Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Anyel in Color, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2017

The idea is to expose one roll of color per day. Yet on every single trip that idea never becomes reality. This past summer in Cuba was close, with a roll every day and a half. This frame was just scanned today, over six months after it was exposed. We were almost finished with our session when we decided to make a few images against this backdrop.

Anyel is quite the professional and comes to the sessions with the most pleasant attitude. Working with her is a pleasure for the images reflect her spirit to excel. Many times we notice her moving to the music being played from the car, and she always smiles when she knows she's been caught..

We have collaborated for the past four years for she participates in Gysleda's school for modeling EGOS. It is the premiere school of its kind in Havana, and produces some of the most incredible talent on the island. Her space is one of the most creative in the city, a truly peaceful place to be in the midst of the chaos.

After seeing the color scans from tonight I will be taking even more color rolls with me this summer!

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination onto Kodak Ektar 100 film.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Anays Diz Pe + EGOS, La Habana, Cuba, 2018

Quizás lo mejor sea hablar sobre la sesión y guardar los elogios para otra persona. Esto lo hago por dos razones, la primera de las cuales es que ella es una persona increíblemente humilde. La segunda razón es que todos los que me conocen entienden mi sincera admiración por ella, sin la necesidad de explicar más.

Esta imagen fue expuesta durante nuestracolaboración con EGOS, una escuela de modelaje dirigida por nuestro querido amiga Gysleda Virginia De La Barca Vega. Es la mejor escuela de modelos en Cuba y produce algunos de los talentos más increíbles de la isla. Uno de esos talentos es esta chica, que contiene mucho más que modelar, por supuesto.

En este día, al menos una docena de modelos caminaron con nosotros mientras buscábamos los mejores lugares, mientras hacíamos fotografías que la escuela podría usar para cada modelo. De vez en cuando aparecía mi cámara de película, especialmente cuando se veía un momento especial. Al final de la tarde, cuando todo el trabajo estuvo terminado, nos dirigimos a un estacionamiento y usamos los últimos 30 minutos para fotografiar a los interesados.

Por supuesto, ella estaba interesada, y todavía estaba llena de energía y creatividad. La luz era perfecta, ya que la cámara se bajó al suelo para obtener el ángulo correcto. Se expuso un rollo y todos fueron testigos de lo increíble que era frente a la cámara. Ella es verdaderamente sin igual, sin lugar a dudas.

Nota: esta imagen fue hecha con una combinación Hasselblad 555 ELD / 180 mm.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Young Ballerina + Tracks, Guanabacoa, Cuba, 2017

Over the past four years it has been my sincere honor to have photographed this young ballerina. Her parents are as kind as any in my work, and have always shared an immense pride in our collaboration. Whenever the sun was up in the afternoon they would call us and find out where we were, and if a session with their daughter was possible.

This is exactly what happened with this frame, as we had a rare, sunny afternoon. Her parents called us and we drove over to their home in central Havana. They were ready when we arrived and left their store in the hands of neighbors while we headed out to the countryside. We arrived in Guanabacoa and went about asking the families for permission to use their homes. We were embraced as we had always been and began with a home near these tracks.

In time we walked over to the railroad tracks which were a favorite to the family. We had perhaps 30 minutes of sunlight left and moved quickly to set up the cameras. She was ready of course and the fact that the sunlight was soft just made her day. It felt like forever in the sweetest of ways and we exposed perhaps four rolls of film in the meantime.

She was flawless and, to the delight of her parents, composed herself perfectly for each frame. One almost forgets the age of these ballerinas and for good reason. She has my sincerest respect and hope that we can do better for her this summer!


Note: This frame was exposed with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/100 mm combination.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Model + Sidewalk, EGOS, La Habana, Cuba, 2017

This past summer on the island my collaboration with the magnificent Gysleda Virginia De La Barca was stronger than ever. In addition to the sessions with her models outside of her school EGOS, we walked the streets of the city with a camera in hand and a dozen of her models.

As one can imagine all eyes were on us as we walked around looking for the perfect locations. Of course all eyes were on the models rather than the photographer, but it felt interesting nonetheless. Usually the tourists are looking up at the buildings, with their sunglasses on and their smartphones up in the air. This time around it was as if they were forced to look at the people of Cuba, rather than the buildings and the cars.

For me it has always been the people, for they define the country. With Gysleda it is exactly the same thought, and she embraces all colors and shapes. Rather than adhering to the global norms of beauty, she supports her models and stresses to each one of them the value of their individual beauty. For this and so much more she has my endless admiration and respect.

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/100 mm combination.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Young Syrian + Camp, Zahle, Lebanon, 2017

This young girl lives in Lebanon at this time, escaping the violence next door in her homeland of Syria. Her home happens to be the camp in which my photography was born, and she lives among the children of the children whose portraits were made almost 20 years ago.

She is quite the strong spirit, allowing this portrait to be made on our first day together. It was as if she had done this a million times before, such a natural. Her eyes are as clear as the Lebanese sky during the summertime, yet she was able to open her eyes perfectly in the sunlight. She is a sister to the girls just photographed in Nicaragua, to the girls photographed a few months ago in Cuba and to the girls in India to be visited in two months.

Her life is almost unimaginable for most, having lost her homeland and living in a tent city where even the most basics of life are absent. Unlike the children of my friends, she cannot attend a school, lacks a place to bathe herself or to attend to her needs in private. She presents herself to the world in this portrait with only the positive, perhaps as if to shield us from the difficulties she faces on an hourly basis. I admire her without limits, and see her as a true hero in this most difficult world.


