Keith Dahl has been taking photos in American Samoa since 1975. He brought a gift from his mother, an Instamatic camera, and was soon being asked to take pictures. He eventually purchased a 35mm camera and shortly after took pictures of the airplane that crashed into the Rainmaker Hotel in 1980. Seven hundred thousand pictures later, he is donating his massive historic collection to the Pacific Photography Archive at the Feleti Barstow Public Library. I’m set up at a table next to where he is sorting boxes of prints and I asked him if I could use one of his photos of a women’s cricket match (kilikiti) to do a painting so he brought in a few hundred to choose from. The monster wood bats are modeled after three sided Samoan war clubs and kilikiti players are as formidable as their bats.
Keith has been to more than 500 weddings and countless sporting events. His photos are currently being scanned into a searchable data base, but up until now people have waved him over the side of the road to buy their photos from his car and somehow he always finds them. He found prints of the canoe club I paddled with in 2001. Impressive, it’s fun to finally know the man behind the camera who describes his amazing effort as community service.