasting impact, surprise, and depth. Surely trips to Iceland, Patagonia, Tibet, the USA National Parks, Greenland, the Faroes, and Indonesia can yield some incredible photographs; however, what if your home is a 167-square mile island and you choose to never leave your island for photography?

Cousteau’s influence on Andre’s work is quite prevalent not only in subject but also in how “exploratory” it feels to the viewer.

Do you think you can muster what it takes to produce a body of work that is compelling, personally expressive, interesting, and creative? The subject of today’s essay, Andre Donawa, based on the island of Barbados – a country with a population of just 287,000, has set out to do just that – create a body of interesting landscape photography solely from his home island.

Andre’s photography origin story is not unlike many of our own – in 2012, he picked up the camera to take some photographs of food for his family restaurant and the magic of pressing the shutter just overtook him like a virus. Armed with a degree in biology, Andre revisited local haunts on his island with a fresh perspective through the camera. His early inspiration as a photographer was Jacques Cousteau, the famous oceanic explorer, filmmaker, and co-inventor of the modern-age SCUBA diving systems. Cousteau’s influence on Andre’s work is quite prevalent not only in subject but also in how “exploratory” it feels to the viewer. When I first came across Andre’s work, I was instantly transported to Barbados and visually invited to feast on the peculiarities of his discoveries on the coast and in the water of his island. To be perfectly frank, I was quite surprised I had not discovered his work sooner. Andre’s work is filled with personal expression and conveys a unique take on a place he has become quite familiar with.

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