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Following in My Father's Footsteps, Old Leon, Nicaragua, 2017

Two weeks ago my path led me to this scene in Leon where my Father began his new life in the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes in the late 1940s. To be in the same locations where my parents had been so many decades before gave me a feeling which is truly indescribable. My hope is that the images made during my first return will honor the feelings felt.

Note: This scene is located in Old Leon, the site of the second oldest city and first capital of Nicaragua. Due to volcanic activity such as seen here, the inhabitants moved to present day Leon and the old capital was buried by the relentless volcanic activity.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Nica + I, Villa Sandino, Nicaragua, 2017

The more days spent in my birthplace the more it feels like home. Case in point is this selfie made just yesterday as we found our way back from the east of the country. We happened upon this young girl's neighborhood and decided to approach her community for photographs. Like everyone else so far they agreed to be photographed and in just a few minutes she was comfortable enough to allow this selfie.

To tell the truth she and her sister felt comfortable enough with us to hold our hands as we walked around looking for others to photograph. Once we let the neighbors know we were there, a few children walked our way and a session was started a hundred or so meters from her home.

She was quite the bundle of energy making her difficult to photograph, yet that same energy hopefully turned into some amazing portraits on film. She and her family live in a simple wooden structure, as basic as any home in Nicaragua. Yet it is hard to tell from her portraits, for she is as complete as any girl in any other land. We bid her family farewell and promised that we'd pass by their neighborhood on my next visit to Nicaragua.

It feels just like home now, and there are two weeks to go!

Note: This selfie was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Toddler + Wooden House, Managua to León, Nicaragua, 2017

A few days before my departure we visited this village for the second time, and were beyond fortunate to have had a quiet moment to photograph this young boy. At first his mother had held his hand while he stood next to her, then I placed a bucket upside down for him to sit down... and he did so ever so calmly. Amazingly he sat still for about ten minutes while his mother and I made as many photographs as we possibly could!

He and his family live in between Managua and León on the old highway, the same path my father would have taken as he arrived in Nicaragua. He would have passed by this village as well, perhaps passing by the grandfather of this young boy as he was a toddler himself. The people in this tiny village welcomed us as they would have welcomed family. After the photography on both days we talked for hours about topics ranging from rural life in Nicaragua to their experiences in Cuba.

Two of the men from this house had traveled to Cuba in the 1980s, giving us plenty of subject matter to talk about other than our mutual history in Nicaragua. They loved my old passport, and the picture of me when I was somewhat the age of this young boy. It was the link between the present and the past, something tangible which brought us closer together.

I do hope that the film contains at least one image comparable to this digital image, and look forward to seeing the film images once processed in a month or so.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Group Selfie + Lakeside, Grenada, Nicaragua, 2017

It has taken a few days but the photography has finally found its place in Nicaragua. We drove to Grenada this morning in order to meet the team at Education Plus, and had enough time in the morning to look around. By happenstance we ended up driving by this small village near the lake, and were embraced by the community almost immediately.

During their entire time in this village, they had never been visited by the countless outsiders visiting their region. They do wave to everyone, but rarely get a wave back. So it was with great surprise that they saw us walking towards them, and with even greater surprise to learn that we were deeply interested in photographing their community.

We talked for some time, and began photographing the oldest girl in the family, the one to my left in the group selfie. She was incredibly confident and truly aware of the moment, making some of the most beautiful portraits thus far. With her as an example to the rest of the children, all stepped forward without hesitation and truly made an impression on all of us.

After the photography we ended up making some spontaneous images, including this selfie with her releasing the shutter. One look at her expression should give the viewer an idea of her personality, of her self-confidence... so impressive. This is after all an 8 year old girl living in rural Nicaragua with a visitor for the first time in her village. What an experience it was, and all credit goes to these beautiful children!

When we were ready to leave for our meeting later this morning, she had one of the most serious expressions ever experienced by me. She truly connected with us this morning, the truest of honors in my humble opinion. We are heading to her village once again tomorrow morning, and let her know that before we headed off for the day.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Nica + Fence, Rama, Nicaragua, 2017

Her portrait was the result of happenstance earlier today, as we tried to make our way to the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. Spontaneity is the name of the game for the next two weeks, and as we followed the map on the phone to the eastern coast we ended up at a river and this village. It seems that the phone thought we had a boat, since it gave us the directions which included a river for the last 2 hours of our ride.

Without hesitation we dumped our drive to the river and walked into this village immediately. The majority of the homes are made of wood, and the people are as friendly as anywhere on the island. This has been my experience so far in Nicaragua, being embraced by my cousins as well as strangers anywhere we go.

We walked into this village last evening even though it was cloudy in order to speak with the people. They welcomed us without reservation and invited us to come back this morning if the sun was shining. Well, the sun was shining and we returned to find the children more than happy to be photographed.

One such girl is the one smiling in this portrait. She was a treat to photograph, so young yet so confident in front of the camera. Their shyness is one of the most beautiful aspects of the Nicaraguan people, especially those in the countryside. She was something else, a truly remarkable spirit living the most difficult life yet rising above it all with humility.

The people in her village lack running water, sewage system, toilets, medical access while at the same time sleeping in homes without screens and at the mercy of mosquitos every single night. The fact that she can present to the world with such a smile makes me pause.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.