Haitian Photographer Maxim Laroche Puts Down Roots in Rolling Hills Estates
My photography is really all about changing the perception of how the outside world perceives Haiti. My photography shows it in a different light – it shows the beauty of it. I really want to expose and show that part of it to the world.
When 33-year-old professional photographer Maxim Laroche first picked up a camera as a child growing up in Cap-Haitian, Haiti – he knew he had a unique point of view he wanted to share with the world.
“I always had an interest in photography,” Laroche said, adding that he fell in love with the medium when he took a photography class in ninth grade. “Photography captures the essence of a moment – it essentially freezes time, it helps you look back.”
Growing up in Haiti, he knew how the outside would viewed his country – and he wanted to use his photography to change that.
“It’s an amazing country, but a lot of the time it gets a bad rap of being a poverty-stricken, or a war-torn place that’s always being hit by the next big thing – whether it’s a hurricane or a pandemic,” Laroche said. “My photography is really all about changing the perception of how the outside world perceives Haiti. My photography shows it in a different light – it shows the beauty of it. I really want to expose and show that part of it to the world.”
His Instagram account, @maxim.laroche, has over 20,000 followers – and features brightly colored images of both the landscape, and the people of Haiti. His underwater photography shows crystal clear turquoise water filled with brightly colored fish – while his portrait photography shows a part of Haiti not often seen by visitors – including photographs of Voodoo ceremonies, smiling locals selling mangos on the side of the road, and old ladies smoking pipes. The colors are breathtaking, and the moments captured are genuine and filled with joy.
“I refuse to shoot misery,” said Laroche. “I truly want to explore and show the beautiful parts of Haiti.”
Recently, Laroche has turned his lens on a different community – the South Bay. Last year he picked up his camera bag and moved to his wife’s hometown of Rolling Hills Estates, California.
“We moved here because I wanted to give my daughter a lot more opportunity in terms of education,” said Laroche, who still plans to visit Haiti with his family frequently. “I love the South Bay… I think the culture and the people here in the Beach Cities is absolutely amazing. It’s an amazing place to raise a family. People are genuine and friendly, and the views and the weather are great.”
Since moving to the South Bay, he’s made it a point to bring his camera with him wherever he goes.
“I’m just kind of exploring my new playground in the South Bay with my photography. I’ve been doing night shots and stuff,” said Laroche. “Most of these places have been shot a thousand times, so I’m very humble about the pictures I’m taking here on this side of the pond. Whereas my pictures back in Haiti, some of those pictures I can say that I’m the only person who has ever shot that.”
Laroche recently had the opportunity to photograph an especially extraordinary sight – the bioluminescence algae – a phenomenon that’s spotted when the Red Tide algae is found off the coast, and glows neon blue when disturbed.
“It was really cool seeing the waves light up almost like a pyrotechnic light show that’s just created by Mother Nature,” said Laroche. “It really is a blessing to be able to witness that, especially during these times. I just feel so fortunate to be here to see it.”
For Laroche, even though he’s no longer based in Haiti, it’s still important for him to share his country with the world.
“I really feel like it was a big accomplishment to be able to put my city and country on the map and inspire young generations of photographers there to pick up that torch,” said Laroche. “If we flood social media with positive imagery, maybe we’ll get to the point where the positive will outweigh the negative.”
Laroche’s photography can currently be seen at a Haitian Art Gallery Galerie Lakaye at 1550 N. Curson Ave, Los Angeles, or on his Instagram at @Maxim.Laroche.